Winter Kitesurfing 2014

This winter has been one of the best on record for UK kitesurfing as far as I am concerned! Solid winds letting have been letting us use our smaller kites and constant swells hitting the coast creating some good waves and a lot of good enough waves. The most noticeable characteristic of the winter so far has been how mild it has been – rarely much below 10 degrees C. This is a lot warmer than recent years. Only the last few days of the year have been truly cold. Early 2015 will probably be dramatically colder than what we have had so far.

I have been doing my best to get in as many sessions as possible during this time of year which is busy at work and lacks the idyllic warm sunny vibe induced by summer beach days. There is something invigorating about getting out there in the winter and after a couple of sessions you soon get used to the restrictive nature of 5mm of neoprene vs a summer suit.

Here are some GoPro shots from a couple of angles – still working out how to get things right in terms of getting everything in shot and reducing drops on the lens!

Next up it is time to hit the mountains and find our snow feet again!

Night riding

The last few weeks have been bad for wind – it is getting frustrating. After talking about it alot last winter and never actually doing anything about it I finally got some mountain bike lights and last weekend put them to the test. Overall – riding with lights is not as hard as you would think – it does make things a bit harder though. The first ride was along the Verderers trail which I know pretty well. Doing it in the dark made it a lot more fun though. The combination of a powerful front light mounted on the handlebars then a secondary light mounted on the helmet meant that shadows were less of an issue and visibility was pretty good.

I am gonna recommend all my mountain bike friends get lights this winter – I just got cheap chinese ones and they work great. Who knows how long they will last but so far they are well worth the money.

Here is a quick gopro edit I put together

Egypt with Flysurfer

Egypt felt alien from the get go. The second I got off the plane the heat hit me but I was expecting that. As soon as I entered the terminal I was immediately taken aback by the horde of taxi and transfer drivers waiting for us before we had even cleared passport control. The hall felt vibrant and energetic but also chaotic. I should have done more (some!) research but had to pay for a visa there and then. The guys were taking in money faster than they knew what to do with it and were literally chucking it under their work space. Only one stand took card though.

I was relieved to see the taxi driver holding a sign with my name on it. I relaxed straight away. We walked over to his van which was just how I imagined an Egyptian taxi. We set off and I’m glad I was not driving. It was like Mario Kart. Lane discipline is non existent. There were donkeys with carts on the dual carriageway. Horns beeping constantly. Kind of fun in a scary way as a passenger.

I had no idea where we were going. He could have taken me anywhere. It was very nice to see some familiar faces and sip a cool beer once I made the resort. Having woken up early and been on the plane for hours then losing two hours to a time difference made my day feel even more odd. A couple extra beers and a good burger helped matters.

Day one started off with me getting locked in the apartment. Not great. By the time breakfast was done the wind was blowing. We rushed through a quick presentation then hit the water. It was fun to ride flat warm eater and test some gear. I have been working on my surfboard riding a lot this year so a twin tip was a nice change.

After a late lunch the wind had died right down so i figured I would live the dream and do some work on my laptop in the beach front bar whilst sipping a cold beer. It was a nice way to work. I took a few shots then we had another quick presentation before dinner followed by sipping beers and getting attacked by moquitos till late. All in all a good day – shame I cant share most of the shots!

Flysurfer Test Centre

Day two we get lucky again and it blows all day. I hit the water testing a couple kites and boards. We rode till lunch then went off to eat. After lunch we chatted, talked shop then did a couple of workshops on the new models. This is where we learn about the direction the brand is headed in and where they want to go. I put together a quick edit of footage I remembered to film this day.

A shower revealed I have been bitten hundreds of times and now itch like crazy. Another failure in my planning process. Bug spray is a must. I think 500 bites is a conservative estimate.

Day three is a bit light on wind – still possible to ride but meetings got in the way of it. By the time those were done the wind had died. I worked on some media and we did some more workshops. Time spent with designers like this is invaluable. A late presentation (after dark with the lights on) allowed the moquitos to savage me some more.

After dinner FS invited us to the beach for drinks which somehow escalated to a dodgy nightclub with every “feature” going including but not limited to a revolving dance floor (everyone loved that), foam canons, cage dancers and a very random midnight dance show. Good times.

Day four was time to get the hell out of Egypt. A big lie in was much needed after a very late finish. By the time I got up there were only a few hours left until the transfer to the airport. A bite to eat, some packing and a meeting and off I went. The drive to Hurghada airport revealed the whole area to be little more than a building site. The drive was not as wild as the first one, but I did see a car going the wrong way up a dual carriageway.

I cant say I am desperate to go back to Egypt – but a good time was had.

Sun, Wind and Waves on the Gower

Autumn is here and with it comes the winter swells and storms delivering wind and waves. The last couple of weeks have been pretty good hitting Saunton in Devon last weekend and today Llangennith on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. Oli and I took the day off work and headed down. We couldnt make our mind up which beach to head to but decided on Llangennith after consulting all the usual websites.

We got lucky – despite a few passing showers (some pretty heavy showers!) it was mostly sunny and solid 7m kite weather. My love affair with the Ozone Reo continues! As the tide was dropping the waves were at their best. We rode hard for just over 3 hours before coming in for some food then headed out again for another couple of hours till our bodies could take no more.

Having had only a handful of 100% strapless surfboard sessions I am at the good stage were there is noticeable improvement every time. A higher success rate on the gybes – though by no means graceful. Tackling some bigger waves and working more on the waveriding element of it all. Good times!

Bratislava

A trip with no work or kiting or snowboarding involved is a bit of a rarity for me. This was 100% recreational with the main purpose being a wedding. I have never been to a city this far East so was keen to explore. Despite a ropey start with the public transport (I shouldn’t have got on a random bus) I soon got my bearings. It helped the hotel was just below the main castle/palace so it was pretty easy to find after that.

The old town was small but pleasant – the older buildings look pretty grand but clearly it was hit badly in WWII. Outside the old town it has an eastern block vibe. It was a great spot to spend a few days walking round hitting up bars and restaurants. At EUR 1.60 a beer it is an ideal place to drink. They are into good beer and cocktails too. Goulash was top notch. I would have no problem going back to Bratislava.

A few days in Cornwall

An impromptu mission to Cornwall this week started with a stop off at Weston Super Mare to make the most of the 20mph sea breeze which had kicked in. Kitesurfing till dark was the hangover cure I needed after a heavy stag do in Wales. I was hitting the road with Mark for the first time in a few years. This time in his all singing all dancing Merc Sprinter camper conversion.

We stayed around Gwithian getting a bit of a kitesurf and bike session in the first day. The next day we took a drive to Marazion to see Loz at Ocean High and went for a paddle around St Michaels Mount. The wind was not as good as we had hoped but it was great to just swim in the sea, hang out, take photos of the sun set and get some camp food on the go.

We made another social call on the way home – checking in on Dom in Newquay and his snazzy new base at the Headland Hotel.

Cornwall is not that far and well worth a few hours drive – I dont know why I dont go more often!

Dave paragliding in the Malverns

Despite living around here for years now I think today was only the third time I have walked up the Malvern hills. Dave Roberts was passing by and was hoping to find some thermals. I grabbed the camera and headed up after him. Conditions looked great on the internet but in reality it was a bit on the windy side so we waited around. When it dropped Dave launched and off he went!

It is pretty epic scenery by anyones standards up there, and it looked great seeing Dave fly high over the fields. Paragliding is such a big part of Ozone too – it was good to learn more about it!