// March 24th, 2010 // Comments Off // Uncategorized
Does a tree make noise when it falls in the forest even if no one is around to hear it? Sunday, March 21st marked the second time Lake Pontchartrain in New Orleans was conquered by a fundraiser with a mission to create awareness, successfully kiteboard across twenty-four miles of open water, and raise $10,000 for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The media may have not been there to cover the moment this kiteboarding crossing finalized, however, the tree did fall and it made a thunderous roar.
The weekend of March 20th – 21st marked the 2010 New Orleans Leukemia Cup Regatta. Sunday, March 21st, without a doubt by all weather reports leading up to this day, was going to provide a terrific kiteboarding crossing. The weekend weather report called for a low pressure system to move into the Gulf of Mexico Saturday night with winds climbing to 15 – 20 knots from the southwest with gusts reaching gale force at 35 knots. The cold front arrived as forecasted and Sunday morning, the team awoke to temperatures hovering in the low forties with a wind chill in the mid-thirties. The winds came out of the west at 15 – 25 knots, with gusts still approaching gale force.
Judson Wheeler, chase boat driver, looked out over Lake Pontchartrain from the south shore and commented, “Look at those white caps, I don’t know Chris.” Moments later, Judson and Steve Acheson climbed aboard a twenty-foot center console provided by Southern Yacht Club (SYC) to make their way out into the lake for a test run. Minute’s later, back on the dock, Judson proclaims, “We’re going, and we’ll see you on the north shore.” Judson and Steve departed the safety of the harbor at 8:40am to tackle twenty-four miles of open water in waves four to six feet high.
Meanwhile, the kiteboarders rally on the north shore; Shayne Green, Alex Potts, and Chris Stuckey. From the beach front on the north shore, the wind is blowing west-southwest. Wheeler and Acheson arrive around 10am grinning and wet. As the chase boat crew relaxes in the warmth of Lake Pontchartrain Yacht Club, the kiteboarders rig up. Both Green and Potts rig up 14m kites while Stuckey rigs a 7m. Shayne is the first to be launched and walks out into the water to wait, followed by Potts. Last to be launched, Stuckey takes to the water with boots and no fins. Underpowered, he makes several tacks and then jumps the breakwater wall that protects the entrance of the harbor. Stuckey downs his kite over the beach on the other side of the canal.
Moments later, Stuckey is back in the water on a 10m and jibbing towards the southeast followed by Green who had been waiting patiently. Potts, on the other hand was in a different predicament. Overpowered, Potts unable to keep his edge, he downed his rig on the same beach section that Stuckey had moments earlier been on. At a little past noon; Stuckey and Green followed by the chase boat, make their way south to Southern Yacht Club.
Tackling choppy conditions in four to six foot waves in short intervals and a shifting wind from the west, Green begins to fall behind Stuckey six to eight miles into the journey. Green later exclaims, “I lost my mark and didn’t realize my position.” As Stuckey holds his reach and shoots south, Green is exponentially falling behind and approximately 4 to five miles to the east downwind. Off his mark, the chase boat retrieves Shayne and this crossing was over. One kiteboarder left in the crossing, rough conditions ahead and a gusty west wind, Stuckey slowly works his way even more south.
After three hours of being in the water tackling conditions that cancelled two regattas earlier in the day, including the Leukemia Cup Regatta. Stuckey arrives at New Canal, the entrance to the harbor of Southern Yacht Club. Downing his kite in the wind shadow of the harbor entrance, Stuckey self-rescued as the chase boat arrived to retrieve him.