For those who do not know him, and for those who do, you could probably agree with me that Damien Leroy is somewhat of legend around. At one point and time, he’s been one the main guys to beat here in America in almost any category of our sport. He’s one of the nicest guys you’ll meet, and he’ll be the first to tell you if your doing something stupid (like jumping over a cabana backwards with one foot strap off in 30 knots). Whoops. Hey, he’s done his share of crazy stunts.
Like many of the groms in the area, I’ve looked up to Damo from the beginning. I’ve studied his every move and have had the pleasure of competing with him many times. My life would be incoherently different if our lives had not intertwined in such a way. It’s been ten solid years and I can still remember the first day we met and how you helped me untangle my lines as I helplessly tried to launch my kite… I shouldn’t say helplessly, I had plenty of help from so many people.
Well, this past month I was lucky enough to be crammed in his mini van for ten days, easily covering the over 3000 miles that make up his infamous Texas tour. It’s almost a right of passage to go on this trip — a few lucky guests have been put through the test, allowing the Master to train the little grasshopper formally know as the Grom — to see how we act as true Cabrinha representatives. We laughed, we fought, we talked about life, goals, and our sport… oh and girls, lots of girls. I’ve spent a lot of time with Damo, but never like this. It’s been a true growing point.
Our journey started on Friday, May 20th, in Jupiter, Florida as we began our first eight hours and 562 miles to Fort Walton Beach, for our first stop at XL Kites. With a zero wind forecast and clouds for the next day, our optimism was high and really, we were ready to ride (sarcasm). Despite a solidly lame forecast, the clouds cleared up and we were able to jam on 14s and 18s which in Florida, is all we need for an epic day. The families came out, the kites went up, the beers had been consumed, and no one needed to be rescued — Success!
The first stop on our checklist went off without a hitch. We even had the surprise of being able to ride a flow feet water jetpack which was a first for both of us. I was totally Superman and was so ready to fly away.
Next, we hauled over 175 miles to Gulfport, Mississippi, to meet up with Tommy at Gulfport Boardsports for our demo on May 22nd. The wind was lame, which was the perfect time to show people how efficient Cabrinha’s foilboard and lightwind kite combos can be. It’s always fun to be able to do backrolls in 8mph winds with out an issue. Eventually, as the day went on, Damien and I started to get a little wild on the beach, playing pass the bar (which is a game of 500 with a flying kite), how to jump through your lines, and Damien even showed us how to do a full 360 around the kite by running and creating your own apparent wind. Not that I didn’t know that was possible but it had never really crossed my mind before. It’s actually a lot of fun!! Just make sure you have a large beach like Gulfport!
After a good meal and a beautiful sunset, Gulfport sent us on our way for a 12 hour drive and roughly 800 miles to South Padre Island, which is where things really started to heat up and get interesting! Find out why Damien and I almost were ready to beat each other up with a GoPro out in the lineup in part two of Rookie on the Road.
Stay tuned for Brandon Bowe’s next blog update — part two of Rookie on the Road.