Archive for March, 2009

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Cut-off date extended for the Tour de Wakatipu in New Zealand

March 31, 2009

Due to popular demand, the deadline to enter the New World Tour de Wakatipu mountain bike event has been extended to the 5th April, 5pm. This is the inaugural 2009 Easter event. Ignore the previous deadline and spread the word!

ENTRY FEE:
$65 per person
$45 Junior (19 years and under)

For all entries $5 go to Cure Kids.

We first told you all about this event a few weeks ago… 7th March to be exact, and it seems as though so much attention has been drawn to the event that the response has been fantastic – 500 confirmed entrants so far and expected to climb to 700 or so.

Remember that the 45km event takes place in previously inaccessible parts of the district, traversing a course from Millbrook Resort to Chard Farm. The entries for the event now close on Sunday 5th April. The race is on Easter Saturday, 11th April.

The event, which caters for elite, sport and recreational mountain bikers, “has caught the imagination of people from all over the region and other parts of the South Island,” says Geoff Hunt, director of Southern Traverse and organisers of the event.

“This is an event which offers people exclusive access to the right
bank of the Kawarau River. The chance to go to places which are
usually off limits has created a huge response with over half the
field entered in the recreational division. This indicates clearly
the demand from ‘social athletes’ for events of this nature and we
are pleased to be able to provide a course which suits all levels.”

So, if you’re in the vicinity, and looking for something different to do – go to the official website and sign up quickly on the online entry form…

www.tourdewakatipu.co.nz

And while we’re reminding you about forthcoming events, if freediving is what you’re interested in, don’t forget that the Dean’s Blue Hole Competition  starts tomorrow, 1st April and will go on until the 11th.

Dean’s Blue Hole is the world’s deepest blue hole (underwater sinkhole), which plunges 202 meters (663ft) to the ocean floor, in a bay on Long Island, Bahamas.

Good luck everyone…

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Live life to the full

March 31, 2009

Yesterday we reported on the tragic news of Shane McConkey’s death whilst doing something that he really loved to do  – ski and wingsuit fly. It went wrong, likely equipment failure but anyone who knew Shane also knows that he died doing what he loved to do – he was not the kind of person to let life pass him bye.

Another man who lives life to the full and whom we report on today is Phil Keoghan of Amazing Races fame who has just set out on a bicycle to ride 3,500 miles from Santa Monica in California to New York City.

“What drives me is really my will to live,” said Keoghan, who had a near-death experience when he was 19 years old: He almost drowned while diving inside a shipwreck. “I’m inspired by people who seek to squeeze the lifeblood out of life. I just have this overwhelming desire to take as much of the opportunity to live as I can because you look around you and you realize a lot of people are already dead.”

The bike ride during which he will cycle up to 100 miles per day, has two major purposes: to promote his TV show – The Amazing Race – and help raise money and awareness for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.

Keoghan has been an avid cycler for years, averaging about 12 hours a week on a bike, and he’s also been active in Bike MS, a nonprofit organization that has raised nearly $700 million to support the fight against the crippling disease that attacks the central nervous system.

Phil Keoghan setting out from Santa Monica

Phil Keoghan setting out from Santa Monica

Not only do we laud Keoghan for the extreme personal effort (in raising awareness of multiple sclerosis) that it will take to ride 3,500 miles across the USA – on some days he will be hoping to complete more than 100 miles, and then there is also the not so small matter of having to ascend no less than 3 mountain passes of over 10,000 feet in altitude as he climbs his way to Denver, Colorado – but it is his view on life that is so inspiring.

Who are you? Are you someone who lives life to the full or are you someone who just lives? We know what Shane McConkey would have said and for sure Phil Keoghan is a believer in living to live. How many times have you heard people say…… ‘I wish I had done that’. Well thats no good – just get off your fat ass and do it, create your personal goal, achieve your personal goal and then glow in the aura of self satisfaction and see and feel the confidence that it will give you – we don’t believe you get a second bite at the cherry!

For information on how Phil is doing on his epic journey you can visit his website www.philridesacrossamerica.com and here you will also find details of where you can join him on his journey for what will surely be some welcome support.

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Equipment failure to blame for McConkey’s fatal crash?

March 30, 2009

The tragic news of Shane McConkey’s death on Thursday while skiing/wingsuit flying in the Italian Dolomites would appear to have its root cause in failure of the equipment that McConkey was using. This is according to an emailed statement released by JT Holmes who was with McConkey at the time of the accident and reported by Tim Mutrie.

The statement is reproduced below:

‘Yesterday, March 26, 2009, Shane died while skiing in Italy. There are some technical aspects that are left out from this statement, and it does not touch upon the beauty of the Dolomites and the skiing we shared before the accident or Shane’s typical shining persona, full of adventure, humor and life experience.

We chose to ski off of a cliff with our wingsuits and fly them away from the cliff wall before opening our parachutes for landing. We skied and hiked off of the Pordoi cable car to a spot Shane had base jumped once before, in the summer. We spent a bunch of time preparing for the jump, building a kicker, helping each other gear up, and finally we were pleased and prepared and went for it.

Shane did a double back flip in perfect McConkey style. As planned, afterwards, he went to release his skis in order to fly away from the wall and safely deploy his parachute. This is where the jump went wrong. He was not able to release either of his skis. He remained focused on releasing them by reaching down towards his bindings. This put him into a spin/tumble/unstable falling style, that may have appeared out of his control, but in reality, Shane was not concerned about flying position or style; just concerned with reaching those skis so that he could get them off and fly or deploy his parachute. He succeeded in releasing both of skis and immediately transitioned into a perfect flying position; then he impacted the snow, and died at that moment.

The whole thing took place in about 12 seconds. Once he released the skis, he was immediately in control of the flight and would have only seen the ground and imminent impact for a tiny fraction of a second before he hit. Shane’s parachute did not malfunction; it was never deployed.’

Shane McConkey was born in Vancouver, British Columbia and became a professional skier based out of Squaw Valley, California. He won numerous awards and competitions. McConkey started as a competitive freestyle skier, but moved on to be featured in a long line of extreme skiing movies. McConkey was known for combining BASE jumping with skiing, as seen in such feats as skiing into a BASE jump off the Eiger. He had more recently taken to winsuit flying and believed there was nothing better than skiing down a mountain, launching himself off a cliff and flying like a bird.

He is survived by his wife, Sherry, and 3-year-old daughter, Ayla.

Shane McConkey

Shane McConkey

And as if we could ever forget we have included just one short video footage of Shane in action where it is self evident to see a master of his chosen profession at work – a combination of balance, grace, skill and courage.

We send our most sincere condolences to Sherry and Ayla.

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Extreme Ocean Racing

March 29, 2009

We received many comments from both race organisers and individuals interested in the Vendee Globe in which the last competitor finished on March 15th and therefore thought it only right to mention another mighty world circumnavigation that is currently underway. The Volvo Ocean Race is an exceptional test of sailing prowess and human endeavour which has been built on the spirit of great seafarers – fearless men who sailed the world’s oceans aboard square rigged clipper ships more than a century ago.

Their challenge back then was not a race as such, but recording the fastest time between ports. This meant new levels of pride for themselves and great recognition for their vessel.

The spirit that drove those commercial sailors along the web of trade routes, deep into the bleak latitudes of the Southern Ocean and around the world’s most dangerous capes, emerges today in the form of the Volvo Ocean Race, a contest now seen as the pinnacle of achievement in the sport.

We are extremely grateful to the Volvo Ocean Race website www.volvooceanrace.org for this historical information. 

The first edition of this sporting adventure came in the wake of two remarkable sailors of the last century, Sir Francis Chichester and Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, men who drew worldwide acclaim for amazing solo voyages around the planet. Inevitably their success led to talk in international sailing circles of a race around the world for fully crewed yachts. It became a reality in 1973 with The Whitbread round the World Race, the longest, most demanding and perilous sporting contest the world had known.

Dangerous it was. In that very first race three competing sailors were lost after being washed overboard during storms. This led to the inevitable call for that inaugural contest to be the last, but the desire for unbridled adventure and great competition led to the race being staged every four years.

The re-badged Volvo Ocean Race was run for the first time in 2001-02. Today it is, quite simply, the ‘Everest of Sailing’.

During the nine months of the 2008-09 Volvo, which starts in Alicante, Spain in October 2008 and concludes in St Petersburg, Russia, during late June 2009, the teams will sail over 37,000 nautical miles of the world’s most treacherous seas via Cape Town, Kochi, Singapore, Qingdao, around Cape Horn to Rio de Janeiro, Boston, Galway, Goteborg and Stockholm.

Each of the seven entries has a sailing team of 11 professional crew, and the race requires their utmost skills, physical endurance and competitive spirit as they race day and night for more than 30 days at a time on some of the legs. They will each take on different jobs onboard the boat and on top of these sailing roles, there will be two sailors that have had medical training, as well as a sailmaker, an engineer and a media specialist.

During the race the crews will experience life at the extreme: no fresh food is taken onboard so they live off freeze dried fare, they will experience temperature variations from -5 to +40 degrees Celsius and will only take one change of clothes. They will trust their lives to the boat and the skipper and experience hunger and sleep deprivation.

The race is the ultimate mix of world class sporting competition and on the edge adventure, a unique blend of onshore glamour with offshore drama and endurance.

It is undeniably the world’s premier global race and one of the most demanding team sporting events in the world.

Ports of call for the Volvo World Ocean Race

Ports of call for the Volvo World Ocean Race

The promotional video below from Darkxtremheb will give you a better idea of what is involved in this extreme test of stamina, sailing skill, nerve and team effort.

The race is now well under way and the boats having rounded Cape Horn are heading north for their next port of call which is Rio de Janeiro in Brazil. That will mark the end of leg 5 whereupon the teams will have to ready themselves for the 6th leg from Rio to Boston which starts on  April 11th at 13.00 hours local time.

At the time of writing Ericsson 4 leads the 8 teams overall with Puma in second place and Telefonica Blue in third place.  But it is likely to be Ericsson 3 that is the first boat to arrive into Rio with Ericsson 4, Puma and Green Gragon making the most of some difficult sailing conditions – high pressure. 

However with another 5 legs to be completed it is not unreasonable to say that anything could happen. For up to date information we suggest you log onto the official race website – the link for which follows: www.volvooceanrace.org

This is without doubt one of the most extreme sporting events happening in the world today.

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Farewell to winter

March 28, 2009

Here in the northern hemisphere we are caught in between a rock and a hard place – on Wednesday we looked up into the azur skies and for the first time this year we saw arrivals from the south – swallows and house martins whirled in the blustery skies and we smiled at the thought of the impending arrival of summer and the warmth – it has been a cold, long, hard and wet winter.

On the other hand and determined not to let go of the winter we decided to head for the mountains the next day. No more than a two hour drive from where we live we headed up the Var valley from Nice and toward Valberg in the Mercantour – part of the Alpes Maritimes range. Perhaps the snow was not as perfect as what we had experienced in January and February but it was still in plentiful supply – something you could not say about  people. It was as though the lifts, pistes and restaurants had been reserved exclusively for us. Wide open mountains, clinging to their winter hue, sugared and yet warm.

It was fabulous to have the freedom to go where we wanted and when we wanted and without having to wear all the goretexed, insulated, waterproofed, windproofed paraphernalia that is so necessary in January. Probably the best day of the winter and as we left we thought it would probably be the last time this year – yes it is time to put the kit away.

But it has been an AB FAB year and as a reminder of the fun that has been had in the mountains we found this excellent video of some truly extreme skiing put together by adsaru which will hopefully give us all some happy memories.

With the arrival of the swallows it is likely that our attention will be drawn toward extremes found in and on the water and don’t forget that Formula 1 kicks off its 2009 season in Melbourne this weekend – oh and also that the clocks move forward an hour – at least in France! for once being caught between the rock and the hard place doesn’t seem so bad.

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Kite Buggying in New Zealand – the heart of all extreme sports

March 27, 2009

I am sure it goes without saying, that of course New Zealand is the perfect place for kite buggying. New Zealand is a great place for all extreme sports; hey, New Zealand probably invented most of the world’s extreme sports, so kite buggying fits in perfectly.

There are plenty of empty beaches, and the wind is nearly always good – aided and abetted by the fact that New Zealand is made up of two small islands in the middle of a vast ocean.

Do I need to remind you what kite buggying is – exactly?

It is the sport of flying a large kite – a kite big enough to pull you a few metres when fully inflated. You sit in a three-wheeler stainless steel ‘buggy’ using foot pegs on the single front wheel to steer. Using the kite for power, you steer (with your feet) the buggy in a direction approximately at right-angles to the wind direction on a relatively hard surface – sand, grass or maybe even tarmac. That’s it in a nutshell.

However, that doesn’t even begin to give you the sense of fun and thrill and anticipation and excitement that you can get from this extreme sport.

There is an inherent danger involved with the sport, as with all sports. After all, you are sitting  strapped into a large metal object, traveling at potentially high speeds – up to 60 km/h + can be achieved,  holding on to a kite and at the mercy of the wind. But… kite buggying’s safety record is very good and with with the right safety gear the average buggier should never receive a bad injury.

Great video from PowerkiteshopTV.

Beaches are a great place to kite buggy. Hard compact sand is probably the most popular surface for buggying. Soft sand is OK if you have wide wheels often called bigfoot wheels. Grass is harder work and tarmac is extreme and good for speed runs, but that’s about it – and you have to compete with bigger, more threatening things on the road!

Several beaches in New Zealand have the optimum wind direction and perfect conditions for buggying.

Some goods ones are Brighton Beach (Christchurch), Rabbit Island (Nelson), Ohope Beach (Ohope),Nagarunui Beach and Ruapuke Beach (Raglan), and Mokau Beach (between Te Kuiti and New Plymouth). There are many others, but these ones are good.

These beaches have no restrictions imposed on them, although some do have verbal agreements. It is adviseable to check the situation if you havn’t been there before.

As a P.S. to this blog…. what exactly IS the ‘right safety gear?

Most power kites should come with some sort of emergency release system to enable you to get rid of the kite if it starts to get too much. Protection gear should also be worn, such as helmet, shades (keeps sand out of the eyes on beaches), good sturdy footwear and maybe knee and elbow pads.

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From mountainboarding to mountainboard kiting

March 26, 2009

With mountain boarding one of the fastest growing extreme sports, is was only a matter of time, before the board was teamed up with the kite as so eloquently shown here by  Davelea360.

If you already kitesurf, making the transition to kite-mountainboarding is quite simple. A power kite can provide the energy to ride in parks, beaches, cross-country, or on a dry lake bed.

Remember that a mountain board is little more than an off road skate board with pneumatic tires, foot straps, and adjustable suspension for better ride and handling performance.

MBS Pro 100 Mountainboard with noSno soft bindings

When kitesurfing you are using the power of the kite to keep you on top of the water. Water creates a drag on the board so more power, and therefore a bigger kite, is needed.

However, with kiteboarding you are supported by a hard surface, whether it be sand or grass, therefore less friction, and so getting going is much easier. This means that you will need a kite which is one size (or maybe two sizes) smaller.

Getting muddy on a kiteboard
Andy Wardley, pictured above, was  one of the pioneers of kite landboarding He was among the first people to ride a mountain board under kite power back at the end of the last century (!) – 1999.

You change the tyre pressure depending on the surface you will be kiteboarding on: softer for sand, harder for grass. Softer tyres are also more forgiving on your body when riding on rougher terrain.

Here are some useful kiteboarding safety tips that should be thought about and remembered:

  • Have fun and stay safe while riding by making sure to wear a helmet, gloves, elbow pads, knee pads, long pants and long sleeves while kite mountainboarding.
  • If you wear your board-rider retention leash while riding; make certain it is fastened snugly above your lead leg’s knee pad to reduce the potential of knee injury from twisting your leg.
  • Use caution at all times. Kite within your limits and stay away from picnic areas, or populated parks.
  • Always scout (survey) your terrain prior to attempting to ride it. Watch out for hidden obstacles and unseen dangers. Point out hidden dangers to others.
  • Always be aware of and respect all automobiles, cyclists and pedestrians. Be mindful of others especially moving cars.
  • Use a lower tire pressure to slow your speed if just starting.
  • Practice stopping techniques frequently by bringing the kite overhead slowly, or slightly past, to resist your forward movement.
  • Recognize the distance required for these stops. Always practice your stopping technique even after you feel you know it.
  • When riding with others – always yield to the other rider. If both riders yield, problems will be avoided.
  • Observe and obey all posted signs. Only ride where permission is granted.
  • Always respect your environment, tread lightly to preserve nature.
  • Do not litter the parks with garbage.