Kitesurfing for Egypt: Man primed to beat Guinness Record
By 10, Maciej Zimowski (aka Mike) was comfortably surfing the Baltic waves as a budding young surfer boy in homeland Poland - and just a hop skip and jump away from what would become his life passion: kitesurfing.
This month, the ambitious father of a 5-year-old, Marlon, based on Egypt's coast is taking on a personal extreme sport challenge, and attempting to beat the Guinness World Records (TM) for kitesurfing (or kiteboarding) in the category of The Longest Kite Surfing Journey. The current record stands at 369.7 km -‐ 229.73 miles. He proposes to beat it by kiting from Suez Port to El Quasir, a distance of 400km.
The pioneering Polish kiteboarder knows his surf. He'll be riding along the coast line rather than crossing the sea-- by far a riskier option as sea-crossing would pose other obstacles and perils. The adventure surface watersport uses techniques that ultimately combine wakeboarding, surfing, windsurfing and paragliding. All transferrable surface watersport skills, it turns out.
He may be foolhardy but he's not foolish or about to jeapardize his life challenge, nor the reputation of a 'niche' but altogether accessible and safe sport. So he'll be harnessed to the right cocktail of safety equipment (not to mention a couple of Snickers bars for pick-up during the 24-hour intense race against the elements). And for extra safe measure, Red Bull - behind him all the way as one of the official sponsors - will be giving him wings!
Rough winds, choppy waters
He's no stranger to accidents, since he sufferend a neck injury (unrelated to surfing) when he was young. The grave upper-spinal injury would for some have put paid to any sporty challenges on top of the gruelling recovery requried to regain flexibility. Not for Mike. He soon discovered that he gained extreme toning, strengthening and agility from this extreme sport.
Windsurfing was a good friend to his speedy full recovery. More recently a minor hitch (that could have been fatal) tripped him up during his training when he stepped on a (deadly poisonous) stonefish. He will have a rescue boat alongside him for the trip.
He’s making his long kitesurfing expedition on a long day. Mid June hosts the lengthiest days of the year, so mid-June it will be, scheduled (loosely) on the Summer solstice. A firm date will be announced in due course.
Behind the man and the challenge
Since, like cross country skiing, or rowing, he will be surfing in zig-zag style (tacking) from side to side, he will be covering more waves that the straight line distance of 400km. HIs left and right navigation beefs up the mileage to 550km.
We spoke to the sporty man himself - Maciej Zimowski about what his motivations and inspirations were, and what he aimed to achieve by this marathon ride that would be exhausting not only physically but also mentally.
Resident on the Red Sea, and long-time supporter of Egypt’s watersport opportunities, the man carries 16 years of experience as a windsurfing instructor, 11 years Senior kitesurfing instructor from the International Kiteboarding Organization (IKO), Level 2 Senior.
By 2005, he founded the Red Sea Zone, a kitesurfing school in El Gouna which he continus to manage with hands on 'board' approach.
While he regards kitesurfing as rewarding - his passion, play and pleasure - he also appreciates the more trying and endurance aspects such as the discipline required in training, and the stamina to ride long distance. He buys into a whole lifestyle around the sport, and keeps healthy and fit by gymnastics, yoga and special diet. Smoke and alochol free, his regimine requires dediction that he gives readily because the pay-off is supreme.
He likes the individual challenge and facing his own sheer strength and limitations, and he is especially keen to tell us why it's the sport to save both Egypt and youth all over the continent.
He outlines numerous benefits to the non-elitest sport. It is inclusive to old and young, we are assured. While it is an extreme sport, Mike wants to open kitesurfing up to the sea-loving world as being much more accessible and even safe than the category would suggest. He is gushing to tell us about his involvement in a program sponsoring kitesurfing for children in Africa. Kids can kitesurf from 8 years, and he would be thrilled if his own 5 year-old boy decides to pick up this sport that is about conquering fears and honing confidence. He regards it as a great buster of crime, drugs and youth boredom. It harnesses discipline and conquers weakness and fears. For third world countries, it is a great outlet for frustrated lives, and is healthy and affordable under the sponsorship program he supports.
Mike V. the Egyptian elements
Other people believe in it and their vote of confidence and support in the lead-up is helping him. He is particulary driven to kitesurf this epic challenge spurred by his young son, Marlon, who is a key inspirational force. A big mention goes out to his very supportive girlfriend and muse, Anna!
Not only is he doing for his 'team', but more than anything, he’s doing it for Egypt. He very much wishes to dispel the notion that Egypt is struggling, or a negative environment to be in just now in the transitional political climate – and invites and implores people to come along and have a splash in the tempting waters of teh Red Sea. For him, Egypt - the land of water from the ancient Nile to the modern El Gouna - was and always will be the ‘place where dreams come true’. He stresses that Egypt is stilll a stable and safe nation and a super setting for watersports.
Mike would like to thank his main sponsors and partners, and all those behind his record ride:
Main sponsor: El Gouna
Media Sponsor: Al Bawaba