Greg Innes joined a group of kitesurfers who rode the wind and waves fromGordon's Beach to Cook Street in Victoria.

‘Hairy’ waters for locals kitesurfing to Victoria

Kitesurfers ride the waves from Gordon's Beach to Victoria

Special to the Sooke News Mirror

As we approached Race Rocks on the edge of the shipping lane on nothing more than surfboards and kites overhead, I was wondering what in the world we were thinking when we planned this journey.

The fog bank in the distance seemed to be getting closer and I was already too cold with my hands going numb. I was in the lead and was catching hell from the support boat who said I was splitting up the group by going too fast.

The problem was I couldn’t slow down. I was surfing over the standing current waves that were four feet high and trying to handle sustained winds of 35 knots in my kite.

I was definitely over-powered and out of my comfort zone. I should have rigged a five-square metre kite and wore my dry suit with thermal layers, not an eight m with a 5/4 wetsuit. Putting foot straps on the surfboard board would have helped as well.

 

Gordon’s Beach has been a favourite kitesurfing spot for a decade. A few of us locals are lucky enough to live here, and the rest of the kite surfers and windsurfers drive out from Victoria and from up-Island when the wind is forecasted.

A Victoria kiter named Luke hatched the plan to sail a “Downwinder” from Gordon’s Beach to Cook Street in Victoria. He is a member of the Royal Victoria Yacht Club so he arranged for a support Zodiac rescue boat. He posted a thread on the sailor’s internet forecast forum BigWaveDave.ca and had eight adventurous kiters sign up, three of whom were from Sooke. Martin, John, and myself.

 

We gathered at Orveas Bay and had a quick safety meeting before the launch. We all chose appropriate boards, kite sails and foul weather gear, thinking of all possible situations we might find ourselves in, including a destroyed kite and floating out in the strait waiting for a rescue.

Once underway we could barely fly our kites out past a low-wind bubble on our way out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. As we were approaching one kilometre offshore, the wind was building and wind swell rising. The wind was perfect here for the kites we had rigged and we tacked back and forth high-fiving each other as we passed on opposite tacks. We manouvered our kites so they didn’t crash into each other. There were waves to ride in every direction, we just had to keep our pack of riders together for safety.

Usually our sailing sessions were made of mostly tacking upwind to maintain our ground as sailboats do, but this time we were able to play on a 45 km downwind run, and continually surf the large swell way out in the straight.

We passed the Sooke Basin and then East Sooke, where we found the best swell of the journey. Slashing down nearly vertical wave faces at times and gybing through the foam in the trough. This was a peak experience moment for our kite-surfing careers for sure. So knarly dude!

However, the wind speed kept increasing and I found I was pulling my depower sheet line and flying my kite more and more overhead, both techniques we use to dump excess wind. The conditions were starting to get hairy and we were all glancing at each other looking for inspiration to continue, even though we had no choice but to keep going.

 

The black and white Racerocks Lighthouse approached quickly as the wind kept increasing. We were almost two hours into the journey and feeling fatigued and cold. This felt like a place where people were not welcomed by Mother Nature, similar to a high alpine peak where you quickly summit and then get down.

It was exhilarating but we were slightly freaked out by the high wind, high waves and currents. Only an isolated barren rocky island nearby.

Once we rounded the corner at the green buoy and sailed another kilometer past the peak wind we were on the home stretch toward Victoria.

There were sighs of relief we surfed down some fantastic waves over the underwater bank where it felt like we were riding moguls in a kitesurfing theme park.

At this point we felt very safe and it became a bit of a race and we slashed, jumped and gybed our way to the Cook Street launch.

 

After landing our kites at the beach and squeezing out of our wet gear, we told our fresh high-seas stories in our exhilarated state. We were off to a celebratory dinner where we inhaled every burger that was put in front of us.

 

Greg Innes is a kitesurfing instructor and lives at Gordon’s Beach.

 

Just Posted

Number of SD62 kindergarten registrations about same as last year

Approximately 850 kindergarten registrations for 2019/2020 school year

VicPD faces ‘significant pressure’ following Victoria’s 2019 budget decision

Chief Const. Del Manak says council continues to micromanage his department

Work set to begin on removing Sooke’s derelict boats from waterways

Seven boats earmarked to be removed this spring

28 years later: Dunahee disappearance remains largest investigation in Victoria police history

The four-year old Victoria boy went missing without a trace on March 24, 1991

Protective human chain forms around Victoria mosque for Friday prayer

Islanders stand arm-in-arm to show support in aftermath of New Zealand shootings

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Vancouver Island motorists attempted CPR on victim in fatal Highway 4 crash

Collision took place west of Whiskey Creek; man in his 70s died

WestJet sticking with Boeing 737 Max once planes certified to fly

WestJet had expected to add two more of the planes this year to increase its fleet to 13

B.C. driver caught going 207 km/h on motorcycle along Okanagan Highway

A motorcyclist was caught by Kelowna RCMP going 207 km/h on Highway 97C

Motorcyclist dies after three-vehicle crash on old Island Highway

Accident happened at 12:15 p.m. Friday near Country Club Centre in Nanaimo

SOOKE HISTORY: Grandma Sue shared First Nations’ traditions with visitors

Elida Peers | Contributed We have had a number of books published… Continue reading

B.C. fire department offers tips to keep your home safe during wildfire season

With wildfire season getting closer, the Penticton Fire Dept. offer tips to keep your home safe

Fierce house cat spotted as ‘aggressor’ in face off with coyote in B.C. backyard

North Vancouver resident Norm Lee captures orange cat versus coyote in backyard showdown

Most Read