Kiteboarding the 220Km Coastal Classic Race

November 3, 2014 comment-icon 1 Comment

One of our PredictWind sponsored riders recently became the first person to kitesurf the Coastal Classic race up the East coast of New Zealand. 

David Robertson, who has been competing in windsurfing and kiteboarding for years, had a dream to enter the long distance Coastal Classic, but not in a yacht, on his kiteboard!

This year the conditions, gear and sponsorship lined up perfectly and Dave proudly completed the course in a very respectable time of 7hours and 30 mins.

We are proud to have sponsored Dave to help him realise the dream and we took the time to catch up with him for a quick interview as below.

PW: First off Dave congratulations on being the first person kitesurf the Coastal Classic! Its been a week since the race, how are the legs? 
DR:Feeling good now. But it did take a few days to be able to walk down stairs forwards again!

What did you think your chances of completing the race were?
It really was all going to be down to the wind on the day. A week out the wind was looking really light and unfavourable, then about three days before a perfect scenario started to form! From then it was all go.

What was the most challenging part of the day?
So many things. Choosing the right kite at 8 in the morning, navigation without onboard technology, eating and drinking while riding, managing fatigue in my body, deciding on which board to ride..the list goes on!

You completed it in about 7.5hrs, how did this compare with your planned time for the trip?
I was using the 8.5m catamaran polars as a guide on the PW weather routing. This had me coming in at around 8 hours on the day of the race. I was surprised at how accurate this ended up being. Now I have some polars of my own it will be great to use these in the future as the routing tool was a huge contributor to the success.

Do you think by kiting the Coastal Classic this might have opened the flood gates for a new long distance kiting race? Or maybe competition for the big boats?
There is more and more interest from kiters to do distance racing. Now we have the capacity to sail up and downwind at similar angles to 80ft Maxi’s it really is starting to open up a lot of opportunities.

Was the wind direction important for even attempting this race? If so when did you decide it was a possibility?
About 3 days before the West South West started to develop on both PredictWind models and it really was the perfect direction for kiting. Mainly due to the flatter sea state.

You had a board change in the race, why was this? Advantage of a foil over race board?
In the end I used the foil board for about 30% of the race including the upwind into Russell. The race board was easier for me to maintain my goal average of 20 knots on the 5 hour reach. With the way the foil development is going I’m sure in the future it will be easier and faster 100% on the foil.

You used a new Ozone chrono for the race how did the conditions and the kite work together, why did you pick that kite to use?
The forecast was really critical in the success of the day. I needed to trust it to make the right decision at 8 in the morning about what kite size to use. The forecast had a range from 8-20 knots so I chose a 12 square meter Ozone Chrono which I knew could get me through that range. In the end this was the biggest decision on the day, and the biggest contributor to the success of the mission.

If you could do it over would you do anything differently?
I would probably have a more efficient way of taking on food and drink. I ended up stopping for over 30 mins to take on food and fluids and cutting this down would have had a direct impact on time to the finish. However for this year the team did our best and it was a great result to be proud of.

For any other kiters out there crazy enough to have a crack next year what would your advice be?
Pray for favourable wind! Thats the most important thing. There are a lot of logistics involved and most of the work is actually getting to the start line with the right people on your team.

You did the kiting but who else was influential in getting you to the finish line?
PredictWind was key in supporting the logistics and providing a great forecasting and routing service. SeaBlade provided an awesome chase boat as well as the skipper Charles Winstone from Lancer. Ozone kites provided me with the Chrono. On the support team on the day was Tim Scullin, Dave Atkinson, Charles Winstone, Mike Pepper and Mike Scullin. As I said getting to the start line with the right people is key so I thank them all very much.

Thanks heaps for your time, we’re stoked to have been part of your coastal classic challenge.
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Congratulations Dave, we’re proud to be part of the team.

Cheers, PredictWind!