Kiteboarding Long Distance World Record Broken (full story)

Phil Midler breaks world record by riding 200 nautical miles in over 17 hours.



The Whole Story:
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Check out local news coverage:
Over 200 Nautical miles rode using only kite power along the texas coast for over 17.75hrs using a Slingshot Celeritas 5’4″ Surf Board, Slingshot RPM 10m kite, Mystic Razor life vest, GoPro HD head cam, etc

Monday started out at 4am getting our gear ready and making sure the chase crew had everything they needed.  Our chase crew consisted of Mitch’s girlfriend Pepper for the southern portion of the ride and my wife Alesha for the finish area.  First off, Pepper is the coolest chick ever and flew down from Houston to chase us using Mitch’s car.  She left SPI for Corpus at around 5am, which would be the first area she would see us.  Mitch and I geared up and had a sending off by a few brave souls: Dave Horn, Chris Summers, and Norberto Ponce
(local deputy sheriff).  Dave Horn is an ordained minister so he gave us a quick prayer and we hit the water working our way down wind.  The breeze was averaging around 20mi/hr out of the south-south/east, so it was almost directly side shore so the going was tough.  Mitch was on a 12m and I was on a 10m because the wind was going to get much stronger as the day went on. 

            The first 70mi was very hard due to the wind strength and direction so we were constantly jibing back and forth in the surf averaging around 10-14mi/hr.  It was slow going, Mitch felt that I had a better chance to make the record alone so he stopped south of Corpus at the first point we met Pepper.  From that point forward it was a solo mission.  Once I got near Corpus around the 100mi point the coast line started to curve so that south-south/east wind was more side shore allowing me to make better time (still constantly pumping the kite but making a better angle down the beach).  In this area the wind was averaging high twenties and gusting well over 30mph so I was glad for the 10m size decision.  After 100 miles my legs already felt like Jell-O and I knew it would be a hard second half to finish that day.  Neil Hutchinson (previous record holder for his ride from Key West to Cuba 94mi) had given me some pointers on the ride and told me a lot of it would be mental.  The next 5-6 hours of riding would be a brutal test of my mental toughness.        

The next point I would see the chase crew was in Port Aransas before the jetties.  After that point I would enter a very remote section of the Texas Coast called Matagorda island, these are a set of barrier islands about 65-70 miles long with no access, no people, and nothing resembling civilization.  I met Mitch and Pepper at Port Aransas after about 9hrs of riding and made the decision to go for the record riding solo across the Matagorda island section.  From Corpus to Port Aransas was the fastest section of the ride with a great side shore wind.  I averaged 22mi/hr and had a max speed of 38.4mi/hr!  This was the best section for me flying past people swimming in the surf and blowing by all the kiteboarders at Bob Hall pier.  I even managed a high-speed high five from one of the boogie boarders as I rode by. 
After meeting Mitch and Pepper at Port Aransas I left and started the process of cutting up wind to get around the .5mi long Port A jetties.  This is no small feat on a surf board set up for down wind riding and in 15ft breaking surf.  After 30 minutes of struggling I finally made it around the jetties and stepped into the most remote section of the ride, the Matagorda barrier islands.  For the next 65-70mi I would see no other vehicles, people, or buildings.  By this time the coast line had shifted enough so that I was now edging on my board, cutting slightly up-wind to stay with the coast line.  I was still making great time, but made getting around the inlet jetties and debris in the surf very difficult.  The toughest jetties to make it around were just past the Port O’Conner inlet to the east.  I was cutting hard upwind riding parallel to huge breaking surf when I was actually thrown onto the granite jetty because I was too close.  I was very tired and the heel-side tack was so much easier that I kept getting closer and closer to the jetty on my heel side before switching to toe-side to get around it.  I landed board first and managed to escape to the other side of the jetty with only scraping the skin off the front of my right shin.  I stopped on the other side after clearing the jetties to inspect the injury and was surprised to see that despite all of the blood it was only a flesh wound.   

By now I was approaching 12-13 hrs of riding and it was starting to get dark.  I knew that I had one more set of jetties to get around and I was worried about doing it at night.  I rode for about an hour after dark and finally stopped.  The wind was blowing about 25-30mph and was directly onshore if not slightly onshore the wrong direction, I had been riding upwind hard for the last 2 hours.  I committed to spending the night on this remote spit of land until it was light enough to finish the ride.  This was 180 nautical miles (via GPS) from our start point in South Padre Island.  I wasn’t worried about my night on the island and knew I’d be fine.  I’ve been in much worse situations climbing remote mountains around the world.  I set up camp digging a hole in the sand and putting my kite over it to protect me from the wind.  I took a space blanket with on the trip incase of something like this so I used it to keep my upper body warm until it was light again.  I knew the chase crew was worried about me and didn’t want them to scrabble the authorities so after a short reprieve I left my makeshift shelter, got my cell from the dry bag and tried to climb around on the dunes to find a signal to get them a message.  I was finally able to get a 1x signal and get a short text to Mitch and Alesha telling them I was fine. 
ylight came slowly as it was a cold windy night.  At around 5am I started gearing up for the final push to safety.  After lying down for so long my whole body ached from the previous day’s accomplishments.  I remembered a talk I had with Neil Hutchinson about his trip from Key West to Cuba (94mi) in the open ocean and was just thankful that I was able to make it to shore for a safe night sleep.  I had run out of food and water over the night so was pretty anxious about getting to the finish.  The last 20 nautical miles were upwind riding in a crazy shore break and took me a long time.  I finally got to the last set of jetties and after a battle made it to the inside of the inlet and the end of my trek.  The beach that I finished on had woman (Dorthy) who was on duty with a construction crew keeping people out of the construction zone.  They were refurbishing the jetty system with large machinery.  Well I came riding right into the construction zone onto a narrow beach that Dorthy happened to be standing on.  She said “you’re not supposed to be here” and I said “I’ll only be a second, I just broke a world record”.  She replied “where did you come from” and I said “South Padre Island”.  Dorthy decided to let me stay I the end and even signed an affidavit to the fact.  It was 8:15am and I had finished a total of 200 nautical miles over 17.75 hours of almost continuous riding.  


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4 Responses to Kiteboarding Long Distance World Record Broken (full story)

  1. Brian Odum says:

    Phil big congrats man. I heard about this last week then got the full story online. that is so fine and really glad you made it, you are well and you set the new record.
    Keep me in mind next time you are thinking about doing a long distance trek. I love that kind of stuff. See you on the water soon.

  2. Danny VanBuskirk says:

    Great job, your friend and student from Kansas city

  3. Joe Kliewer says:

    That is the kind of news story I like to hear.

  4. Mike Ledet says:

    You weren’t kidding when you said you don’t get tired. Taking the Ultramarathon to kiteboarding.

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