250km Kite Challenge - 2014
A World Record CIRCUMNAVIGATING Bahrain
Anke Brandt from Germany set new World Endurance record in the Longest journey Kite Surfed by a female.
The 30 -year-old has been working for four years in Bahrain as Consumer Marketing Manager where she discovered her passion for kite surfing. Especially the Long -Distance- Racing is what the German girl got hooked on and she participated successfully in races with up to 50 kilometers in length in Germany at The Red Bull Coast To Coast Race.
“I always wanted to organize a Kite surf charity event fro wings for life and the same time find a challenge for myself, doing what I love. In the beginning of 2013 the idea was born: To Kite surf around Bahrain with a race board, being the first Kite surfer to do so.”
She planned to Kite surf anticlockwise around Bahrain starting in the north-east of Bahrain at Amwaj Islands. The route should take her cross wind past Muharraq, Financial Harbour and around Budayia. From here it would take her downwind around a reef approaching the Saudi Causeway, the connecting bridge between Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also being the first test of the journey: “The Saudi Causeway is just high enough to fly the kite underneath and there is not a lot of room for error! There are also strong currents and the wind turbulence underneath the bridge are hard to predict.” Then the journey will continue downwind until she reaches the south tip of Bahrain. After covering – km and h the route would then go upwind towards Sitra and back to Amwaj crossing a natural Barrier a huge coral reef “I could only pass the reef through a narrow channel, otherwise I would risk getting my 40 -inch-long fins stuck. At the same time I have to pay attention to other boats which are using the channel, and the large factories in the area can create a lot of wind turbulences which makes it hard to control the kite.”
“The direct line around Bahrain is 165km but through tacking and jibing the distance was expected to come up to around 200km and more. During the planning phase I then realized that the longest Kitesurf journey was 213km and it was actually possible for me to beat that. From then on my goal was to reach 250Km.”
To achieve this ambitious goal, she has completed a huge amount of exercise. Her workout sum up at least 15 hours a week and was a mix of yoga, strength training, running, and kitesurfing to get the necessary strength and stamina for the 250 -kilometer route.
Anke Brandt and her team started on a sunny morning and blue skies at 06:08 local time at Amwaj islands.
"At 05:30 local time on 1st March everyone met at the kite beach at Amwaj Island along with photographers and friends. It was so nice to see all my friends get up early to wave me good bye. I was happy that we were finally ready to go, everything felt good and I would say I wasn’t even nervous.
Accompanied by my 5 men strong crew of Shayne, Juergen, Fanie, Elie and Mohanna in a 30ft boat we started this record attempt at 06:08am on a sunny morning and blue skies.
The wind was straight northerly on the day, quite unusual for Bahrain. Even thought I had been under the bridge before in a training run, the different wind direction and strong tidal movement made it a new game. I had to get the angle right in order not to get stuck in between the bridge pillars. That could end up nasty. This time my kite also touched the underside of the bridge right at the only steal barrier and I was worried it would have punctured the Kite. I was lucky it all went well.
With an average speed of 30 km/h I went downwind over the waves and many reefs that appeared everywhere near the west coast. We all got surprised when the wind suddenly picked up on the southern tip of Bahrain. We had to change from a 15m kite to a 9m kite quite a challenge in the middle of the sea on a small boat to get the new kite ready. It was very lucky that the team found a Sandbank which helped a lot! This is the loop everyone could see on GPSKitetracker.com.
The biggest obstacle on the east side of Bahrain was then the strong current, the debris and sea grass. It was a very slow process, the average speed dropped to 20 km/h, my legs where tired and it felt like I would not make any ground at all. On top the GPS watch ran out of battery on the southern tip and we had no time to change the batter of my phone again for the live tracking. The last tracker I could possibly rely on was in my wetsuit and I had no idea if it was actually still running. When the sun was approaching the horizon it occurred to me that I may not make it all the way around and I may not even have any proof of the actual distance I kited, quite a low point after 8h on the water.
But my team on the boat was amazing. They constantly provided me with food that was sent to me on a giant inflatable or I picked it up from the nose of the boat. They cheered me up and motivated me all the way along even though it must have been very tiring for them too fighting the wind and waves in the boat. This definitely gave me the necessary energy and I realized this especially during the time when we go separated during the time when they got the Kite ready and also along the east coast where a big reef separated me from the boat for almost 1h both moments I was alone for a while.
The team was also brilliant when I noted that the kite was flying strangely approximately 9h into the journey and I suspected a leak in my bladder somewhere. I landed the Kite close to the boat for them to double check. They confirmed that the Kite must have lost air and managed to pump the kite up on the boat while I was still attached to it and launched safely again. This was a massive team effort given the facts of the very strong currents, waves and winds moving us all over the place while being surrounded by reefs, assuring the lines would not tangle in the boat and the need of continuously filming the effort. Every hand was needed and every one performed perfectly even after such a long time on the water.
The trip went on and after many hours and an encounter with 5 ducks where one actually went down when it flew accidentally into one of my lines (but don’t worry it was fine and got away ;), I finally saw the skyline of Manama! That brought a huge smile to my face. I knew I wouldn’t make it all around the island but I knew I went quite a way! This was a very cool feeling.
Just after Sunset, I gave the team the sign to land the Kite before it was completely dark. That was when the team revealed to me that I was only 4km away from the 250km goal. I could not believe the live tracking was still working, the only way the team could have known my distance, this was such a boost of motivation that the last 4kms where just fun!
At 18:02 local time exhausted, but buzzing I climbed in the boat just before Al Dar Island and archived my goal of Kite surfing continuously for 250km.
To be officially rewarded, I had to submit a long list of evidence. Part of the evidence was an accurate professional GPS reading, Photographs, a Log Book and Cover letter as well as witness reports from independent witnesses from all around the island and from two independent witnesses present at all times. The most challenging evidence however was to produce continuous video footage of the entire attempt.
Without the help and support of my team and the trust of my sponsors Mini, BMMI and Mystic Kite boarding, this attempt would have not been possible. I would like to thank each and every one of them for being part of this amazing journey! The fundraising page for ‘Wings for life’ is still open and if you would like to support a great charity and be part of this achievement, you can still support us with a small donation for this project at : www.justgiving.com/Kitebeyond.”