SUMMARY OF THE RECORD ATTEMPT
I have a very close relationship with the sea since I was only 15 days old, due to my father’s passion for boats and will to bring aboard all the family for sailing.
While growing up, I started to learn how to sail and then I entered competitions where I was most of the time on the top places and even lead the national ranking in some dinghy sailing classes.
While studying, I was always trying new watersports and quickly got into wakeboarding, body boarding, surfing, windsurfing and the latest, kite surfing in 2002. In 2005 I was the Portuguese National Champion and, in 2006, Vice-Champion.
After graduating from Industrial Engineering and Management, the competitions had to stop and I started to work as a consultant. Soon I started to search for my own business related to watersports.
Now, in 2013, I decided to try to make a challenge that I was thinking about for several years now, which was to kitesurf the Portuguese Continental West Coast.
Why I decided to break a record
While I was building a plan for my adventure, I searched for kitesurfers all over the world to see what was the longest distance that was made without stops, to learn more with them and to check how feasible my trip would be. I didn’t find any kitesurfers doing the same, or more, than I was planning to do.
This fact made me think that I could make history worldwide with my odyssey and so I searched Guinness for the current records. Several records were analyzed but when receiving the correct updated record from them, it was not possible to beat the record with the planned kitesurf trip (example: “Longest Kitesurfing Distance in 24h”).
Finally I found a record that was possible to beat, which was the Longest KiteSurfing Journey without stops.
Description of the event and the record attempt itself
The event was about kitesurfing along the Portuguese Continental West Coast for more than 290 nautical miles (measured in a straight course at sea) that separate the Douro River’s mouth, near the city of Oporto, from the Marina de Lagos entrance, in the city of Lagos.
The goal was to do it without stops, day and night, on top of a board with a kite. In order to make it legal, I had to fulfill a lot of requirements imposed by the Portuguese Navy, from having a registered PLB (Personal Location Beacon), to having an official onboard with medical care certification, to finding a support boat to be around at all times and communicate with the several sea authorities along the coast.
I also gathered a lot of partners that allowed me to do this stunt, providing me with kitesurf equipment (Ozone), communication and safety devices, places to stay at start and finish, fuel, etc. Ozone played a very important role, by giving me a brand new Ozone Edge 13m kite with customized colors, a kite made to win races, which allowed me to go very well powered all the way, with very different favorable wind strengths ranging from 41 knots at night in the Roca Cape area to only 6 knots in early morning.
In order to achieve success in the adventure, I should wait for a perfect wind forecast for two days, near the full moon of September (known for this type of wind conditions).
The full moon was on Thursday, the 19th September 2013, and on the previous Sunday the 15th I saw a good forecast to departure on Wednesday the 18th, which made me warn the team and everything was on standby. But on the following morning (Monday the 16th) I received a call from the Portuguese Hydrographic Institute telling me that I had to departure already on Tuesday the 17th, in order to catch wind all the way to Lagos.
A lot of things were missing and were not done and also the stress was at a very high level, since the team was not ready to go so soon. But, since the wind forecast was the most important factor to raise the probability of arriving at the finish, we made it happen and the start was on the 17th September at around 15h (instead of the predicted 13h00), at the Douro River’s mouth. Five or six boats were there to support us, press was there as well as police and two friends also kitesurfing.
The start was very nice with around 30 knots of wind, good open sea waves, going full speed and heading to Peniche that was around 120 nautical miles away heading south.
As time passed by, the wind started to be lighter and my average speed was lower, which delayed the ETA to the Roca Cape (the most western point of Europe) to about 03h30, instead of the 23h00 that I had predicted. I had a big group of fans waiting to see me passing by at Raso Cape (right after Roca Cape), and they surprised me with a huge show of fireworks that gave me an extra motivation, while I was navigating under extremely strong winds of 35 to 40 knots, completely overpowered, and combined with big waves generated by the cape!
After Raso Cape, the support boat had to go refill with fuel near shore in a sheltered area, where another boat was waiting. This action took place between 04h and 04h25, and I was kitesurfing alone very slowly about 2 miles south of that area, waiting for them to join me again, so that I could continue with the journey.
The night passed smoothly with a big full moon showing the way and kiting full speed, but at around 07h30 of the 18th, the wind was not enough to keep the kite up in the air and it fell on the water, where it stayed for 4 hours until the wind picked up again.
This was a very frustrating moment, when I looked to the GPS to check how many miles I have done so far, it was showing 197 nautical miles, only 2 less than the current record. I could not believe what my eyes were seeing.
During that time, I was seated on the board trying to keep myself awake at all times, since my physiotherapist advised me not to sleep if something like this happened. Unfortunately or not, I fell asleep for about 1h30 against my will, waking up every 10 mins to see if there was wind or because a wave would throw me out of the board into the cold water that was causing a lot of disturbs with the muscles around the knees and feet.
At around 11h30 the wind picked up again, although very light, and I was able to launch the kite and continue my journey down South. A few minutes after, I made 200 nautical miles and was very happy to beat the current record, despite the fact that my main goal was to reach Lagos and meet the entire team and fans.
The following hours to Sagres (St. Vincent Cape) were very tough and my body started to complain in several areas (feet, knees, waist, abdominals, genitals) and the part where I felt more and more pain, was during the last 2 hours between Sagres and Lagos, where I had to go against the wind after being on the water for 27 hours already. That was extremely tough, but all the hard work I have made to be there and all the people that were counting on me, were enough facts to motivate and make me handle that extremely difficult last part.
The finish point that I had established was the pier entrance of the Lagos Marina, and to reach it I had to kitesurf upwind a bit more to East, to beat the wind and be able to arrive there, where I personally wanted it to finish. It was at 20h05. A lot of boats and press were there to support me, even being at night already, and it was a big reception with verylights and people shouting - “You’re a national hero Lufinha!”. It was amazing.
It was the most difficult challenge I ever made and I have never seen my body in such a bad state, like it was after the 29 hours non-stop kitesurfing in open sea.
Details of who took part in the record attempt
Following me all the way was the support boat, mandatory by the Portuguese Navy, which was articulating the operation with their command posts located all the way down the coast.
Inside the boat there were five persons. Two of the persons were independent and volunteer witnesses, Diogo Paes Fernandes, the President of the APKite (official Portuguese Kite Association) and Commandant Mário Teixeira Pinto (Portuguese Navy Rescue Institute officer).
The other 3 persons were members of my team: Paulo Raposeiro is a long time friend that helped me from the training phase and coordinated the operation at sea (talking with me through radio VHF, giving supplies, etc); João Ferrand is a Photographer that captured all the photos and videos for a future documentary; Gustavo Mateus was in charge of the boat handling as the skipper and boat manufacturer.
By land, I had a communication team that was keeping the fans and press updated while we were at sea.
Description of how the record was measured
The original distance of 290 nautical miles was measured through Google Earth straight lines along the shore, but the final measurement that was registered by the GPS unit that I took with me all the way showed more miles than that due to the angle that I had to do with the wind while kitesurfing. The exact track of the journey between the Douro River’s mouth and the Marina de Lagos entrance was 305 nautical miles (564,86 Kms) and I have proudly done it in the most difficult 28h53mins of my life. The complete journey took a bit more time and miles, since I started kitesurfing before the river entrance at Oporto and only stopped at the beach North of the Lagos marina entrance.
Thank you Ozone!
I’m extremely grateful to Ozone for providing me the Edge 13m kite with the customized colors matching the MINI brand standards.
I believe it must have been a tough decision to make, whether to support me or not, since we had no previous relationship and/or proofs given from me in this type of challenge. I congratulate Ozone for believing in this project and in myself, and I’m very happy to have conquered this goal with your kite, showing to the kitesurfers worldwide that Ozone kites are strong and powerful, with top performance capabilities.
After being inflated at sea 29 hours in a row, 4 hours floating in the water, 2 hours heading upwind and 80% of the other 23 hours looping the kite, I estimate to have done around 3000 kiteloops during the MINI Kitesurf Odyssey. Not only the kite but also the lines were in very good shape at the end.
I strongly recommend the Ozone Edge 13m and 9m (the ones I had the opportunity to train with) for big distances, either downwind or upwind.
Read original article: Ozone News:Francisco Lufinha - New World Record - MINI Kitesurf Odyssey