Here's another long journey foil tale for you all to enjoy. On Friday I decided to head out for another long ride during another light south wind day. If you read my previous post from Thursday you'll know that I learned my lesson about heading straight to the water, especially with the swell larger than the day before. I stood at the shoreline with my kite up and board in hand timing the sets. Once I saw a clearing I set my way out, and began riding no problem. Everything was off to such a smooth start!
As I began my ride I decided that today I would head South upwind along the coast. The goal was to make it to Crystal Cove where we scattered my mothers ashes and pay her a visit. As I began riding past the Huntington Pier the outside swell grew in size. I was intrigued at how large these rolling hills of water were so far out past the break. I came equipped this day with a longer mast to help for the larger swell and chop as I made my way upwind. Starting a long ride with an up wind destination isn't as fun in the beginning, but I knew coming back would literally be a breeze. I'd basically ride along the coast until I got just behind the break, then tack back out away from the shore line. This was becoming pretty tedious on the legs, but once I passed the Newport pier the coast line swept in making it an easy ride down to Crystal Cove. Once I got there I rode and sent some love to my mom. It was beautiful seeing the cliffs along the coast line and how clear the water was. I was filled with happiness to be in this moment doing what I love in a spot that meant so much to me. After a final good bye pat upon the water I began my venture back home.
Riding down wind is a blast on the foil. Everything is so quiet and calm as you cruise your way back. It was so calm that I was able to play music from my phone inside my wetsuit and jam my way back home. My line on my way back had me heading along the coast line while slowly heading farther out to sea. I didn't mind as it set me up to shoot past all the piers without having to be too close.
As I made my way past Huntington Pier I figured I'd keep riding to Long Beach. Everything seemed in order to make my way there no problem. What I didn't realize while riding the wind had tapered off significantly. I hadn't noticed because I wasn't doing any transitions and was using the apparent wind from the the speed of my foil. As I made my way down I decided to turn to shore to get a little closer for the rest of my ride down to Long Beach. When I brought my kite up to turn I felt little to no pressure in my lines. As my board speed came to a halt I felt no wind to my back. The wind had dropped too low single digits, and I was quite a distance from the shoreline. My kite slowly began to fall from the sky as everything seemed to hit zero. I was able to relaunch my kite to just have it fall from the sky again. 'Here we go' I said to myself preparing for the long swim.
I began going through the motions of my self rescue. With little to no wind wrapping your lines and getting to your kite is quite easy. The unfortunate part of doing a self rescue with no wind is not having the ability to use your downed kite as a sail to bring you in. I attempted to open the sail to help blow me in, but I was kick paddling faster than the wind could blow my kite. So I balled my kite up as small as I could to reduce drag, and began the long kick paddle back to shore with board in hand. This part wasn't too bad, but I knew the tough part would be getting in with the large surf.
As I began closing in on the outside break I wanted to make sure I had all my gear in order. The last thing I wanted was to get caught in a wave entangled with my board or kite. I began checking my bar and lines, and found that I hadn't quite got all the lines wrapped on to my bar. About 20 feet of line had wound itself around my leg and around the mast of my foil. If I would have swam in and been caught by a wave I would have been tethered to all my gear creating a pretty nasty situation. I got the line off my leg and board and fully wrapped my bar. I was now sitting just on the outside of the break, and began timing the sets. My goal was to wait until the last set wave came and swim in behind it to prevent myself from being tossed with a wave. I found my moment and began to swim and pull my gear in.
I was making great progress when the lifeguards made their way over on the jet ski. I gave them the OK signal that I was fine as I continued to swim. The guard, wanting to help, offered me a ride on the back of the ski. We stalled for a moment discussing our exit plan, but as we sat there the sets began to roll back in. We both saw the set wave closing in on his ski and he told me to drop the kite and get myself and board on his float. Once I was on the wave was right on us. The guard had to gun it to keep the ski from getting tossed, but that ripped me off the back with board in hand. I was at the crest of the wave about to go over. I knew the board was holding me back so I tossed it with the wave and swam across the top. I'm now treading water between the sets with the ski just out in front. He sets the ski closer as the next wave comes closing in. I swam up and grabbed the float on the back. As soon as I had hold of the handles he guns it avoid the next wave coming at us. We make it over the set and set course to shore. Making it in I watch as my kite gets pummeled in wave after wave. Finally I am back to shore.
Once I made my way in I had drawn quite the crowd of on lookers. Relieved and slightly embarrassed, I made my way to the life guard truck on the shoreline. It was a guard that kites himself here in Huntington, and we both shared a laugh over my experience. He knew that I lived a few towers down so he gave me a ride back to my street in the back of the truck.
I tell you these stories because it goes to show that even with experience things can still happen. I was fully aware that by doing this long ride I may need to swim, but I wasn't anticipating the wind to die as quickly as it did. If you find yourself in a self rescue situation be sure to reevaluate as you go through your steps. I'm glad I took several moments during my self rescue to assess and reassess my situation. Making sure to check my lines before entering the break was crucial to my safety. Understanding that I could time the sets to avoid being thrown over the falls was also a key moment. By understanding the entirety of my situation I was able to make it back safe and sound. I urge all of you to do the same when venturing out. Know the variables so that you can address them before they are an issue.
I will be back on the Vlog tomorrow for all of you with more fun kiteboarding topics! Happy kiting everyone!