Cook Strait Cross 

Kiteboarders Louis Tapper and Alistair Quinn have crossed the notoriously treacherous Cook Strait by kite, and raised money for the Wellington-based Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

Chopper rescue services can mean the difference between life and death for thousands of New Zealanders every year. And you can't get more deserving than that.

Here's their story:

ALI:
«Yep we both made it, albeit about 8 nm apart. I'd borrowed Kevs board which was way better than mine would have been but still not quite a floaty as Louis big barge. I struggled a bit in the light winds and couldn't point as far upwind as Louis so eventually ended up south of Tory Channel, Louis hit the mainland exactly as planned at Perano Head about 4 nm north of Tory Channel.

Once out of the bay at Makara (total nightmare in light wind dead onshore and lots of kelp) we got good wind for about 40 mins then it dropped to zero and we hung out with kites in the water , the wind came back but it was only about 10 -12 kts , we both had to work the kites but Louis was a bit more efficient and managed to stay on the planned heading. I worked my way slowly south into the shipping lanes regularly hitting 5 knots.

We were about to pull the pin on my trip and the boat was on the way to get me when the wind came back and I got going again. After the ok from the coast guard and quick scurry across the mouth off Tory Channel. I ended up about 500 yrds of the coast up against some big cliffs. The wind started getting funky and I had the strongest gusts of the trip and a couple of lofts then it all died about 100 yards out and I swam to shore.

Meanwhile Louis was in good pressure further north and trying to tack up wind to give him a chance at a quick touch , turn and trip back to Makara. Eventually he touched land at Perano Head and keen for more headed back towards the North Island.

I was way too far south to contemplate the return trip and the cliff landing hadn't been nice to my gear so the boat came down and picked me up.

Louis was ripping in steady 18 -20 on the way back and we struggled to make ground on him, its way harder work doing 15kts in a 20ft boat in rough seas than it is doing 20kts on a kite.

With the magic of VHF, Spot and Telecom we tracked Louis down 2 hours later - he was about 7nm northwest of Makara. We knew it was 10kts lighter on the Wellington side so he had taken a wide northern circle looking to approach Makara downwind as the wind dropped of. He was making very hard yards of it in about 8 kts of wind when we found him. He persevered for another 1 1/2 hours relaunching every 20 minutes but eventually the kite could not stay in the sky so we pulled the pin 3 nm northwest of Makara.

It was quite cool at times bobbing away by yourself in the middle of the strait waiting (praying) for enough wind to relaunch, but next time I think we will wait for a gruntier forecast.»

LOUIS:
«Just a quick post to say Ali and I did make it across and we are stoked with this achievement, especially given the light wind conditions we started and ended with.

Thanks guys for all your support and donations. If you haven't done so already please keep the donations flowing.

It took us an hour to grovel out of Makara before we headed out on our way. The 2.5 m shark swimming off the head of Makara certainly kept my senses sharp while Ali finally made his way out. We had periods where the wind died completely and the pressure was definitely on with TV3 there and news media wanting to know what was going on.

Both of us were having to work hard to keep upwind and maintain a bit of speed. Unfortunately Ali was struggling to stay upwind and ended up in a place where it wasn't possible to come back from. I spent a fair bit of time on the Perano Head side getting to a point where I could touch without a wind shadow. It also set me up for a steaming run back across, well, until the wind died and I ended up groveling in 8-14 knots of wind from 3:30 until 5:30

The wind died out, 3 mile from Makara, to around 5 knots so it wasn't possible to continue. I was ready to break out the Speedos and swim the last bit, but the support boat was getting close to being out of fuel and had to head home after having driven 140km.

Coping with the wind variation was key today and the combination of the new Cabrinha switchblade IDS kites and long boards really helped us out. I am personally feeling pretty good after having kited 7 hours with only stops in the lulls. It will be interesting to see how the body is tomorrow.

This crossing would not have been possible without the support from a number of people who have generously given up their time today. Big thanks to you all.»