Coral Bay — and a few dramas…

Just when you think you’ve done the hard bit and the easiest and most hassle-free part of the journey is now ahead of you, the dramas begin to unfold…

Ian left 3-Mile Camp/Tombstones yesterday afternoon with what seemed to be pretty steady and gentle winds ahead. Then about 20km north of Gnaraloo Bay  the wind went a bit crazy, changing directions — even a near-180 degree shift at times to northerlies, with the gusts whipping the kite about madly. I didn’t ask, but I’m guessing that he was flying the 19m at the time. The gusts worsened, swung southerly again and he began getting yanked about as the wind ramped up and down.

At this stage he’ gone too far to head back to Gnaraloo, so with no choice but to continue, running pretty much straight downwind — ironically, one of the most difficult directions to deal with  on a downwinder when it gets gusty, as you’re constantly getting yanked along, outrunning the kite and forever trying to keep the kite from falling out of the sky.

Late afternoon an extra-strong gust ploughs into the kite, blasting the harness apart, ripping the whole rig off, taking the kite, harness, bar line and the leash — and leaving Ian behind, floating with only the board.

He does his best to swim, towing the board,  towards the kite and the rig, now in the water several hundred metres downwind.  After a considerable swim, he’s still roughly 500-600m from the beach at this stage — he manages to catch up with the kite, harness, bar and lines, but because the harness has been ripped apart, he has no way to re-attach the harness. He’s left with no choice but to relaunch the kite (yes, you CAN relaunch a foil from the water!) and try and work his way across the wind back toward the beach, unhooked.

Remember, he’s flying a 19m foil.

After relaunching the kite, even fully depowered, it’s nearly impossible to hang onto it with the gusts and no harness, as the only way to fly is hanging onto the bar with one hand and holding the chicken loop with the other to keep it depowered as much as possible. (remember, his harness has been ripped apart)

The kite goes down a couple more times, Ian relaunches it, finally having to hold onto one side of the bar and kiteloop it over and over to make some downwind progress without losing hold of the kite.  After all the up and down action, at some stage the spreader bar disengages from the harness and is lost.

After some time (remember, wind here is straight cross-shore so you’re getting pulled along the beach, not toward it) Ian manages to edge enough to kite along the beach another 24km (without a harness) where, just before dark, (640pm according to he GPS), coincidentally, he encounters a young bloke, Joey, who’s been taking photos of him — and turns out to be a kiter!

Joey’s camped nearby and Ian attempts to contact the crew, but to no avail.  Joey offers Ian his extra swag and some red wine and before long the red is gone and they crash out.

Turns out that the crew vehicle has had TWO flats while trying to reach Ian, so they were unable to make it to the camp.

This morning, Ian has tied up the harness with some rope and (I’m assuming) has fashioned some form of a make-shift spreader bar that’s allowed him to continue kiting. He’s launched as the wind came in, kiting the remainder of the distance to Coral Bay to await the arrival of the support crew.

My most recent GPS coordinates (1505hrs) showed him stationary at a Coral Bay venue which appears to be the pub…




Ian and the crew are hanging in Gnaraloo today after another successful leg of the SoldierOn mission from Perth to NW Cape. Some extraordinarily generous donors have kicked in some big dollars to the campaign, which has now exceeded its campaign goal of $10,000 by a few thousand. But don’t let that slow down the donations. Any amount that you can afford to help out our Australian soldiers who’ve suffered as a result of service to their country is welcome.


15 November 2014 Ian Young Mission Update

Just spoke with him on the satellite phone about an hour ago. He made it from Carnarvon to Blowholes y’day. Wind at Blowholes had just swung south and started to pick up. Looks like he’s launched the kite and just left the beach at 1207. Forecast is calling 10-15 knots from South initially, turing SW then increasing to 15-20 later, so Ian’s on the 10m Flysurfer today. Today’s target is the Gnaraloo/Toombstones region if all goes to plan, which is about 75km in point-to-point distance. Next possible stopping point is Coral Bay, which is another 90 km beyond Gnaraloo, so suspect he’ll tackle that bit on on another day.

Ian made the news on GWN7 last night. Here’s the clip:

75 km from Blowholes to Toombstones
75 km from Blowholes to Toombstones

Ian Young, Perth to Exmouth Downwinder — Wednesday update

Wednesday night mission update:

Haven’t heard from the boys since about 1:30 this afternoon when the GPS tracker checked in just south of the Hamlin Pools turnoff on NW Coastal Highway.

Given the weather conditions (30+knot Sou’easters and 4m swell) the plan was to drive to Steep Point and assess whether it was feasible to safely restart the journey from there, so I suspect they’ll be camped there tonight and check in tomorrow morning.

A few of Kat’s photos from yesterday as Ian was pushing off from Drummond Cove:

Photo Katarina Smelikova 2014

Photo Katarina Smelikova 2014

Photo Katarina Smelikova 2014

Photo Katarina Smelikova 2014

Photo Katarina Smelikova 2014
Photos: Katarina Smelikova 2014

Port Gregory!

After doing a few minor tweaks to the equipment this morning, Ian and the crew headed off north at around 1325hrs in about 8-10 knots of sou’wester;.

Landed safely in Port Gregory at 1540hrs. 70km –Wow, that’s macking along!

Nautical distance from Perth: About 480 km — You can probably add about another 50% to that number to get the total distance travelled if you include the tacks!

Dave Whettingsteel took these photos of Ian passing Horrocks this afternoon.

Photo: Dave Whettingsteel
Photo: Dave Whettingsteel
Photo: Dave Whettingsteel
Photo: Dave Whettingsteel
Photo: Dave Whettingsteel
Photo: Dave Whettingsteel



GERO! He made it!

GERO! He’s landed! Tried to shadow him from Sunset to Drummonds but not even a chance on my 11m!. Gave up after about 500m and drove the rest of the way. Ian even manged to beat the car to Drummond Cove on the 17m foil! Beers and BBQ done, Ian’s already in the sack catching ZZZzzzzs in preparation for another go tomorrow. 440km in 4 days! Sensational mission so far! Great to see you in such great spirits and great shape!



Kitesurfer Ian Young has left Perth Western Australia today on an epic downwinder of more than 1,300km — From Perth to Exmouth in Western Australia, across some of the most inhospitable and inaccessible coastline in the world.

Ian Young


You can follow Ian’s progress in real time at

Here’s  information from Ian and his team in Perth:

Ian Young is a veteran of more than 22 years service in the Australian Army and has set himself a personal goal of kitesurfing from Perth to the North-West Cape, more than 1300km.

There are many veterans who suffer a variety of health issues and we would like to use this adventure  to increase the awareness of these problems.

Many of us suffer from “donor fatigue” these days with so many “good” causes that need to be tackled, however can I please ask you to consider donating to help those veterans who put their lives on the line to serve their country and now need your help.  Once you have donated you will receive a tax receipt straight away to your email address. All donations made from this link will go straight to Soldier On.

So, please help me help Soldier On by giving what you can to this great cause.

You can also “share” my page with your friends or leave a comment or “like it”. It all helps!

We plan to connect with Ian as he approaches Geraldton in the next few days and ride with him on at least part of the journey–hopefully on Saturday — Contact me if you’re interested in joining us!  

More information about Ian and the project:

Thanks for the opportunity to help raise awareness of the good work do to help service men and women that are suffering as a result of their duty for their country.

Some of the background links you might find useful:

Wish Ian well for a safe and successful journey!

Ian Young



Ian leaving Perth on Friday morning (below)