CORNWALL’S ANDREYA WHARRY SETS A NEW WORLD RECORD FOR THE LONGEST KITESURF PASSAGE BY A WOMAN IN THE CROSSING, A 70 MILE PASSAGE FROM THE ISLES OF SCILLY TO THE EXTREME ACADEMY, WATERGATE BAY, CORNWALL.
World no.9 Andreya Wharry sailed into the record books yesterday by making the longest ever kitesurf passage by a woman. Dreya, 32, from Mawgan Porth in Cornwall, made the record-breaking 70 mile journey from Tresco on the Isles of Scilly to the Extreme Academy at Watergate Bay, Cornwall, in a time of six and a half hours.
The Crossing brought together seven of the world’s best kitesurfers. Wharry, a former Gladiators champion and mastermind of the attempt, was ecstatic to be the first to make it to the mainland, with current world champion Cindy Mosey (New Zealand), and world no.10 Claire Bunton (UK) following just minutes behind.
“I can’t believe we pulled it off, I’m really amazed!”, said Dreya. “There were moments all the way through where things went wrong and you think it’s not going to happen, but it couldn’t have worked out better in the end.”
In what proved to be an extremely gruelling challenge, the anticipated problems of fatigue and cold were exacerbated by erratic wind conditions. With a six-day window to wait for the best weather conditions, the decision was made to attempt the crossing yesterday, setting out ahead of an intensifying low-pressure system forecast to move in from the Atlantic bringing increasingly stormy seas and strengthening winds for the weekend.
The attempt began at 11.30am, leaving from the island of Tresco. CJ Jones (Australia) was the first to drop out with equipment problems which made it impossible for her to navigate through the narrow channels between the islands. She joined one of the three safety boats which accompanied the girls for the 70-mile journey.
Conditions offshore from the islands were near-perfect, with a 15 knot southerly wind allowing the girls to achieve speeds of up to 20 knots, reaching Lands End by 2.00pm. There followed a dream run up the North Cornish coast until 56 miles into the attempt, disaster struck as they encountered a pocket of totally calm conditions.
With no wind at all only two of the girls, Wharry and Mosey, were able to keep their kites flying until the breeze returned. Claire Bunton and former world no.2 Laurel Eastman (USA) were able to relaunch their kites from the water and continue, but world no.6 Fiona Wedenig (Switzerland) was unable to do the same and reluctantly retired.
Suzi Gilbert, 35, from St Austell in Cornwall, was also forced to retire when her kite ripped on one of the safety boats as she attempted to relaunch.
“We were literally home and dry, we were doing so well,” said Gilbert, who was devastated to have to end her challenge so close to the finish. “I was feeling really good, really strong, and then we hit this horrendous wind pocket – there was no wind, literally nothing at all. The kites were barely flying, we couldn’t move, we were just sat down in the water, and my kite came down. When they tried to relaunch my kite and it ripped I was just gutted.”
As the wind returned, the remaining four made good progress, averaging a speed of 20 knots as they rounded Towan Head, Newquay, to gain their first sight of their final destination at Watergate Bay. There followed a tortuously slow approach into the wind, as the girls were forced to tack upwind for almost an hour as the wind strengthened in a less than ideal direction.
It proved too much for Laurel Eastman, who elected to come in to shore on board a jetski when her kite went down and exhaustion hit.
“I was too far out, the wind was offshore, and I had too much power in the kite,” said Eastman, relieved to be back on the sand. “I had a huge 16.5 metre kite and I was just edging, edging the whole time and pushing, you’re just so tired by the end. It would be easier if you were going downwind, and I thought it would be more fun to come back and hang out on the beach than be pushing all the time!”
Minutes later, Andreya Wharry was the first to make it to the beach, setting an inuagural world record right at the northern end of Watergate Bay.
“I’m very, very shattered!”, said Dreya, trembling with a mixture of cold and adrenalin. “I came in and I was right on the edge of the wind, and the wind when you come in on this direction is really flakey, and my kite wouldn’t fly. I saw one of the instructors from the surf school who was surfing down at the end of the beach and he came in and grabbed my kite – I’ve never been so relieved to see anybody because I thought I was going to hit the rocks at one stage.”
“We’ve been out there six and a half hours, and it wasn’t the cold or the back of the knees and those things I thought would be hardest, it was being able to see home for about an hour and not be able to get there that was awful, I thought I’d have to come in on the jetbike! But Cindy kept slogging on and I thought if Cindy’s slogging, I will too, and we did it! Fantastic!”
The grils will be celebrating their new record at The Crossing party and charity auction dinner, from 7.00pm on Tuesday 1st June at The Beach Hut Bar & Bistro, Watergate Bay. Don’t forget tickets are still available for the three-course dinner upstairs at the Beach Hut Bistro. The £25 ticket includes a donation to the two charities benefiting from The Crossing: the Royal National Lifeboat Institution and the Silke Gorldt Foundation. Those just wishing to join the party can do so from 8.30pm – tickets are £10 and include three cocktails and a donation to the charities.
The Silke Gorldt Foundation is an international charity set up in memory of German Silke Gorldt, who died in a kitesurfing accident in June 2002 when she was ranked second in the world. The Foundation run camps educating children about how to kitesurf safely, also providing financial help for people who have suffered kitesurfing accidents. The Royal National Lifeboat Institution also plays a very significant role in kitesurfing safety here in the UK, and are the other main beneficiary of this event.
To reserve your tickets contact the Extreme Academy on 01637 860840 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.