I have just ticked off the last and only real entry that has even been on my bucket list. It has been sitting there waiting a long time – since I was 16 years old and the boys who lived over the road sailed their little VJ skiff across 19km of open ocean one morning from our coastline to Rottnest Island.
On 18th December 2011, I did an epic kitesurf race across the same 19km of open ocean from Rottnest Island to Leighton Beach Fremantle. To add some spice these waters really are shark infested with white pointers, tiger and bull sharks. Three people were tragicaly killed in separate shark attacks on our local coastline at at Rottnest in October so these are not waters I feel particularly comfortable in. But this was my dream since taking up kitesurfing years ago. With 100 starters and very light winds, nobody was working harder than I was to keep generating power from the kite and keep my board alfoat. I had the smallest kite in the fleet, an 8m Airrush Lithium. I was expecting it to pick up to 25-30 knotts but it barely reached 15, boardline for even keeping a kite in the air.
It was an incredible event and so well organised by WAKSA (Western Australian Kitesurfing Association) with sponsorship by RedBull. I discovered that those ships we see sitting on horizon half way to Rottnest are in fact only 1/4 of the distance across. It is a very long way! From Rottnest you can barely see them at all.
I am very proud that I made the whole distance. At one stage it looked like I could not avoid one of the large ships who’s wind shadow would have ended my race. I managed to just generate enough lift to cross over in front of its nose. At that point 3/4 of the distance done, I knew I could finish the race and in fact the seabreeze picked up a couple of notches on the last 3km from shore.