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.

Kiteboarding 4 Cancer: amazing event

2010 Kiteboarding 4 Cancer and SUP 4 Cancer events over the weekend raised over $71,000 for regional cancer programs! Of that, the KB4C athletes raised over $40,000 alone, which is matched by the generosity of the John Wayne Cancer Foundation to bring that number to $80,000!

Nearly perfect conditions of warm breeze and hot sunny skies brought out the crowds for this year’s KB4C to watch 130 + kiteboarders take to the Columbia River for the annual Kite Derby fundraiser. Event Director Tonia Farman summed up the weekend –

“This was our best Kiteboard 4 Cancer to date! The kiteboarding community has stepped up again in a huge way — not only to participate in the race and events, but to support this cause and the fabulous local programs that we benefit. “

“This year was more unique and powerful than in years’ past in that there was a strong connection at the event between the athletes and the people and programs they were riding for — In attendance of the event were survivors, people in treatment, kids in remission, and friends and families going through their own battle with someone they love. Connecting faces and real life experiences to the purpose of this event is very meaningful and powerful for all involved — athletes, donors, volunteers and the organizers.”

“I am so proud of the energy, commitment and generosity that kiteboarding has brought to this community — both locally here in Hood River, and across the Pacific Northwest. Each year I’m blown away by the kiteboarders that travel from all over to be here for this cause and our community.”

Kite Derby athletes from as far as New York and Florida battled it out on the river for 6 hours in big swell and variable wind conditions to raise money and awareness for regional cancer programs — The Next Door Inc. in Hood River, Children’s Healing Art Project in Portland, Children’s Hospital Seattle, and KB4C’s Survivorship Camps.

The KB4C teams highlighted the weekend with a contagious group energy of fun and competitive furvor. Teams had to hand off their one team jersey as a baton, by first landing their kite, swapping the jersey to the next person, then re-launching the kite. In the last hour of the kite derby, KB4C raised the bar for all competitors to go out and kite laps for donors to pledge per lap dollars for all of the combined laps in the final hour. Over $3,000 was raised in the last hour of the kite derby alone from this challenge! Over 400 laps were tallied in the final hour of the kite derby!

Team REAL Wind Ninjas from Hatteras, North Carolina, traveled to compete as a team for those in their families who have, and are, battling cancer. Team Seals from Portland, Oregon, rode for their Team Captain, Derek Seals, who survived germ cell tumors in 2007 and represented at the event to cheer his team on. Team 2nd Wind Sports/Urban Flora rode for Irv Stein and Steve Fisher, two local kiteboarders who have battled cancer in the last two years, plus family members who recently passed from cancer.

Team 2nd Wind Sports/Urban Flora won the Team Relay portion of the Kite Derby with 31 laps. Team Trew from Hood River came in 2nd with 25 laps, and Team REAL Wind Ninjas from North Carolina took 3rd with 23 laps.

In the individual category, Kiteboarding pioneer and Hood River local Cory Roessler claimed the top honors with a total of 35 laps. Alex Blochinger, from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, took second with 32 laps, and Stevenson resident Tony Bolstad came in third with 31 laps. Each of the top three finishers have placed in the top three spots in previous KB4C kite derbys.

Cory Roessler, Alex Blochinger, and Tony Bolstad take 1st, 2nd and 3rd respectively in the Individual Kite Derby

Cory Roessler, a legend in the sport of kiteboarding, put it into perspective perfectly as he took his trophy and prizes at Saturday night’s award ceremony:

“Today we may have suffered with sore muscles and cramps… but it’s a small price to pay for such a worthwhile cause.”

Race Results:

Cory Roessler – 35 laps
Alex Blochinger – 32 laps
Tony Bolstad – 31 laps

Top Women:
Jaz De Lille – 24 laps
Carol Bolstad – 25 laps

Team Winners:
2nd Wind Sports - 31 laps: Pepi Gerald, Irv Stein, Jason Wynn, Nate Appel
Team Trew - 25 laps: Tripp Frey, Lance Koudele, Ryan Huggins, Felix Granados
REAL Wind Ninjas – 23 laps: Jason Slezak, Sensi Graves, Chris Stuckey, Dominique Granger

Top Under 18:
Eric Devries – Merril – 25 laps

All Individual Competitors:
35 laps – Cory Roessler
32 – Alex Blochinger
31 – Tony Bolstad
29 – Jason Norwood
28 – Dave Hazenboom
27 – Vagi Gabor
27 – Phillip Schonger
27 – Grom Gormley
27 – Nick Ward
25 – Luc Rancourt
25 – Carol Bolstad
25 – Eric Devries – Merril
24 – Jeff Castleberry
24 – Jaz De Lille
22 – [Jersey #2]
21 – Scott Edgar
21 – Mike Haase
21 – Matthew Dawson
20 – Jodi Craig
18 – Derek Fromm
18 – Jason Jorgensen
17 – Holly Low
16 – Michael Dewitt
15 – Levi Roesler
15 – Jim Buttrick
14 – Brian Greenleaf
13 – Allen Beeler
13 – Jim Mason
12 – Neil Erwin
12 – Rachel Callahan
11 – Austin Keillor
11 – Gary Rhodes
10 – Ken Lie
10 – Robert Redman
9 – Sam Dent
9 – Jake Chanson
9 – Terri Flicek
9 – Dave Guttierrez
8 – Jose Gruart
8 – Man Cong
8 – Carl Davison

8 – Colin Jacobs
8 – Sean Reyngoudt
7 – Derry McIntyre
7 – Nicholas Cooper
5 – Laird Davis
5 – Brian Yates
5 – Andrea Esno
5 – Pat Erwin
4 – Brian Schurton
4 – Trey Roesler
4 – Ed Elsasser
4 – Margy Johnson
4 – Jenna Edginton
4 – Daniel Dancer
3 – Floyd Moore
3 – Alana Burny
3 – John Gilman
3 – John Carroll
2 – Kari Swarztrauber
2 – Kathleen Brogan Gruart
2 – Mark Davis
2 – Marybeth Zingarelli
2 – Shane Eagan
2 – Becky Bishop
2 – Andy O’Brien

21 – Kite Seals – Tony Colburn, Jim Schenk, Ryan Schenk, and Lance Larivee
21 – Gorge Performance – Brian Campagna, Justin Snodgrass, Becky Bolstad, Brian Jackson
20 – 2nd Wind Chicks – Anna Weber, Arla Funk, Claire Lutz, Lisa Tedford
20 – NW Kite Crew/Tribute to Kevin Kearney – James Erjavec, Toby Winston, Phil Holmstrand, John Stack
20 – Hood River Kite Rats – Ken Lucas, Vetea Boersma, Nick Dancer, Jan Booersma
5 – Cross Fit Hood River – Jeri McMaster, Denise Ward, Katie Rae, Nicole Homstrand
5 – Never Petered Out – Peter Ackerman, Peter Nora, Peter Carlson, Bob Overell
4 – Taking it Slowly - Jamie Lieberman, Mike Klotz, Mike Ketchem, Dan Temkin

Richard Branson: a passionate kiteboarder

Richard Branson will celebrate his 60th birthday by kitesurfing the English channel.

The owner of the Virgin Group will be the oldest person to kitesurf across the Channel. The adventure will take place between the end August and the beginning of September.

“Kitesurfing is one of my favourite sports. I absolutely love the amazing rush you get when going at high speeds, in high winds, with the most beautiful kite acting as your only guide. I know that kitesurfing across the channel will not be quite the same as kitesurfing in the beautiful waters of the Caribbean but I can’t think of anything I rather do, with my family and friends, to celebrate turning 60.", says Branson.

The entrepreneur will have an approximately six hour journey along 24.4 miles.

"My wife swears I get more barking as I get older – this year I’ve almost crippled myself running 26.2 miles in my first marathon and now I’m putting my poor 60 year old bones through an arduous 24.4 miles, over water, hanging onto a giant kite", he added.

Sir Richard Branson will be supported by Virgin Active UK and Flexifoil.