This might have never happened: Punta Abreojos
Aistė | Kitesurfing | May 26, 2010
The first lesson that beginer kiter gets from his instructor – never go out with off-shore conditions. After a while instructor explains that it could be done when you have The Skill and when the off-shore spot has a rescue boat.
The only exception for this rule – wave spots. With the off’-shore winds the waves become glassy, beautiful and long. Thus, crazy wave riders usually take the risks and sail in realy extreme conditions. After few days we spent in well known wave spot Punta Abreojos with awesome South swell, we took off to the town to get some food suplies. When we came back, we became witnesses of the serious rescue mission.
The evening of May 24. Punta Abreojos wind picks up in noon and blows till 6-7 PM. Then the sun sets. Thus, everyone usually enjoyes waves till the dawn. That day our hero, lets call him Jacob, was one of those who played in the waves until it was almost dark. To properly introduce Jacob I have to say that he is not a beginer. Punta Abreojos – his home spot. He knows the wind and the character of the swell very well. Yesterday he was riding 4 metre wave! But this evening was different than usuall. The wind suddenly went down and shifted to the North (usually it’s West, North West). Jacob tried to go upwind but his kite fell into the water and he couldn’t relaunch it anymore. Still the kite was draging him down wind, which in this case means straight to the open Pacific. The next spot for him – if he’s lucky – Isla Magdalena, 200 km away. If he’s not so lucky – Chile or New Zealand.
Punta Abreojos – fishermen village. Friend on the shore watched Jacob’s unsuccesfull effort and immediately called fishermen for help. The tide was very high and the waves – pretty big, so fishermen waited for some time hoping that Jacob will succeed to reach the shore by himself. But the sun was getting low and he wasn’t coming any closer. The rase with time has begun. Fishermen decided to go. By that time Jacob had already let go off his kite and was swiming on his surfboard. On the big wave days the ocean becomes really cold because of the upwelling. Hipothermia and shock was taking Jacob over. While Punta Abreojos experienced one of its beautiful sunsets Jacob, as later he told us, was thinking about those 5 windsurfers and kiters that he have saved himself through his travels in Baja. Today the table have turned.
Finally fishermen with their little panga managed to go over the 2-3 meter beach break. They fished Jacob and his kite at the exact moment when the sun reached the horizon. He was freezing. Shocked. But alive. And grateful to finally reach the ground.
In the end:
- 2 hours spent in the cold Pacific water;
- fishermen had to fish the kiter almost in the dark;
- swiming as hard as he could, he never got closer to the shore;
- so many “dark thoughts” that it would be enough for at least five years (quotation);
- tired and shocked
What could have been done to avoid the situation:
- with off-shore conditions a kiter should be extremely careful. Mind even the slightest changes in the mood or weather;
- head straight to the shore if you feel even the slightest change in the wind strength;
- if you didn’t succeed to relauch the kite in the first five minutes, make a decision to let the equipment go;
This story has a happy ending because of lucky conincidence. Next time there will be a thousand of things that will not allow fishermen to be on time. No one never have conqured the power of water and wind. The only way not to get yourself in this kind of the situation is Think! Don’t panic. Evaluate yourself critically. And do not hesitate to make a decision.