For the opening party of the “Kiteboarding Cup of the International Atlantic Tourism” in Puerto Plata/Dominican Republic, two STARKITES riders Posito and Joselito decided get to the party by doing a 34km down winder from Cabarete to Puerto Plata.
Both riders were very experienced and had done this down winder many times before. They were on ExA 9m 2010.
The wind was a good 20 knots when they left Kite Beach at 4pm. Everything was going well, they were almost at their destination when they noticed a big front over the city of Puerto Plata heading towards them.
Both riders knew this meant the wind would go offshore and strengthen. They tried to reach the land as fast as they could, but unfortunately didn’t make it before the front hit them with 50 knots of offshore winds and pounding rain. Visibility was next to zero as “everything turned white” saying Posito.
Both riders stayed in sight of one another as they held down the 50 knots and slowly made their way upwind towards land. Suddenly, Joselito crashed and lost his board; this changed his course from upwind towards land to downwind toward the Atlantic Ocean.
Within seconds the two riders lost sight of each other. Posito was left with no choice but to keep trying to make it to land. Then the wind completely died. Luckily Posito was able to get close enough to shore to paddle the rest of the way in with his kite.
When he reached land there was no sign of Joselito anywhere. Posito quickly ran to the party to notify everyone else. Rescue boats started searching, but it quickly became useless as the night arrived. Everyone at the event started realizing that this could turn into a real drama; all of Joselito’s friends dedicated a moment of silence in hope that he was still alive and well.
Meanwhile, Joselito was so far offshore that he could not see land anymore. With no wind to fly his kite, Joselito wrapped his bar up, flipped the kite upside down (self rescue style), and laid on it. Without any landmark, Joselito started paddling hoping he was going the right direction.
The night arrived as Joselito paddled himself into complete exhaustion. With still no sign of land, he stopped paddling and laid on his back scared watching the moon completely lost in the middle of the dark ocean.
The day after there were no signs at all of Joselito and few hopes, at about 9 am a fishing boat spotted a pink spot in the horizon, when approaching what was a kite they were surprised to see there was someone alive in the kite!
Joselito was dropped off and went straight home to his very worried family. Everyone was relieved to hear the amazing news. He rested all weekend, and is now back on the water riding hard.
This story is a good reminder of how quickly things can go wrong when kiting. If you are stuck far offshore, do not abandon you kite, as it can be a very effective floatable, a visible device and will increase your chances of survival.