Posts Tagged ‘kite surfing’


We’re moving to our new domain!!!

July 9, 2009

So exciting, we have finally matured from a blog to a website! I feel so grown-up! Please don’t desert us, follow this link and we’ll continue where we left off…


Richard Branson shows the world how to kitesurf

May 27, 2009

The other day we had one of our regular rants about the environment, global warming and the awful destruction of the rainforests, amongst other things, and we showed you the video made by The Prince’s Rainforest Project.

This video has now been viewed more than 500,000 times over various sites and their next initiative is to launch their Supporter of the Week.

This week it is Richard Branson, entrepreneur, adventurer and founder of the Virgin group, who was filmed with the frog‘ to demonstrate that there is a global determination for change on this issue.

Although he had little success on the video in changing the frog into a beautiful woman, there was obviously, from the following photo, a delayed but successful result to his efforts:

Richard Branson and Denni Parkinson. ‘I only wish I had eyes in the
back of                               my head’ he told the Daily Mail.
(Photo credit: Stephane Gautronneau)

In fact, so successful was his kite surfing weekend on Necker Island, that the Alinghi (defender of the America’s Cup) coach and and performance analysts, Pierre Yves Jorand (SUI) and Peter Evans (NZL)  spent a lot of time studying and analyzing the photographs from Mr Bransons kitesurfing weekend and were able to give this exclusive report for World Sailing News.

¨From what we can tell it looks like it was blowing on shore at the time, suggesting an afternoon seabreeze, as the wind would have been sucked onto the land – probably in the region of 13 knots to begin with the pressure rising steadily throughout the afternoon, maybe up to 17 or 18 knots. The technique is good, his feet are in the correct position and he seems to have good control. When wet, the board shorts and long hair will be adding to the drag a little –  the added weight will not help his performance therefore but nevertheless, judging by the smile on his face he is clearly enjoying himself. This has the effect of helping him to relax and at least feel phsycologically that he is giving the best performance possible. This is the key thing  – and it´s therefore something we will be recommending as part of their training regime to both Brad Butterworth and Ed Baird before they compete at their next D 35 regatta¨

Responding to the recommendations from the Alinghi performace analysts, Ed Baird, said, ´One of the great things about working for a team like Alinghi is that all the people around you are constantly searching for that little bit of something special to help make the boat go faster. Pierre Yves and Peter Evans seem to have nailed it again, and I for one look forward to joining in the process, learning from it, sharing that experience and getting in amongst it¨

Brad Butterworth said, ´Yes, lets go´!

But to end on a serious note, let us quickly remind you that:

  • the destruction of tropical rainforests accounts for 17% of CO2 emissions…
  • that the Amazon alone circulates 20 billion tonnes of water every day which helps water the crops that feed the global population…
  • that an area of tropical rainforest the size of a football pitch is destroyed every 4 seconds…

Note that Branson has chosen a very eco-friendly sport!


What is it with Red Bull?

April 23, 2009

As you know we are all about extreme sports and in our endeavours to bring you interesting news and stories we do a lot of research into all kinds of whacky things that people get up to both in their spare time and professionally. One name that keeps popping up all the time is Red Bull. Beyond the high energy drink what is it with Red Bull?

Red Bull was founded by Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian businessman and billionaire, whose parents were Croatian and who currently owns a 49 per cent share in the energy drinks giant, Red Bull GmbH. He was born on May 20 1944 in St. Marein im Murztal in the region of Styria.

Dietrich Mateschitz

Life was fairly ordinary for Mateschitz as he grew up in Austria. He attended the Vienna University of Economics and Business Administration and graduated with a marketing degree after ten years.

After finishing his degree, Mateschitz went on to work for Proctor & Gamble, where he was employed within their marketing department. He progressed up the career ladder to eventually become the marketing director for Blendax tooth paste. It was during one particular business trip that the initial idea for a stimulant beverage began to take shape.

Dietrich Mateschitz

Dietrich Mateschitz


In 1982, when sitting in a hotel in Hong Kong and suffering from jetlag, Mateschitz was musing into the popularity of ‘tonic drinks’ that were big sellers in the Far East when the idea of selling similar beverages in the West came to him. He then went on to form a partnership with a couple of local businessmen who were already producing a drink called ‘Krating Daeng’ (Thai water buffalo) and it was from this that Red Bull was born.

He founded Red Bull GmbH with his Thai partners Chaleo & Chalerm Yoovidhya. It was agreed that Mateschitz would run the company and after much research, testing and set backs, the caffeinated energy drink was finally launched in Austria in 1987.

Red Bull was an instant hit in it’s native country and as sales continued to grow, it was launched in other European countries. Not everything went so swimmingly though. Sales in Germany suffered as supply couldn’t meet the demand of 1 million cans per day and the product had to be re-launched six months later. France and Denmark banned the sale of the drink due to health concerns over the high caffeine level and the use of the chemical taurine.

But health issues aside, over the years Red Bull has managed to take a strong foothold in the competitive drinks market in Europe and America. In most countries, it lines up third behind the likes of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the total number of cans consumed. By 2008 sales of Red Bull had increased by 17% on the previous year to 3bn Euros ($4.4bn; £2.3bm) having shifted 3.5bn cans in 143 different countries. These impressive statistics are mainly due to clever marketing which has increased the profile of the drink through non-traditional advertising streams.

From the outset the Red Bull brand has been associated with a variety of glamorous and exciting sporting events such as mountain-biking, snowboarding and paragliding. With Mateschitz being the marketing strategist that he is, he saw the potential on offer by tapping into large audiences and giving the Red Bull brand a “cool” image by being linked with sports and athletes. The profile of the brand seemingly increasing as a result of the many extreme sporting events the company sponsored.

So what are the extreme sports that the company sponsors. What follows is a compendium of just some of those extreme sports.

  • Rugby Union
  • Downhill Mountain Bike Racing
  • BMX
  • Snowboarding
  • Freestyle Soccer
  • Aerobatic Flying
  • Kite Surfing
  • Skate Boarding
  • BASE Jumping
  • Soccer
  • Athletics
  • Cricket
  • Wake Boarding
  • High Diving
  • FMX
  • Free Skiing
  • Formula 1
  • Cliff Diving
  • Air Racing
  • Surfing
  • Rallying
  • Crashed Ice
  • Break Dance
  • Para Gliding
  • MX Racing
  • MX Freestyle
  • Daytona
  • Art
  • Music
  • Dance

Well that won’t be all – we are bound to have missed a few out – other than the energy drink then this is what Red Bull is about – marketing. It sponsors events and individuals in these high profile sporting events – what brilliant marketing – something Mr Mateschitz obviously learnt very well during his ten years at university.

To add to the fun we thought you would appreciate a couple of videos of extreme sports that Red Bull is supporting. The first, not surprisingly from redbull is of some truly awesome action from Red Bull Rampage – mountain biking in Utah.

The second is again from redbull of the Snowscrapers event held in New York in February which was won by Shayne Pospisil.

This one from redbullusa demonstrates the humourous side of Red Bull – some crashes from soapbox racing at an event they sponsored held in Seattle.

No doubt about it – a great combination of fun, sport and adrenaline – keep up the good work Red Bull.


Kite surfing – playing the piano and waterstarts

March 13, 2009

Continuing our series on how to kite surf we have found two videos which we believe you will find extremely useful as a beginner to this exciting sport.

The first video from How2Kite demonstrates how to ‘play the piano’ with one hand. This is essential knowledge as when you are putting the board on your feet you only have the one hand to control the kite. By moving your hand to the right or left of the centre of the bar – as if you were playing the piano – you will find that the kite moves in the opposite direction. The skill is to have enough finesse in your hand not to over-do the correction. When putting the board on your feet you should be aiming to have the kite above your head at an imaginary 12 o’clock.

The second video from andxto99 is an excellent demonstration on how to execute the water start, we suggest one of the first and most essential lessons to learn. As we have just learned you will be keeping the kite overhead by playing the piano and you will be holding your board with your other hand. As you go into the water try to keep the kite out to sea and at a low angle as this will avoid any gust taking you airbourne when still on the beach.

Once in the water place the board in front of you and then put one foot into the boards footstrap, and then the other, making sure your feet are secure. Allow yourself to be pulled down wind by the kite.

When ready for launch you have to dive the kite into the power zone in the direction you want to go. Place the kite at 11 o’clock and dive it down to 2 o’clock and the kite will have the power to pull you out of the water. Remember to bend the knee of your back leg and extend your leading leg.

Sounds easier than it is but remember there is a first time for everyone – keep practicing, take lessons, don’t rush, build your confidence.


Devon and Cornwall’s top ten beach locations

March 12, 2009

So we know things are bad – there has been enough press about the depth and extent of the recession that at least the paper industry should be doing well (its not actually, so times are really bad) – you’ve probably lost your job, your bonus and the potential to make any serious money for the next thirty years – its therefore probably time to start cutting your cloth to your budget.

Well if thats you it may mean cancelling the five bedroomed villa in secluded countryside with large pool and guest house in the South of France to something closer to home. We therefore thought you might be interested to read Dorling Kindersley’s recommendations which they have recently published and which we picked up in The Times On Line for where to go in Devon or Cornwall.

Of course should you decide on this drastic action you must remember that the ‘Beam me up Scottie’ machine has still not been invented ( now there’s an opportunity, but we will not be volunteering ourselves as the test pilot – that would be one extreme too far!) and so you will have to face the wonderful A30, or even worse the A38 as you meander your way into Cornwall’s green and pleasant land.

Of course on that day the sun will be shining without remorse but, because you couldn’t afford to have the car serviced (thanks Flash Gordon) the godarned air conditioner has packed up and the temperature in the car has risen to over 90 degrees F. The two elder children are shouting, pinching and yelling at each other whilst the baby has just expunged itself of waste from both ends – the smell rises and forces you to crease your nostrils – desperately you look down to turn the fan on flat out – BANG – the mother in front of you has stopped and now you have caused the mother of an accident.

Three hours later you are on your way again in a replacement vehicle arriving at your destination to find your room has been filled by another traveller…..

We paint a grim picture – thanks Gordon – but in reality the Devon and Cornish beaches are some of the finest in the world, with great surf, huge expanses of white and golden sand and a vast and bracing ocean. Fun can be had for all the family – from the little ‘uns who can spend hours in harmony building castles in the sand or hunting for crabs in the endless rock pools, to the next generation who can surf, waterski, paraglide, mountain bike, kite surf and wind surf, to the less extreme activities for perhaps Mom and Pop who can go fishing, golfing, walking and sailing.

It is a magical, wonderful place – just two things – the getting there thing…….oh and the weather has broken when you do arrive – make your own fun!


One of the finest bays of the Penwith Peninsula, Porthcurno, with its wedge of white sand mixed with tiny shells, is squeezed between granite cliffs. The rock-hewn Minack Theatre is located to one side and there is a museum of telegraphy at the back of the beach. Pubs and cafés can be found close by. 

Porthcurno beach, Cornwall

Par Beach, Isles of Scilly

Majestic, bare and wild, the beaches on St Martin’s are considered to be the best on the Isles of Scilly. Par Beach on the island’s southern shore is probably the most impressive – a long, empty strand looking out onto rocks that make up the Eastern Isles. Be prepared for chilly water though.

Whitesand Bay

This expanse of fine sand close to Land’s End is a favourite with surfers and families alike. It has a good beachside café and at Sennen Cove, the more popular southern end of the beach, is the Old Success Inn. Surfing equipment is available for hire and courses are also provided.

Kynance Cove

This is one of the best options on the Lizard Peninsula, where beaches are few and far between. The 10-minute walk from the car park is well worth the trudge for its fine white sands, rocky spires and surrounding grassy areas. Swimming is limited by the tides but other attractions include caves and cliffs with serpentine seams of sand.

Woolacombe Bay

Surf dudes come from far and wide to one of the West Country’s most famous surfing beaches. The beach is popular with families and there is a warren of dunes behind for exploring. Crowds gather at the northern end, but more space can be found at the quieter southern end. The small resort of Woolacombe has shops and cafés.

Fistral Bay

Surf aficionados flock to this beach, which is the venue for surfing competitions. A surf centre supplies equipment for hire. Most of the sand is covered by water at high tide and strong currents mean that kids need to be careful, though lifeguards are present throughout the summer. The restaurants and cafés here offer outdoor seating.

Watergate Bay

North of Newquay, this arc of golden sand has a wild appeal. It is home to the Extreme Academy, which offers kite-surfing, land-boarding and other pursuits for the adventurous. Behind it are Jamie Oliver’s famous restaurant, Fifteen, and the more casual Beach Hut, both with splendid views. Watergate is not very sheltered, so make sure you carry windbreakers.

Tunnels Beach, Ilfracombe

This private beach is named after the tunnels that have provided access to it since 1823, when the swimming was segregated. There is a tidal bathing pool and on-duty lifeguards make the beach safe for kids. The rock pooling is top-class and there are kayaks for hire. Open Apr–Jun & Sep–Oct: 10am–6pm; Jul–Aug: 9am–9pm.

Croyde Bay

Sandwiched between the extensive west-facing Saunton Sands and Woolacombe, this compact bay has fine sand. There are campsites around and the village has pubs and bars that fill up in the evenings.

Blackpool Sands

Backed by woods and meadows, this family-friendly beach makes an enticing sight as it swings into view on the road from Dartmouth. Its sheltered location, clear water and fine sand makes this one of South Devon’s best swimming spots. For refreshments there is the renowned Venus Café.

Top 10 Devon & Cornwall is published by Dorling Kindersley, priced £7.99, and is available at

We wonder why the likes of Damar Bay with the villages of Rock, Polzeath and Padstow – home to Rick Stein’s gastronomique delights (he has four restaurants there – or certainly did have before Gordon took charge!), has not made it to the top ten………………perhaps too upper class and too many drugs of the nefarious kind, reportedly. Let us know your thoughts and get on down there, it will be a blast.


What else can you do with a kite?

March 9, 2009

Kite surfing, THE top extreme sport of the moment, has been written about regularly on our blog, as have many of the other uses you can put your kite to such as kite board and kite ski-ing on snow or sand, kite with all-terrain roller blades or mountain board, and kiting with a hydro-foil board.

One sport we haven’t given much coverage to, as yet, is parakarting – or kite buggying, said to be one of the most popular forms of power kiting.

This sport combines the force of the wind using a large power kite and a 3-wheeled buggy with no brakes but a whole lot of speed! Sound like fun?

The buggy is single-seated and has one steerable front wheel and two fixed rear wheels. The driver sits in the seat in the middle of the vehicle and accelerates and slows down by applying steering manoeuvres in coordination with flying the kite. He is not strapped in. Thanks to ventoactivo for posting this video.

Kite buggying has an interesting history. It is thought to have been invented in China around the 13th century and was introduced into the western world by George Pocock, an inventor in the UK in 1827. Kite buggies became commercially available  in the US and UK in the late 1970’s. Peter Lynn is generally credited  with the modern popularity of buggies and kite buggying when, in the early 1990’s, he designed a strong, lightweight, affordable buggy.

If you are a newcomer to this sport it is adviseable to start with a relatively small kite in relatively low wind conditions (e.g. 2 to 3 m² kites in winds of force 2 to 3) and progress to bigger kites or higher wind conditions as ability improves. Novices should first master full control over their kite before considering the next step – the actual kite buggying bit.

Buggying can be done on a number of surfaces including grass, sand, ice and tarmac. The speed achieved in kite buggies by skilled drivers can range up to around 110 km/h (70 mph), and for this reason protective clothing  is advised – including a safety helmet.

A more extreme version of this sport is buggy jumping:

This involves the pilot being physically attached to the buggy by means of a lap belt and uses a  relatively large kite.  He flies the kite overhead to generate maximum lift and is then—with the buggy—hoisted up to tens of feet into the air. Very advanced pilots even perform aerial manoeuvres such as 360° (or more) spins, sidewinders, pendulum swings and reverse landings.

Kite buggying  can be classified as an extreme sport. Wind is the only power source and is often very unpredictable. An attitude of caution and respect towards the wind is essential, for the novice  as well as the advanced pilot.

Remember, a frequent cause of accidents is flying a kite too large for the wind conditions and for the experience of the pilot. In such a case, buggy and pilot tend to be pulled downwind, often skidding and sliding sideways with a high risk of the pilot entirely losing control of kite and buggy. This can be avoided by flying kites small enough so that they allow the pilot to safely stop the buggy by turning it through the wind and driving upwind. 

supermanred shows us all the thrills and spills of buggy jumping…


Anne’s nearing mid-way but still in the Doldrums

December 3, 2008

“A hobby a day keeps the doldrums away…”

This hasn’t been quite true for Anne Quéméré. Although nearly halfway through her epic voyage, she is still in the Doldrums but definitely figuratively not literally – her news is upbeat and positive although finishing her last piece of fresh food – an apple, was a sad moment!

“There’s no doubt that the idea of getting closer to the midway point helps me cope.  While looking at the map and considering the distance travelled, it’s a bit of a victory!”

Ever since being in the Doldrums she has had non-stop rain though fortunately these storms have been accompanied by strong southerly winds which she has been able to take advantage of.

So what exactly are these fabled Doldrums?

The Doldrums, also known as the Intertropical Convergence Zone (ITCZ), is the low-pressure area around the equator where the prevailing winds are calm. The low pressure is caused by the heat at the equator, which makes the air rise and travel north and south high in the atmosphere. It is drawn into the intertropical convergence zone by the action of the Hadley cell, a macroscale atmospheric feature which is part of the Earth’s heat and moisture distribution system. It is transported aloft by the convective activity of thunderstorms; regions in the intertropical convergence zone receive rain over 200 days in a year. It subsides again in the horse latitudes. Some of that air returns to the doldrums through the trade winds.

This is a real learning curving… so what are the horse latitudes?

These are subtropic latitudes between 30 and 35 degrees both north and south. This region, under a ridge of high pressure called the subtropical ridge, is an area which receives little precipitation and has variable winds mixed with calm.

Now this is an interesting little piece of history. Why the name horse latitudes?

The name supposedly originates from the days when Spanish sailing vessels transported horses to the West Indies. Ships would often become becalmed in mid-ocean in this latitude, thus severely prolonging the voyage; the resulting water shortages would make it necessary for crews to throw their horses overboard.

Gruesome isn’t it. Poor horses… perhaps the relic of that piece of history are angry wave caps being called “white horses”… what do you think?! Stretching it a little perhaps?!

Anyways, back to Anne Quéméré.

“Here, its always the same solitude: no cargos in sight and no sails heading South.  My radar is working constantly, especially at night when I sleep.  On certain days, I’m so tired, a herd of wild cargoes could cross my route and I wouldn’t even notice it,” she says.

“I’ve resumed my exercises,” she continues, “and not without pain as the kite can’t seem to settle itself in the proper window and I have to manoeuvre considerably to avoid it dropping in the water.  It doesn’t always work and thank God I’m alone because my remarks would scandalize more than a few with some of my foul language!”

She is hoping that a little more than 4° Longitude and she should start seeing some sunshine.  That means, in the best of conditions, another 5 days if the wind holds.

Lines of longitude appear curved in this projection, but are actually halves of great circles.

It’s a real feat what Anne is accomplishing, and fascinating following her progress. Let those winds blow steadily…