The following story was published in Kitesurf Magazine.
“The last few days I have been a bit depressed, since arriving back from Micronesia I have realized that maybe it just doesn’t get any better than that, after all my years of traveling, surfing and kiting, that place might just be the best place I have ever visited.”
Big claims indeed but when they are coming from Ben Wilson, you tend to listen as he has spent most of his life in the Pacific searching for waves and wind. Wilson has traveled to most islands that you can name and lived and worked for a couple of years on Namotu. At first I was apprehensive on his call about how good the place is and the potential for it to be even better. Writing it off as Wilson trying to pimp the place to me so I would write a positive article to keep his sponsor World Surfaris and the resort operator Allois happy. Allowing him to keep living his idyllic smug little life that this year consists of traveling to exotic locations to score the best set-ups and capture it on film for his upcoming flick “The Unknown Road”.
“The waves we surfed and kited on the Pohnpei trip were awesome. It was almost too much fun. You should have come with us, you will be spewing when you see the photos and the footage, mate!” Joel Beacus boasted down the phone line. When I opened Ben’s e-mail that afternoon and saw some of the shots I knew that they were both speaking the truth – The Caroline Crank Baby!
Micronesia is known in the surfing world for the awesome right-hander that breaks at P-Pass. Surf mags, professional surfers and intrepid travelers alike have been traveling there for the last 5 years to sample the goods the island has to offer. What they of course were blissfully unaware of is the huge potential that the islands hold for kiting. With cross and cross-off conditions prevalent throughout the year, Micronesia provides the perfect set-up to surf in the mornings and kite in the afternoons followed by a spot of fishing if you still have the energy to bait a hook.
Seeing the potential of the area, Ben organized young Aussie shredder Joel Beacus and good friend Daniel “Beaver” Bevan, and the mandatory video and stills crew for a mission to the islands. With all the crew meeting at Brisbane airport, the usual hassles with excess luggage unfolded. Luckily resulting in the boys charming a young receptionist and explaining that even though their boards looked like surfboards they were actually kiteboards (see the straps go here!!) and shouldn’t attract the same rate. The plot worked and the crew only paid half the usual amount, boarded the plane and headed towards the islands with their wallets a little heavier than expected. A good start!!
Pohnpei is located in Micronesia, also known to the surfing world as the Caroline Islands. Micronesia consists of four states, Pohnpei, Chuuk, Kosrae and Yap. Pohnpei has a land area of 130 square miles and is completely surrounded by a barrier reef, though luckily this includes several reef passes. Between the barrier reef and the island there are 80 square miles inner lagoon. Pohnpei is located 414 miles north of the equator and 3088 miles from Honolulu. If you draw a straight line in between Honolulu and Manila, the islands are located right in the middle of that line. (Go on draw all over your atlas, go on!)
In 2000 Allois Malfitani went searching for the waves that break around this island with little more to use as a reference than a picture from a National Geographic Magazine. After spending 12 years on Hawaii’s North Shore, the guy knew what he was looking for. He knew others had surfed it and after several attempts to locate the cranking right hand barrel in the photograph, Allois finally found it. After surfing the break for several days he was convinced that this place was truly a wave riding paradise and a place worth returning to. And return he did to build and operate the Pohnpei Surf Club, where the crew was lucky enough to stay during their visit.
The trip from Australia to Micronesia is a mission and after traveling through the night and half of the following day the crew finally arrived on the island. After getting a rundown on the local rules and regulations, the lads quickly sorted out their beds and hurried to check out the conditions. Much to their delight they scored an epic afternoon of surfing and kiting in perfect 4-5 ft waves and 15-knot cross-shore winds.
The windy season in Pohnpei is from mid December until late May. The best breaks in Pohnpei are located on the North and East side of the island. The predominant trade winds are cross shore/cross off shore on most breaks on the north side. There are 3 reef passes on the north side near the Pohnpei surf club. Sohkes Pass is best suited for kiting. This is the break that gets most of the swells that hit the north side. It is always 1/3 bigger than the other breaks. Sohkes pass is a perfect right reef pass. It is located right in front the Pohnpei Surf Club.
Predominate winds at Sohkes pass are cross-shore. 3 miles down the reef to the west is Palikir Pass – the famous P-Pass. This is the most surfed wave in Pohnpei. It is not an ideal place for kiting unless there is no one surfing as the winds are too strong and more from the east. The breaks on the north side work from October until early May and the east side from September until mid December.
“This trip to Micronesia gave me my two greatest days ever since I've been into kiting — epic surf in the morning, epic kiting in the arvo and all time fishing just before dark, these are the 3 reasons why I love the ocean and this place gave it to me all in one day —TWICE! I'll reflect on those days forever.” Ben Wilson.
The second morning the crew headed to a different reef break, which was smaller than the previous days. Conditions still allowed a 5-hour kiting session, which was only cut short by the arrival of the 2 o’clock flight – the plane comes in so low that having the kites in the air would provide an unwanted obstacle for the pilot.
Motoring back to P-Pass for a quick surf and then a spot of fishing. The fishing in the area is awesome and during the trip the crew caught tuna and wahoo. Feasting their catch at night. “ I remember that day I caught a massive wahoo, well actually it wasn’t that big, but can you put it in the article that it was. I am trying to build my reputation as a fisherman”, recalls Joel. “Where the hell are we going to go now, to beat this place!!!!” says Beav. Like every great adventure, the fish that you caught get bigger, the tubes longer and the wind even more perfect.
The next few days were a mixed bag with the swell dropping, not much wind and some rain. This gave the crew a chance to relax and re-charge. Although there were still waves to be had, if you were keen and if you threw a line in, you were guaranteed to catch a fish or five.
News came via the Internet of an expected 8-10 foot swell accompanied by 15-20 knot winds and the excitement in the ranks was obvious. Boards were waxed and straps were located just in case. Leg ropes checked and alarm clocks set. Although when you’re traveling with Ben you don’t need to worry about an alarm, as he is always the first one up to check the conditions. If there is any swell he will be rousing the troops within seconds of first light. Ranting and raving about the swell and the need to hurry up so as not to miss a single wave, banging on bungalow doors like a circus trainer rattling the cages of his tigers.
“The trip to Pohnpei was insane, some of the best footage I’ve captured since Hawaii. Ben and Joel surfing & kiting was explosive, both surfed like their personalities, Ben, Mr. Smooth made everything effortless, from his tube riding at P-Pass to kiting Main Pass so radically but always making it look so easy.
Joel, well I’ve never seen a 19 yr old go so hard in the surf and his kiting was awesome to watch. He'd come to a section and no matter if it were 3-4 ft or 8-10 ft he’d go vertical & hit it as hard as possible. They were both feeding off each other the entire time. This section in Ben’s new movie “The Unknown Road” you will be rewinding and watching again and again.” Marcus Baker – surf videographer.
The predicted swell arrived the following day and it was the heaviest waves of the trip. Joel broke his second board after trying to backdoor a ridiculously hollow barrel and was relegated to the boat to watch Ben weave through another hour’s worth of tubes. After a return trip to the camp for a quick rest and some food, the boys hooked into some more super-thick barrels. Joel snapped his last board and again gets to watch Ben spoil himself rotten with barrels. The following two days provide epic conditions for surfing and kiting. Ben scored one of the best waves of his surfing career and after exiting a seemingly endless stand up barrel has to paddle away from the break. Almost overdosing on adrenalin he has to calm himself before paddling out the back for another wave. With the wind picking up enough for the boys to rig their big kites they quickly launched and returned to the waves. Continuing to enjoy the epic waves for the rest of the afternoon, Joel somehow managed to break the borrowed board he was riding just minutes before the end of the session.
The final day of the trip the crew was again blessed with thick smoking right-handers in the morning and surfed their brains out. The afternoon again produced enough wind to rip the waves to shreds with their kites. Joel again snapping a board in the afternoon session and saving himself and several others the excess baggage charges on the return flight to Australia.
The mission was a success as their dream of getting epic surf in the mornings and epic kiting in the afternoons became a reality. They had some awesome footage for Ben’s film and experienced some of the best waves of their lives. In the process they had put another epic destination on the kiting world map – Pohnpei, Micronesia or Caroline Islands.
For more information about kiting in Pohnpei, please contact us at email@example.com
Because the airport runway is near some kiting spots, please ask our staff about restricted zones and times to kite near the airport area. Let’s keep Pohnpei a kite-friendly place.
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