Louis Tapper: adventurer and banker

When Louis Tapper sets out to kitesurf a record-breaking 2000 kilometres along the coast of Brazil, he knows achieving his goal could ultimately be beyond his control. The Wellington adventurer, who works as a banker, left for Brazil last night kitted out with a new kiteboard and a feeling of excitement tinged with trepidation.

"There's a fine line between adventure and misadventure and I'm certainly aware of my own fragility out there."

Mr Tapper, 36, has given himself a month to kitesurf from Salvador north to Sao Luis, and is hoping for strong trade winds to help him.

He will take a modified 35-litre backpack with essential supplies for sleeping on the beach along the way.

The Brazilian coastline is growing in popularity among kitesurfers, who favour the region at this time of year because of the warm, windy conditions.

While Mr Tapper was likely to be helped along the northern half of his journey by 45kmh winds, he said the start would be more challenging.

"The trade winds don't blow as strong in the south and they can be quite fickle."

Official Guinness world records for kitesurfing exist only for courses completed within 24 hours, but Mr Tapper said kitesurfers recognised Frenchman Eric Gramond as "indisputably" the world record holder for travelling the furthest distance. In 2007, Gramond covered 1450km in 13 days along the same stretch of coast where Mr Tapper will attempt his feat.

Although Mr Tapper has allowed one month for the trip, its duration will depend on conditions.

He has been training along the Kapiti Coast and at Wellington, which he said provided a perfect practice ground, with constant strong winds.

Last October he became the first to kitesurf from Auckland to the Bay of Islands, making the 262km journey in 13 hours.

He has also kitesurfed Cook Strait, but said Brazil would be far more mentally and physically challenging.

He is raising money for the charity Surfaid, and hopes to set out on July 20.

He is carrying a satellite unit which will track his progress and update his location every 10 minutes on his blog, at http:// yakers.co.nz.


SOURCE: Windsurfing NZ