NZ Kitesurfer clocked at 47.4 Knots (87.78km/hr) before wipout!

Chris Blake recordered 47.4 knots on 11m BEST Waroo and a finless hand crafted board.



The New Zealand Kiteboarding scene is heading in many directions from Unhooked Wakestyle to down the line wave riding. Anything goes is the only rule. And one of our local lads is pushing the Speed Kiting direction. Have a read up on what Chris has been up to one crazy week in July. It's sure to get you interested in laying down some speed runs at Tamaki Spit, Meola reef, Waipu river mouth or Port Waikato.




Chris (21 last week!) was riding his 11m 2008 Waroo and his self made finless kiteboard.


I woke up around 20 past 5 on Wednesday morning. I had trouble sleeping that night as the forecast was for solid 35kn northwest winds. Now you may think that this is not really normal behaviour, and I'd probably have to agree with you. I had a quick shower, chucked my kiting gear in the car, grabbed some food and then left the house, chasing a dream of an epic session down at Port Waikato. The reason for the early morning madness was to try and make the most of the sandbank which is exposed only at low tide.

We finally got down to Port Waikato around 7am and had a quick check on the wind. It was already a solid 20 gusting 25kn and building steadily, perfect. Feeling a little stupid I pumped up my 11m waroo, most of the other guys were pumping up 7's and 8's.

By the time we got on the water it was gusting 30kn with 35kn squalls pushing through. Needless to say all of my 70kg was struggling to hold on to my 11 through the squalls. The top end of that kite never ceases to amaze me.

There were 6 of us on the water, myself, Dave, Luke, Chris, Andy and Nick, all in pursuit of the holy grail of speed sailing, the magic 50kn. We also had Mike out there with us, a young techno sailor, currently training for the worlds, who wanted a bit more practice in the nuking winds.

On my first run as I sheeted on and started to build speed, I could tell that my board felt fast. (I had just finished building it and this was the first test). However as I hit about 35kn it became completely uncontrolable, I managed to peak at about 39kn before wiping out. The reason for the total lack of control was probably because I was attempting to ride the board with no fin. I wanted to test out if the board needed a fin. I found out the hard way, that it is kinda useful.

Noting lack of control at speed, I decided that I wouldn't be able to get any decent average speeds, for example over 500m. So I decided to just try for absolute peak speeds. I had a couple of peaks over 40kn, then a squall came through with about 35kn of wind. I thought, this is my chance, so I sheeted in and went for it. I managed to peak at 47.4kn, 2.6kn away from the magic 50 before wiping out hard. The crash at that speed is not something I'll forget in a hurry. I was so glad I was wearing a helmet, cause for the next minute I was winded and seeing lots of bright flashing lights, along with straining a couple of muscles in my shoulder. So from that point I decided to call it a day, which in hindsight was kinda lucky as the wind picked up to gusts of 40. I don't think I could have held on to my 11 in that, no matter how great the top end may be.

My peak speed that day did end up being the fastest of the guys, however most of the credit should go to Dave, who posted the fastest average speeds that day, with 5x10 second runs around 41kn and a peak speed of 46.8kn.

I'm completely hooked on speedkiting, the sensation of going that fast is amazing. It gives me the biggest buzz. The first time I got over 35kn, a few months ago at Waipu, I felt like I had discovered a completely new sport. I've been kiting freestyle for quite a while now, and am just starting to land a couple of powered handlepasses. The feeling of stomping a new trick is great, but it can't compare with pushing your limits speed kiting, that feeling when your right on the edge of control, trying desperately not to wipe out.

With speedkiting your speeds are recorded by a gps strapped to your arm, which you can purchase new for around $150. After your session you can analyse your data and upload your speeds to a website, gps kitesurfing. This website will then give you a world ranking, based on your 5 best 10 second runs. This means that you can find out exactly how well you did, and compare with other people. Whereas with freestlye there tends to be quite a bit of exaggeration and artistic license applied to what you just landed (or so you tell your mates).

You also don't need a dedicated speed board to go fast. The fastest person in New Zealand, Gavin got his top speed of 48kn on a freestyle board he cut up and modified a bit. Or if you don' want to do that you can easily build your own. I built my first boards out of construction plywood, at about $10 a board, even managed to hit 43kn on one of them. My most recent board cost me about $50 to build out of foam and glass. As for a kite, any kite will do, however the higher aspect bow kites do seem to be the best.

So to get into speedkiting, as long as you've already got some normal gear the most expensive part is the gps. Most guys are using the Navi GT11.

Chris Blake.




The following weekend Chris borrowed my Nemesis HP 9m to have a crack at the NZ speed record.
Check out the storm that brewed up over night!

This is what Chris had to say at around 9am when they pulled the plug on the day... "Glad I didn't go out, when I got home I re-checked the wind and it was averaging 67kn up there."
Well we all know what happened next as NZ was pummelled by over 80knot winds and rain.
Chris lives to ride another day!
Stay tuned for more speed riding adventures from Chris and the crew.

Lee McClelland

ANABATIC is the brand - See our Hell Kite model @ wwwHellBoardriders.com