On November 20th 2013, Enable Passion, a team of 6 kitesurfers set out on a journey of a lifetime – an expedition where the goal was to kitesurf over 6000km across the Atlantic Ocean.
Ike Frans (NED), Dennis Gijsbers (NED), Filippo Hubar (NED), Camilla Ringvold (NOR), Max Blom (NED), Eric Pequeno (USA)
kitesurfing in the background.
One of the major concerns on a journey like ours is safety. The crew on our support sailing boat, the catamaran Double A, had at all times a man over board – in the middle of the Atlantic – during the whole day and whole night – kitesurfing. For most sailors, this is their biggest nightmare. For us, it was a constant situation 24 hours a day. Finding safety solutions that was acceptable was absolutely crucial. There wore more than VHF´s, AIS and EPIRB´s needed for this expedition. We needed extra visibility for the night kiting.
The first challenge was the visibility – both for the kitesurfer, so that we could see where to ride, and for the Double A – the light needed to be strong enough so that the rider could be seen at night from a far distance. The second challenge was to find a light that could have a battery life for a full 12 hours and last during the whole night, so that we could minimize the operations of taking the kite up and down if the conditions wore consistent. Our third challenge was to find a light where the salt water would not ruin the light after only short time of use.
Visibility at night in up to 8 meter waves, variable wind conditions and incoming squalls seemed to be a task difficult to fulfill during our early training. We tried all kinds of lights from industrial headlights to professional outdoor lights of the best quality. All of our lights had failed on all three challenging areas.
After our first training week, we got in contact with Jo Engebrigtsen at Navisafe AS, presenting our challenges and what we wore in need of;
- Light to connect on the kite for rider visibility on the water and indicator for the Double A where the kitesurfer was at all times.
- Light to connect to riders helmet as a headlamp. To use if something was needed to be fixed on the water and/or as emergency.
- Light on the back of the riders vest for visibility to the Double A.
- Red lights to use on board the Double A during the night, without loosing night vision.
– and two days later we had a full kit of various light options to test out!
The joy and relief on our final testing days, kitesurfing and sailing from Malaga down to our starting destination Fuerteventura was great. All lights wore still working, and we had enough back-up lights to keep us visible all the way across the Atlantic Ocean. We wore ready, and started our journey on a windy November day from Fuerteventura.
Life on the Double A assumed a rhythm punctuated by two-hour increments and a simple equation: (6 x 2) x 2 = 24. Six riders trading off two-hour shifts, twice a day. And since each rider coming off a shift spent their next two hours monitoring their relief’s safety, those two-hour shifts were truly four-hour shifts. That´s one extremely demanding eight-hour work day, an unrelenting cycle of fear, excitement, exhilaration, adrenaline and fatigue.
Our gear setup on the rider consisted of :
Navi light Sport with the Double magnetic holder on the helmet. This light was only put on if needed for extra visibility for maneuvers within short distance.
On the back of our safety vest, we used the Navi light Sport with a Double magnetic holder on a 360° flashing light mode that put on when the rider left the Double A and was not put out until the rider was safely back on board again after the two hour shift on the water.
In the kite, we used the Navi light 360° 2NM Rescue on a constant 360° light mode. Not only did the light give off enough light to provide us with our own personal moonlight for visibility while kiting, but the crew on the Double A could see the light from over 800m away.
Working on board the Double A on the nightshifts, we always had the Navi light Mini easily accessible. The red LED light, didn´t mess up our night vision and was easy to use.
On December 17th, after 27 days on the open water, we reached land at Turks and Caicos Islands. We had chased the sunset for over 6000km. We had kited into the dark night, watching the sky illuminated by million stars, and the ocean illuminated by a million fluorescents. We had proved that if you never give up, anything is possible. We wore lucky to share the ocean together as a team – and together with the amazing creatures that are fortunate to call it their home.
Thank you so much, Navisafe – for being a part of our team and crossing the Atlantic Ocean with us while keeping us safe and visible. We did it!