New Caledonia is truly kiting paradise, it has everything from massive flat-water lagoons to offshore reefs with reeling waves. In November this year I went to meet up with Felix Pivec (Aus - kiting for Airush) who was there to do a photo and DVD shoot with a local filmcrew. To get there is a slight mission, get to Sydney and it's only a 3 hour flight further into the Pacific.
Weather is warm to hot with one side of the island very dry whilst the other side is tropical, it's mountainous and has plenty to offer for the adventurous. Wind blows all year but most consistent and strongest from Sept - March from a South Easterly direction (tradewinds). The island is over 500km long and lies elongated in the pacific in a South East to North West direction - perfect for the prevailing SE wind and SW swells. New Cal has major outer reefs which lie up to 100km off the island with most wave kite spots within 15-20km of the island.. So your rental car is useless, you need a boat and some locals to show you where to go otherwise you will spend your holiday kiting flat water spots (which,by the way,are excellent).
Felix had been invited by local surfshop owner and kiter/surfer Bruno Castets to go to one of their many offshore island trips to explore reefs and lagoons. KPWT had just finished their last event of the year and they had crowned Gisela Poulido (Spa) womens world champ and Tom Herbert (New Cal) mens junior world champ, so Felix was in good company with his Airush Teammates. So to go waveriding in New Cal you pack your provisions for a couple of days, grab a tent and go by boat to a desolated island and camp out. We ended up on an island which is sitting inside the lagoon with two passes in each end, so sailing off the island was flatwater and venturing out to the pass revealed peeling waves.
The one pass was still a solid 20 minute upwind mission from the island so it's no wonder the locals have perfected kite boat-launches. But the reward is astounding, each pass seems to have been designed by the kite gods as the swell peels forever and the wind direction on the wave is nothing short of perfect side with a tinge of offshore towards the end of the rides..
Felix is Wavemaster Champ from Durban 2003 and his unhooked wakeboard style was incredible to watch in these perfect conditions. One day Bruno took us to another pass which was absolutely incredible. Again the launch was either boat-launch or off nearest island.
We chose island launch as swimming around with tangled lines in 20-25knots and swell wasn't that inviting. Kiting off the small island we were about 15km off the main island and looking out to sea we couldn't even see the reef yet! So you go for about 10 minutes towards the horizon and eventually the reef shows up with some blue in between - that's where you are going, it's the pass. Out through the pass and 15 minutes straight downwind along the reef which has 4-5ft breaking waves. By now your legs are gelly but suddenly you get to the next pass and here we found a sick bowling wave. We named it Jack Daniels because it jacks so fast you could compare it to mini-Teapuho, the bottom squares out and and it throws a considerable lip - Felix got totally tubed with his lines sticking out the hole - watch the magazines next year for some unbelievable sequences.
The Zamprod filmcrew got stacks of footage and I expect the DVD to be pretty awesome, it'll have everything from a 10 year old Gisela doing double kiteloops in 30knots of wind to Tom Herbert riding barefoot and Felix smacking lips on longboards, surfboards and wakeboards. New Caledonia is unreal because it is so beautiful and uncrowded. The wavespots are probably the best in the world and as it is complicated to get there, you'll be lucky to be more than you and your mates on the waves, add to this tropical temperatures and flatwater heaven and New Cal is truly kiting paradise.
Peter Petersen Slingshot/Cycloneboards