Posts Tagged ‘kite surfing’


Natalia with the kite at “midday”

Yesterday off we finally went to a beach near Cumbuco, just outside of Fortaleza, with our instructor Luciano Cordeiro from 30 Knots, the school we are working with in this project. Fantastic experience!

Getting there took a little while – Luciano arrived at just before 11am – he had on the preceding day say 9am, but apparently the winds were pretty poor in the morning so when we called him, he gave us a new time. At first we were a little suspicious as Ceará state, as is pretty much the entire northeast of Brazil, has a quite a reputation for the laid back attitudes to punctuality, but when we got the beach an hour later, it seemed that we were the only second group on the beach for the day.

Ben with the kite at 9 o'clock, under the watchful eyes of Luciano our instructor

Ben with the kite at 9 o’clock, under the watchful eyes of Luciano our instructor

Luciano was very methodical and straightforward – starting from the beginning, the way I guess you should: unravelling the kite and the strings, pumping up the kite, and then tieing the knots from the trapezium to the kite, and then the basic positions of the kite… from “midday”, with the kite directly above us and the wind coming from behind us; 9 o’clock, with the kite off to the left side, and 3 o’clock over to the right. We just stayed on the beach by a lagoon practicing the control of the kite in these positions, rather than going on to a board where we would have the extra concern of staying afloat. For me the easiest part was at “midday” when there was very little pull from the kite, as off on the sides, I felt it easier to move out of the right position and the pull on my body increase. Moreover, for a big kite (12 metres), it was amazingly sensitive to any adjustments from the hands.

The time we had playing around with the stunt kite was actually pretty helpful, with the principles behind the wind dynamics being very similar – when the kite was in the three positions, there was relatively little pull from it, though any forced movement from our part and we instantly felt ourselves being pulled along. This went against our natural tendencies as when we felt like we were losing a bit of control, we had to ease off on our pressure on the kite bar, rather than trying to grip it and force it back under control. This would just make matters worse, and Natalia felt the consequences of that, when she was pulled from the beach and into the water. Fortunately it was okay and when she let go of the kite, she soon came to a halt without having any damage. Quite funny to watch and unfortunately I didn’t have the camera out at the time!

The three hours sped by all too quickly, and I think we did a decent job for our first time, so here’s looking forward to the next lessons!


Beira Mar small

Walking along Beira Mara, Fortaleza… somethings never change…

Back up to the northeast of Brazil, in the city of Fortaleza. Definitely nice being back – lots of good memories from here, and difficult not to feel a bit nostalgic. We have been staying with Natalia’s cousin, Jeane. When Natalia was younger, she lived with Jeane for a year or so and I guess it has been a good 15 years or so since they saw each other. So lots of catching up there.

We got here at 3am, but decided to stay at the airport until around 8am as didn’t want to wake Jeane and her family up… slightly too early for that, but not worth getting a hotel. The hours went by extremely slowly, especially with the airport television system playing the same clips over and over and over and over again, and no comfortable places to lie down. At least we managed to break my brother-in-law’s record on the Magic Alchemist (thank goodness for the iPad!), though, so something good came out of it! At 8am, we popped over to 30knot’s Wakeboard Park  and registered for our Kite Surf lessons, and then headed over to Jeane’s…

Since meeting up with Jeane, and getting introduced, not much has happened. Have been feeling pretty tired, though last night we went for a walk along Beira Mar – one of the main tourist avenues along the city beach front. A few changes with the addition of a “Japanese Garden”, a small Japanese-style park, though much of it all remains the same as I remembered, with a huge artisanal market along the beach. Nice ice creams as well!

Today we will have our first kite surfing lesson. The guy said yesterday that we would head off at 9am, though we called him a bit ago and he said “because of the winds” we won’t be heading off until 11am. Not sure how much this is due to the winds or to the slightly laid back way of Ceará state life… but still, hopefully we will be on our way in an hour or so. It will just mean that we will be surfing under the midday sun, which is pretty hot up here just three degrees below the equator…

Photo: Rsrsrsrs!!!!

A long way to go to the 13 million score of the global first place… but on our way… who knows, with another 5 hours at an airport, we might get it a little better…!


Posted: June 1, 2013 by Ben Weber in Training
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At airport at 4am…. Easier staying here than going to hotel… Not much company around though!


It has been a difficult few weeks for me in terms of aches and pains. The first problem occurred about a month or so ago – I was going for a 15km run at a gentle pace and felt a pain in my calf muscle. I kept running, thinking it was cramp and that I could run it off. Big mistake as it turned into out to be a partial tear of the muscle, which ruled me out of a 6km race I had entered into. I’m no doctor, but the pain felt pretty much like it was in the location in the image – after the tear, it felt like there was a bit of a lump and redness there, I guess because of slight internal bleeding from the injury. The problem was exacerbated when, after the pain had died down a bit, I tried going for a run again and pushed myself a bit to far too soon… It can be very frustrating not being able to exercise properly.

Fortunately the muscle recovered in time for the last half marathon in Rio, but it is still a good reminder about how we need to be careful with our bodies and pushing ourselves too much too soon. After the half marathon almost two weeks ago now, my leg muscles were naturally tired, though just tired rather than any aggravated injury… the problem this time, however, being in my left foot which has been painful to walk on since the race, with the pain on the outside. It felt like a pain in the bone rather than any muscles. It seems completely better now, which is nice, so will need to see how it goes – not sure how/why it happened: the running shoes I wore were the same as the previous race (and gave no problems) and in which I have been training, and this is the first time such an injury has occurred.

Back to the gym this last week, but definitely no impact sports like running while the foot is like this. From tonight  we will be in the water for a week on the tropical beaches of Fortaleza, kite surfing so that should also be good as well as definitely not much impact in that! Swimming in the sea should be good as well for general fitness (so nope, not really a holiday though the location will be great!).

For the kite surfing, though the nice tropical beaches and hot weather will be an added bonus! I lived for a year or so in the city back in 2000, though I hear much has changed in that it has got ever larger. Will be great to be back and catch up with some old friends and definitely looking forward to the coming week. The city isn’t the most beautiful in the world in terms of architecture etc, and it does have its problems – harsh inequalities, crime, and it is not safe to be out away from the tourist places at night. However, it is an enjoyable place to be, and I do miss the ocean breeze, its accessibility and walking along the Beira Mar promenade. Will certainly be the warmest training project (and arguably the most fun…. but then again, every project we have done so far has been challenging and the rewards of managing to complete them have certainly outweighed any “suffering” we have had to endure in the process!!). But yes, flight at 11:30pm on Friday night and back in São Paulo next Sunday. Here we go!

Dare you to walk over to that ridge...

It has been a good year and a half since we officially started working to this project; a good couple of years or more since we came up with the ideas. A lot of things have happened and a lot of things will still be done. It goes without saying that without  sponsorship, the more ambitious parts of the projects, the Poles, will simply not be possible – the whole logistics of these parts would be prohibitively expensive. But, in cutting down our daily expenses on little luxuries; spending less money going to restaurants, more time training and building the project, we have been able to do a lot more than we ever could have imagined that we would do prior to committing ourselves to this, and we still will be able to do a lot more.

Riding through the snowWorse case scenario and it doesn’t work out (yes it’s a worry!), we still will have opened up a completely new world of adventure and sports that we wouldn’t have done otherwise. If we hadn’t committed ourselves to this… goodness knows what we would be doing, but am pretty sure that we would not have gone mountaineering in Bolivia, and am pretty certain we would not have ridden from Land’s End to John O’Groats in winter. We probably wouldn’t be going to the gym and be in anywhere as near as good health as we are today, and I doubt that we would be entering into the various races we are going into now. We probably would be just working away, content but not happy with everything, in a standard city life somewhere, wondering what wasn’t quite right.

But fortunately we did come up with this whole mad-cap crazy project, and the world that has been opened to us is incredible. So much to do! Kite surfing (training for the polar training) in June… (hopefully) a two-week adventure race in Chile in February 2014, to be swiftly followed by our polar training at Baffin Island for a few weeks in February-March 2014… followed by either another mountaineering expedition or a traverse of the Greenland ice-cap (something that no Brazilian woman has ever done, as far as I have seen, so Natalia will be the first!)… exciting stuff! And then off… in August 2014.

The question is, do we wait a year longer if we can’t get sponsorship, or just go anyway on a round-the-world bike ride…? that is a good question and one that I do not yet know how to answer.

Kite surfers

Kite Surfing?

Yup! This will be our next main training project (while we keep up the cycling and the general fitness as well as our own individual challenges…) and one am particularly looking forward to as it will probably be the most fun. But why Kite Surfing? Will we going kite surfing during the actual expedition..?

A very simplified map of how the winds in Antarctica work - plenty out there more comprehensive than this! But basically, until the South Pole, we will be going into the wind, though after it, it will be in our favour...

A very simplified map of how the winds in Antarctica work – plenty out there more comprehensive than this! But basically, until the South Pole, we will be going into the wind, though after it, it will be in our favour…

Well when we are on Antarctica, when the winds are in our favour (mainly, most likely, when we leave the Pole towards McMurdo as the Katabatic winds blow off from the Antarctic plateau down and towards the coast) we will be going by kite-ski. This form of power helps… a lot – when skiing we will be going and hauling our 120kg pulks around 15km or so per day, if things are good. Kite-skiing will allow us to travel around ten times this speed, and so make it possible to cross the continent before the winter closes in.  When we are in northern Canada this coming February, we will be practicing kite ski, and we hope to embark on a smaller expedition of 600km across the Greenland Icecap from west-to-east next May; an expedition that will take a month or so, and which we will do plenty of kite-skiing.

Here in Brazil as you can imagine it is difficult to find places to ski… okay, not difficult: impossible. We would have to go to Bariloche in Argentina to be able to enjoy such opportunities. However, the principals behind kite surfing, in terms of using the wind and maintaining your balance, are similar to kite ski: using the wind is everything. They also say that kite-surfing is harder because it is harder to maintain your balance on water as opposed to snow and ice, which is what it would be like in the Antarctic. So the more practice we get with it better and will hopefully make our lives much easier when we are a) in the training at Baffin Island; b) the Greenland traverse and c) for the full expedition.

So yes, at the beginning of June, we will be going up to Fortaleza, with the glorious sunshine and waves of Fortaleza, to open a new chapter of our training for this whole project. Should be fun!

Kite surfing

I had the pleasure of meeting with Amyr Klink the other day. For those who don’t know, Amyr is a Brazilian explorer and sailer who has gone on fantastic expeditions around the world by sea, has sailed around the Antarctic, and from the Antarctic to the Arctic – to name just a few of his projects – and has also worked in building his own vessels.

A friend at the Ministry of Culture suggested I should speak with him, so I had contacted his office a few weeks ago. To my surprise, a week ago before I went to New York, I got a call from him. Initially, to my embarrassment, I didn’t realise who it was – I was at my office and was in a bit of a world of my own. After a couple of minutes, it clicked and we chatted for a good half hour about the project and arranged to meet when I got back.

And so it was. When I got to his office, we had a coffee and talked for about an hour and a half – he talked about the yachts he had built and showed photos from the construction and his expeditions to the Antarctic, and also talked about the problems that he had faced on his journeys such as sailing between ice flows without getting the yacht crushed. We talked about the challenges that we would be facing en-route – our question about how exactly do we get to the Antarctic was one of the first things we discussed.

This question became apparent after our chat with Andrew Dare – basically because of the seasonal windows for expeditions to the South Pole. Airplane is the last option we want to consider because of the environmental issues and it just isn’t really authentic exploration. So this leaves yacht or boat to arrive on the continent. The problem with this is that the ice around the continent only breaks up enough to allow us to land near a base in the middle of expedition season – so we would not be able to cross the Pole in one season. We would need at least two seasons, and to stay at a base on the continent for around six months or so as the freezing winter passes over us. Originally this struck us as not really an option, though the more we think about this, the more it seems like a promising idea. We would just be stuck with each other’s company for six months in the same place, which could be… interesting… and the whole project will take about four years to complete as opposed to three and a bit!

Among the other subjects we discussed included the idea of kite surfing. He described the experience of other explorers with kit surfing contraptions where they have slept in the capsule and been able to carry their supplies with them. Then there is the design to think about, with two/three skis protruding for stability; the materials to use… everything we need to think about as this will need to be custom-built for us…

And finally he suggested some interesting contacts that will hopefully be able to help us further with the expedition.  So hopefully things will be moving further forward from here!