It was blowing a solid 20 mph on a cold and cloudy Saturday. I was sitting on my couch bored out of my mind waiting for something cool to happen. That’s when Richard called me, he said “I’ll be out of work at 3, and I’ll come pick you up. We’re heading to the beach, the wind is cranking and the waves are gnarly.” Right at that point my day went from relaxing/boring to super exciting. I had been hurting to kite for a few weeks by then, and this was an opportunity to go with a good friend and hit the waves. I’ve been surfing since I was 14 years old and this was going to be my triumphant return to wave riding after a year of strict flat water kiting. I was incredibly excited and slightly nervous, but the adventure that awaited us was so much more than that.
The second we got out of the car onto the sand we started to cough. We both looked at each other and said “red tide,” the red tide was as bad as it had been in a long time. If you’re not familiar with red tide, it is a flesh eating algae that irritates your eyes, mouth and nose very badly. But a little irritation was not going to keep us out of the water, not one bit. We started to rig up our kites and noticed that no one else was out and we started to work faster and faster because this was going to be epic. The waves were picking up and the wind was incredibly steady. Richard was riding the Airush Lithium 10m with the 2012 Raptor LTD 132×41 and I was going to be riding the 2012 F-One Bandit V 12m with the Shinn Monk 132×41. We got our kites ready to launch and put on our wetsuits, high fived with excitement and Richard launched me. As I was approaching the water Richard was using his Self Launch tool to launch his kite. I walked into the chilly water overcome with anticipation and excitement, dipped my kite and took off. I started to launch off each peak steadily working my way past the break, the further I got the bigger the faces of the waves were. It seemed like I was constantly in the air, jumping from one wave to another. All of a sudden as I was almost beyond the break a huge set started to roll in, so I dipped my kite powered up and start to hall upwind as fast as possible. I was getting huge air off each wave in the set, and just as the set was about through, a head and half size wave rolled up in front of me. I knew immediately I was not going to make it over before it broke on top of me, so in a split decision I powered up ever more and braced for impact. I smacked the face of the wave with my shoulder first and plowed through the back somehow making it all the way through the other side with enough power to keep riding. It was at this time that Richard started to yell and it was on, he had seen it and it was now documented. It was not pretty, but it certainly got the job done. The rest of the hour and a half session was full of launches upwind and carving waves downwind. We couldn’t wipe the smiles off our faces and couldn’t keep from yelling in excitement. The day was a success; we had survived the red tide and lived to tell the tale. As the sun went down, we made our way back to the car to land the kites. I self landed and then assisted Richard in landing his kite. We then packed up, changed out of the wetsuits and began to notice that we had extreme problems with vision and taste. The red tide had infiltrated our eyes and mouths. I could not keep my eyes open and could not see anything, though the smile was still on my face. We packed up the car, and started the journey back to our homes to sleep off the effects of the red tide.
The day was just as I built it up to be. I had returned to the surf successfully and had witness to testify to it. After all, without a witness how would you be able to tell the story and have it confirmed? And not even red tide could put a negative spin on that day. It was a kite adventure I will remember for a long time. I can still close my eyes and see the sets lining up in front of me.