Kiteboarder Rides Powerful Winds During Hurricane Sandy
*UPDATE: I heard from kiteboarder Damien LeRoy via Facebook on Tuesday at 11 Eastern. He included more details about the video, which features kiteboarder Rob Douglas, and the safety precautions taken by his team. I have included those details below. You can also click to watch this Headline News video in which LeRoy talks about the event. Or watch the same video below.
It's hard to view a video of a kiteboarder zipping along in the winds kicked up by a hurricane without thinking of that horrible clip from Florida of a man who was picked up and thrown into a concrete wall during Tropical Storm Fay. Even with videos documenting such violent injuries, and warnings from numerous agencies about the need to exercise caution before violent storms, people will continue to see hurricanes and tropical storms as an opportunity for adventure. The above video appears to be just the latest example.
As people will likely point out in the comments below, athletes who head out into dangerous storm conditions don't just put themselves at risk. If something bad happens, they will further burden already taxed rescue and medical personal.
There are a lot of things that are still unclear about this kiteboarding video that was uploaded to YouTube on October 29. What's clear is that it features a shot early on of the 2011 Kitesurfing athlete of the year Damien LeRoy standing on a flooded road and then a kiteboarder zipping in high winds at very fast speeds. LeRoy's name appears in the upper right-hand corner and the text underneath the video says it was filmed off Martha's Vineyard, but it's hard to tell whether or not he's the athlete on the board. LeRoy has been in the waters off Massachusetts competing in the 2012 North American Speed Sailing Championships, which had competition suspended due to the storm.
LeRoy did post an Instagram shot of himself on Monday in stormy conditions with a quick message on Twitter. "Hurricane Sandy is here! Racing is on hold today as roads are closed. Still sitting in second! Damo. @gopro http://instagr.am/p/RX8XokMX49/"
*From Damien LeRoy:
I am sorry there was no information up on my website or reply from myself, as our power went out for a day because of Sandy!
The speed sailors here competing in this prestigious speed sailing event want to send our prayers to all those who have been effected by this big storm.
Rob Douglas, a 2 time world record holder, Outright Worlds Fastest Sailor, and world champion has trained and competed in windier conditions than those filmed yesterday. He is currently preparing for a new world record attempt this fall in France where winds can blow in excess of 60 knots.
We had a crew of professionals on hand launching and landing Rob with more than 39 years of sailing experience. The safety support team involved myself (World Champion, Kitesurfing Athlete of the Year) and Alex Aguera, a legendary Waterman from the north shore of Hawaii with over 20 years of experience in extreme conditions.
The difference between our video and the sad incident during Hurricane Fay is we are paid professionals. We are mentally and physically prepared, our equipment has been tested and designed for these exact conditions and we know our limits.
We take all precautions!
Thank you for your time,
For more on the consequences of Hurricane Sandy, which has left millions without power and at least 11 dead on the East Coast, read "Northeast Awakes to Huge Damage in Storm’s Path; Millions Without Power" in The New York Times.