Location & date: From Biograd to Bol Brač with no rescue boat, June 2013
Duration: Very long 5 hours 3 minutes
Distance: 153 km of choppy water and gusty wind
Equipment: Kite race board & 16m kite which was always too small or too big
Problems on the way: A lot of them – no food, no water, no energy.
Status: Young, stupid & lucky 🙂
The idea of crossing a part of the Jadran sea from Biograd to Bol (Brač) has been in my head for a few years already, but because of unreasonable conditions and many technical problems, the idea never seemed possible. That was until race discipline got my interest. The fact is that with this equipment, it was possible to do something that no one has ever done. Kitesurfing race equipment has been, throughout recent years, a progress in development. A progress that, in the end, made the venture possible. For this adventure I used a race board with a 16 m2 kite, which was most of the time, during my trip, either too big or too small. 🙂
The original idea was to start from Biograd to Brač before noon, Kitelife team being on a sailboat and me on a kite. The plan was to ride half of the trip together, wich would allow me to get the feeling for conditions on the open sea, how the race equipment works and, if necessary, for helping me if needed. Everything would have been good if the problems didn’t start even before we actually went on the trip. Most of the team fell asleep and in a hurry we forgot some of the equipment at home, so we had to go back. On top of it all , before Zagreb we ended up in a traffic jam. That is how the beginning of crossing of the Jadran sea went. With a big question mark.
When we arrived in Biograd and got onto a sailboat it was 2 p.m., which meant that my plan had failed. It was very disappointing, but then something came to my mind. I could start from Biograd alone and the sailboat will just come after me. In that moment it seemed like a briliant idea. It was not well thought and definitely not planned, but there was no time for thinking and planning, so I decided that I would go without the support team.
When I was leaving Biograd, I had a lot of mixed feelings. Some kind of mixture between adrenaline and fear from the unknown. I never sailed or kited in that area before. I did not really know the path, I did not know where I have to go and in which direction. The best advice I had received was from our skipper Mare. He said that I should ride past the islands and then go straight downwind, also that I should watch out, so I do not get to the wrong place- the island Vis. Because of the lack of time(the mistral only blows until 7 o’clock P.M.) I wanted to be fast. To be as fast as possible I had to have the minimum amount of equipment. So my survival kit contained two bottles of water, stuffed into neoprene, two Corny bars in my pocket and an iPhone. In a hurry, I forgot about the signal flares, life jacket, GPS and everything else that, if something went wrong, could have been very useful, .
As I was moving farther from Biograd I started thinking. Is this venture even possible? Is this too much, being it my first time going on trip like this, with no experience and alone? I am not the type of person to give up so easily, so I said to myself: ”Let’s go… all or nothing!”. And so, my adventure began.
The first hour of kitesurfing, everything went as planned. The wind was blowing with the speed of 20 knots. I had some minor trouble with crossing the islands, because I got too close to the coast a few times and was left with no wind. I somehow managed to catch some breeze and pass the islands to the open sea. After 2 hours, the real action began. The wind speed started to increase and it got up to 25 knots, maybe even more. The sea was raging, a swell was strong. I was not really used to these conditions with the race equipment and 25 knots. It was like I was kitesurfing on air and not on water, but I still believed in the success of my venture.
The fact is, on the open sea it is pretty hard to orientate and I have to admit, I was a bit lost. I realized it was better to look on the iPhone where I was and where I have to go. The sun was shining, the gusts of wind were bumping into me and I kept rotating the iPhone’s screen that keeps twisting my map in some weird direction. The land was sometimes on the right side and sometimes on the left side. Where is the destination? My gut was telling me that I was on the right way. I wanted to put away my iPhone, then suddenly… Boom! I rode under a wave and fell from the raceboard. The kite goes into a loop, the iPhone falls off the rope, Corn bars and the bottle of water were floating on water. The surfboard was somewhere in the swell. There was nobody anywhere near me and the land was just a dot in the distance. I was never so scared in my life. I knew that I have to take action fast and rescue myself from what seemed to be an impossible situation. I was just a moment away from ending my adventure and calling for help. And I did not even know who…
Of course my stubbornness helped. Somehow I managed to lift my kite in the air, then started picking up my things, floating on water and at the end, I found my raceboard. Before I continued my adventure, I drank all the water I had (not the best move) and ate the Corny bars. At that moment I thought that this would be better in my stomach than somewhere in the middle of the sea. I put away my iPhone behind the neoprene and decided that I would only use it for emergencies.
Because of the swell and the wind, the continuation was pretty hard. After about 2,5 hours of sailing everything started to soothe. The wind speed decreased. At that moment I realized that I am not even halfway from my destination, and there was no wind, food or water left! I started to ask myself, why I even started this adventure. Slowly I fell into despair. I looked at the beach and for a landing point, but all I saw were rocks and cliffs. I knew that it was impossible. If I happened to survive, the equipment definitely would not. And so I tried to go on, without will and absolutely tired. Then, I spotted a sailboat. I used my last amount of strength and kitesurfed after them. I swung with my hands and shouted that I need water. They looked at as if I were a maniac and were probably wondering where I came from. They laughingly started to point at bottles of beer. Okay, I got really thirsty, but beer REALLY wasn’t my favourite drink. Again, I shouted that I needed WATEEEER. And there we go. They threw me 1,5L of cold water. Relief. At least I would not die of thirst. I thanked them and kept going. I had no idea how much farther until I arrived at my destination. After my amateur calculations, I assumed that I would be at Bol around 6 o’clock P.M. and that I had to sail about 100km more. Of course, these calculations were completely wrong. Since the wind was changing its speed all the time, I could not sail accurately.
Meanwhile as the wind had gotten its speed, I got a new wave of energy and will. I looked at my iPhone and saw that my average speed was up to 45km/h. Since I was sailing with full speed for at least an hour, I had made up the lost time. Suddenly, in the distance, I spotted Hvar. All kinds of happy feelings came over me. I started to enjoy the ride and increased the tempo. I knew that I had to hurry up because when the sun is down, so is the thermics and wind. I quickly got closer and closer to the island, as I drove in a zig – zag motion from Šolta towards Hvar. In the meantime I got greeted by dolphins that were swimming around me for some time. It seemed like a sign that there was someone floating above me… Hmmh…
I finally arrived at Hvar, where I strategically stayed near the beach. I already knew that area, so I knew the wind was at its peak there. Sadly, my prediction was wrong. The wind’s speed got down to 5 knots. I was barely moving. Is this the end? 1 hour before the goal? Impossible! Again, my stubbornness came back. I started to kitesurf as fast as possible. My legs burnt, my soles and hands were wounded. All I could do was to hope that the wind would blow against Bol. Thank God it did. After about 30 minutes of desperately trying hard, the real Bol wind started blowing. In that moment, I knew that I would get to my destination. In the distance, I spotted the Golden Rat, my favorite kitesurfing spot. There were only a few kilometers separating me from reaching my goal. In that moment I was the happiest person on earth. At last I saw my friends who were impatiently waiting for me at the Kitesurfing center. I landed. My legs were barely holding me up, I could barely walk. No one could believe that I came from Biograd. It sounded impossible, but everyone just laughed. They really hadn’t believed me. For the doubtful ones, I took out my iPhone and showed them the way I was on. Only that made them believe. Half an hour after the landing, the wind shut down. It looks like I was accompanied by someone after all.
We celebrated that evening in style. Late at night, the hour was 2 AM, my follower arrived – the sailboat with my support team. Everyone was more tired than I, but without them, my adventure would not have succeeded. That is why I am thankful to skipper Mare and Anže for help, Neža for motivation, Ada, Rok, Meta for moral support. I also thank Žiga on Bol for the clothes. Also, thanks to Tony for bringing me and my surfboat to my apartment, and ‘Studio Alive’ for excellent body preparation. Oh and my parents for patience. I also thank everyone else that believed in me and supported me in this, on the first sight impossible adventure.
Of course there are even harder challenges for me in the future, but this time with a better organization and a bit more emphasis on safety. Guinness world record is 369,71 km. and if I find the proper route I can definitely try to beat it. Everyone who is interested is invited!