- 15 May 2010 | Kiteboarding
On May 10 at 6:20 a.m., two Americans quietly set out to break the world kiteboarding distance record. Their goal: kiteboard from South Padre Island, TX, to Houston, TX, a distance of 257 nautical miles.
Kiteboarders Phil Midler, 30, Co-Owner of XLKites kiteboarding stores and an avid mountaineer, and Mitch Andrews, 40, a pilot for Continental Airlines, knew the task would be mentally and physically demanding but the reality of their endeavor proved to be much more challenging than either could have imagined.
After riding for about 70 miles, Andrews decided to bow out at around 11:20 a.m. near Corpus Christi to give his friend his best chance of breaking the record. After taking less than a three-minute break, Andrews joined the chase crew and Midler hit the water again, determined to make it to the goal.
Battling a wide range of conditions including double overhead waves and winds ranging from 25 to 30 knots, Midler was seriously challenged with the wind direction and conditions as he reached Matagorda Island, a 65 to 70 mile isolated stretch on his journey with no access, people, or anything resembling civilization. He was still making great time, but the wind direction made getting around some inlet jetties and debris in the surf very difficult.
Just past Port O’Connor, Midler had a close call when he was thrown onto a granite jetty by the pounding surf. He said, “I was cutting hard upwind, riding parallel to huge breaking surf, and got tossed onto the jetty because I was too close. I landed board first and managed to escape to the other side of the jetty with only scrapings on the front of my right shin.”
He continued, “I stopped on the other side after clearing the jetties to inspect the injury and was surprised to see that despite all of the blood, it was only a flesh wound!” Stoked with his good luck, he continued on, but was quickly losing daylight.
After kiting for an hour in complete darkness with only the stars and the shoreline to guide him, he finally found a remote sand spit. With no supplies other than his kiteboarding gear, cell phone, space blanket, and a small amount of water in his hydration pack, Midler hunkered down for the night, doing his best to protect himself from the non-relenting wind and elements while he prepared himself mentally for the final leg of his journey the next day.
On Tuesday, May 11 at 8:15 a.m., Midler completed his journey in near impossible light wind conditions, 27 miles ahead of Steen Carsten’s current record of 178.5 nautical miles. Pending Guinness Book of World Records verification, Milder unofficially beat the current record armed with a 2010 10-meter Slingshot RPM and a 5’4” Slingshot Celeritas surfboard by completing 205.5 nautical miles from the XLKites shop in South Padre Island to Matagorda, TX, next to Highway 60 in 17 hours.