Saturday, December 21, 2013

Kiting Across the Atlantic

6 kiters and a boat sailing 24/7 across the Atlantic.

The night kiting is the real challenge (“day time is play time”). Eric wakes me up 45 minutes before it’s my time to do the change with Filippo. I wake up, and it’s dark outside. Knowing that you have to go out kiting in pitch darkness makes you wake up fast. When I look out my small window, I see nothing. I’m standing in the light, and it looks even darker outside. I go to the outside dining table, where I get all of my gear together. First, everything on the kitchen counter, the vest with VHF, dog tracker and wetsuit, and then my helmet. All this while still standing in the light, looking out into the darkness, seeing Filippo riding in front of the boat. The only things I can see are the four lights, the light on his back, one in the middle of the kite on the leading edge, and the two brake lights on the wing tips. I’m always very excited before I have to go. But there are always the doubts: will the wind stay up, are we going to make a good rider change in the dinghy, will I be able to stay up in the sweet spot ahead of the boat (in front of the boat, on the upwind side, so the boat can pick me up without having to turn around if something goes wrong).
Then Eric double checks all my gear: is the VHF working properly (radio check), is the back strobe light, is the dog tracker on with full charge. Then it’s time to start my night time session. Eric informs Filippo that I’m in the dinghy, and I’m released behind our safe haven (the Double A). There is a stern light on the Double A that always blinds me just before I’m doing the rider change. The distance between the catamaran and me is getting bigger. Now I’m getting really excited. Once the dinghy is locked into position, Filippo approaches. This is the moment where everything changes. Filippo shouts my name. This is always the time when all of my doubts fade away. If Filippo can do it, I can! The change is a serious moment and we do it fast. First, I release Filippo’s leash from the safety, and hook mine into it. Then I grab the chicken loop and hook it into my harness, and take the bar into my hands. Filippo puts the board onto my feet and the leash around my ankle, and off I go into the darkness. Filippo shouts: enjoy Ike!  Read more here.

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