Overcoming wind challenges

Kiting for Kids take epic journey from Parksville to Sechelt to Nanaimo as they raise funds for B.C. Children's Hospital Foundation

  • May. 16, 2013 9:00 a.m.

BRENDA GOUGH PHOTO Ken Droog of Parksville got a big hug from his twin daughters Haley and Hannah on Columbia Beach before he set out on his epic kiteboarding journey April 29.


NEWS Contributor

On a recent challenge to kiteboard from Parksville across the Georgia Straight and back, one kite was shredded, one board was lost and two kiteboarders were overpowered by Mother Nature but the team who make up Kiting For Kids has almost reached their $10,000 goal for BC Children’s Hospital.

Four local Vancouver Island men are raising money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and two of them have proved it is possible to cross the Strait.

On April 29 the winds were whipping so the four participants; Ken Droog of Parksville, Dennis McDonald of Parksville, Harold Grindl of Nanoose Bay and Allan Berry of Nanaimo launched from Columbia Beach shortly after 9 a.m.

Their destination was Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast.  Once they arrived they would turn around and head back to Pipers Lagoon in Nanaimo.

According to Droog, the epic journey got off to a rough start.

He said Berry had a kite issue right away and ended up with a tangled line.  Droog explained that the rescue boat attempted to assist Berry but ended up picking him out of the water after tearing his kite in half.  On top of that the boat had a motor issue and had to limp back in to French Creek Marina.

The other three remaining team members were out on the water and continued on with the mission but Droog observed the wind was too much for Grindl.

“He felt overpowered on his 12-meter kite and landed safely at San Pareil in Parksville.”

And then there were two.

Droog and McDonald along with the remaining chase boat chose to continue the trip across the Strait.

Droog recalled that half way across the wind was reaching 35 knots off Lasqueti Island and gusting even higher.

He said with a 10 meter and 11 meter kite on the water and big boards they were certainly overpowered but there was no turning back now.  The two landed in Davis Bay three and a half hours later.

McDonald admitted he and Droog had more confidence when the two ventured back in to the water and began the trek back across the Strait.

“The wind was certainly overpowering at times but began to cooperate a few kilometres off the shore and we knew our trip back was a shorter distance so we felt confident … we made it through the hardest stretch”.

The two touched down on the beach about 1 1/2 hours after setting out on the second leg.  The total return crossing time was just over five hours and the pair were safe on shore.

“We certainly feel we achieved our goal and are very pleased with the results for our first year,” said Grindl.

Berry added, “We will not rest until Harold and I make the return crossing.  It just may be in the cards for all four of us to attempt again soon.”

As for their honorary team member Sir Richard Branson, probably the world’s most famous kiteboarder, Droog said he hasn’t responded to the e-mails sent by the team about their mission.

Droog said it is likely because Branson was busy on April 29.  While the kiteboarders were speeding across the ocean, Branson’s commercial spaceline completed the first rocket-powered flight of its space vehicle Space Ship Two that day.  Virgin Galactic’s test flight achieved super sonic speed of Mach 1.2 much faster than the Kiting For Kids team so Droog said they understand why Branson hasn’t called.

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