Ian’s left Turquoise Bay at 1303 hrs and with his current rate of travel of around 30km/hr, looks like he’ll arrive at Jansz Beach at around 1415hrs to complete the 1,300+km journey today!
Spoke with Ian this morning. He’s all amped, in great shape and great spirits for the final charge to the finish line. 40km more, and it’d done!
TV stations and newspapers have taken a big interest in the past day or so and the Sunday Time wants to do an article for this week’s newspaper; TV stations are chasing video footage and the ABC will be interviewing Ian live on-air in Geraldton on Friday or Saturday, depending on when they arrive back this way.
Current ETA on the finish line is expected to be between 15oo-1530hrs this afternoon at Jansz Beach in Exmouth just SW of the Lighthouse.
GPS: (cut and paste into Google maps)
Stay tuned, more to follow.
Ian, kiting past Winderabandi this morning on the final run up the Ningaloo Coast. Arriving in Exmouth tomorrow.
For anyone in the area interested in meeting Ian on his arrival in Exmouth on Thursday afternoon, here’s the expected location where he’ll land, near the Exmouth lighthouse:
(just paste these number directly into Google Maps to find the location)
Looks like he’s stopped at Turquoise Bay for the night. Couldn’t imagine a better place to be at the moment!
TUESDAY EVENING UPDATE: 2052hrs
No word from Ian or the crew this afternoon or evening but he switched off the GPS tracker at 615pm after making his way to the beach and to the last vestiges of “civilisation” about 55km north or Coral Bay and 53km south of Yardie Creek. I’m not sure what’s there but on Google Earth, it looks like perhaps a ranger depot or something similar. There’s absolutely nothing else man-made within 50km of his current location so hopefully the crew will be able to track him down in the support vehicle and get some dry clothes and a swag to him for the night. He’s well and truly out of any conceivable mobile coverage, if you believe the Telstra maps, which are always overly optimistic in their claims, to the point of absurdity. Even Telstra don’t claim coverage here.
TUESDAY ARVO UPDATE:
Ian left Coral Bay at 1435hrs today wi th a stretch goal of Yardie Creek.
As of 5pm he’s done 53km and Yardie Creek is still about 55km away.
The forecast for Exmouth suggests the wind will keep blowing, right past dark, so we might see the first “NightKite” session today unless he decides to stop a bit short and call it a day.
We don’t actually have an online weather monitoring station at Exmouth– only a forecast model — so no way of knowing what’s actually going on there, except that his most recent update on the GPS tracker has him travelling due N at 35.1km/hr at 1715hrs, having just rounded the cape at Cloates Hill.
Not many options for hooking up with anyone else in this part of the world so hope his crew will be able to connect with him this time.
Big thanks goes out to fellow kiter Col Walker in Coral Bay for looking after Ian last night when the crew weren’t able to join him and for loaning him his harness to complete the rest of the mission!
Will post again later if I hear from Ian or the crew by satphone this evening.
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.