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From Sakhalin to Hokkaido. Russian kitesurfer crossed the La Perouse Strait
Recent years have been significant for kiting. In November 2018, it became known that this sport will be included in the program of the 2024 Olympics. The positive decision was made after the debut at the Youth Games in Buenos Aires. Now the adult Games in France will decorate speed races on parafoils and hydrofoils - boards capable of moving at speeds of up to 70 km / h with minimal wind. It is noteworthy that this discipline is practically independent of external weather conditions and lends itself to objective assessment. Each country will be represented by only two participants, so the competition at the stage of preparation and selection is already felt.
This year another event took place, which gives reason to be proud of kiting. Two weeks ago, at 10:40 am, a Russian athlete went out on the water at Cape Krilyon, the southernmost point of Sakhalin. Evgeny Novozheev was professionally kiting until 2010 and managed to win the title of four-time champion of Russia. This time with him he only had a board with minimal buoyancy, a kite, wind, a navigator and a lot of experience behind him. Eugene's ambitious goal was to cross the La Perouse Strait, which separates the shores of Russia and Japan. At that moment, the current record holder could not have imagined that in 2 hours 56 minutes he would be the first who managed to do this. Here's how the historical transition from Sakhalin to Hokkaido took place.
The idea was born after the Bering Strait, 2011
La Perouse is not the first and not even the largest strait that succumbed to Novozheev's skill. In July 2011, Evgeny, together with the escort team, crossed the Bering Strait, making their way from Chukotka to Alaska. The shortest distance from the starting point to the finish is 98 km, but the athlete had to cover all 175 km due to wind and currents.
Then, having landed on the American coast and bought a tablet to communicate with civilization, the athlete immediately became study the map of the world and look for a new goal. The most accessible and, moreover, unexplored strait was La Perouse.
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La Perouse: why this place?
The Sea of Okhotsk and the Sea of Japan meet in the La Perouse Strait ... Novozheev's team knew that it would be difficult to sail there because of the powerful currents and the decent size of the waves on which to accelerate. A risky expedition required serious physical preparation and choosing the right moment to start - up to a minute.
And yet La Perouse is the strait that washes the shores of Russia. Until October of this year, he did not submit to any athlete. Eugene followed the attemptsoh to cover the same distance by Japanese kiteboarders in September - their experiment was unsuccessful. This gave the situation even more excitement.
As a result, the team chose the exact route: from Cape Crillon to Cape Soya, in order to cross the strait by the shortest route. After all, if you go out on the water from the mainland, from Vladivostok, then about three hundred extra kilometers are immediately added to the initial distance.
Choosing weather conditions
The most important factor for kiteboarding is wind. He must blow with sufficient speed to keep the kite in the air and carry the athlete on the board. Therefore, after studying the winds in that area and talking with local kiters, Novozheev's team began to wait for the most opportune moment.
After the most powerful Hagibis, which went to the Pacific Ocean in a northeast direction, the so-called tails remained. It was they who stably maintained the wind speed at the start up to 10-12 m / s and sometimes caused sharp gusts up to 18 m / s from Japan.
It may seem that such a wind speed is too high and dangerous. But sailing in soft, comfortable weather with such a task is impossible: the wind must support movement both at the very beginning of the journey and at the end. Provided that an athlete enters the water with a moderate wind of 8 m / s, there is a huge risk of stalling as soon as the speed drops to 6 m / s.
The second important natural factor is the strong current from the Japanese side. The shortest distance from Cape Crillon to the finishing Cape Soya is 53 km, but Evgeny walked as much as 57 km due to a strong lateral current that carried the athlete away from the original route. For the same reason, it was impossible to synchronize the tracks of the escort boat and the kiteboarder. Thus, the nearest help was at a distance of 5 km from Novozheev, the team was guided only by the kite and the radio visible in the sky.
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Physical preparation for the transition
Evgeny understood that experience alone is not enough for the upcoming test. He intensively prepared for a heavy load, especially on his legs, carefully chose a comfortable wetsuit and brought himself into excellent physical shape. In addition, Novozheev assumed that throughout the entire journey he would have to keep in a static position, in which all the load falls on the hind leg. This is tantamount to covering 57 km while standing and periodically jumping on one bent leg. And not on a flat surface, but on waves up to 8 meters high.
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Consent from Russia and Japan
The team unanimously called the coordination with the border services of both states the most exhausting part of the preparation. To cross the La Perouse Strait on a kiteboard, they had to go through a full inspection in the city of Korsakov and at the same time explain to the representatives of the Japanese side how the expedition and, most importantly, why. In addition, Novozheev received a separate permission from Russia to start from Cape Krillon, and not from the checkpoint in Korsakov (+100 extra km), as required by the regulations.
The three hours during which Eugene crossed the La Perouse Strait were exciting for everyone. The kiteboarder walked in one breath and with a little fear that the wind will die down. ”His team worried much more and supported not only Novozheev himself lived, but also his family. Those close to Eugene knew that the athlete would not leave the intended path, and finally heard the good news: he did it - he set a new world record.