Bombs away for high flying kiteboarders

By John Cousins


While most people battened down the hatches for the arrival of Saturday's big blow, Tauranga's elite kiteboarders just got excited.

Winds blasting down the harbour, gusting to 100km/h, were an irresistible attraction to the Bay's most experienced kiteboarders including instructor Jesse Tuck and the man ranked third in the world for the sport, Marc Jacobs.

The two athletes turned on a dazzling display of their skills to a battery of cameramen eager to record how the two men would respond to the challenge of winds that less experienced kiteboarders dared not tackle.

"I just get excited when I hear weather bombs are coming," Tuck said.

He found the conditions off Fergusson Park on Saturday exhilarating, declaring that he "absolutely loved it".

"This is our playtime," he said after repeated sweeps across the harbour which included frequent aerial jumps and mega loops - jokingly referred to as Mary Poppins movements.

The conditions were too wild for lessons and even kiteboarders with several years' experience were wise enough to stay off the windswept harbour where peak gusts were 20km/h stronger than the 80km/h experienced at Tauranga Airport.

Tuck, of Wind & Sea Kiteboarding, said things could go very wrong very quickly in conditions like Saturday's for those without the right gear and enough experience.

He estimated there were only six to 10 kiteboarders in Tauranga with the skills to safely tackle Saturday's extreme weather conditions.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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