I will begin by admitting that I know little or nothing about kite-surfing. I would imagine it would involve riding a surfboard powered by some kind of kite, or perhaps a sail. It doesn't sound any more inviting to me than riding a surfboard powered by gigantic waves, but to each his dumbshit own, I've always said. Not that surfers are truly dumbshits, necessarily - no more than mountain-climbers, fire-eaters and tightrope-walkers - it is simply my thought that these folks have a screw loose. And "dumbshit" is my nice way of saying that. I have several thrill-seeking, water-loving dumbshit friends whom I love dearly. And I will miss them when they're eaten alive or crushed to pulp.
The kite surfer hero of today's tale is 42 years old and from Poland. In my opinion, he's lucky that he might live to see 43 and perhaps even taste drożdżówka again. Apparently, this brave soul - Jan Lisewski is his name - last year became the first person to kite surf across the Baltic Sea, which is much closer to his native Poland, and was not willing to leave well enough alone. I don't know how many miles that trip was, but the minimum width across the Baltic, via Finland, is around 16-18 miles. And according to the World-Wide-Web, there are 36 species of shark in the Baltic, though none are dangerous and most are near extinction. In other words, the lazy sharks live in the Baltic. The far-different trip the brave Mr. Lisewski chose to make across the Red Sea, from El Gouna, in Egypt to Duba, in Saudi Arabia is roughly 120 miles, which is quite a kite-surf haul by any standards of the kite-surf and littered with aggressive, hungry sharks nowhere near extinction (see colorful map below).
Note the red line tracing Our Intrepid Hero's intended route. You're welcome.
Armed with some energy drinks, water, energy bars and a knife, in addition to an emergency SOS beacon, Lisewski made it three quarters of the way through his journey when his kite collapsed, leaving him to flounder in shark-infested waters.
Note position of aggressive shark head in the water marking the approximate area of Lisewski's kite-collapse.
Lisewski set off his emergency beacon and proceeded to spend the next 40 hours on his surfboard fighting off sharks with his knife.
Artist's rendering of Kite-Surfer fighting off sharks and sea monsters.
"I was stabbing them in the eyes, the nose and gills," Lisewski later recalled. Good choices all. I do not know that I would have the wherewithal to stab an attacking shark - I am nearly certain I would be distracted and otherwise engaged in frantic paddling, shrieking, fouling my sporty swimtrunks and wailing to the heavens.
While I admire our Polish hero for his keen instincts of self-preservation and ability to fight off the man-eaters, who were no doubt quite tenacious, I still have to shake my head in bewilderment over his willingness to set himself up as a light snack for creatures of the deep. While I may never understand the mindset of the thrill-seeker, I can certainly appreciate his unflagging courage in the face of the snapping, bloodthirsty maw of death. I would, however, probably die of a heart attack well before the predators got close enough to smell my dirty britches. This would be my final act of nose-thumbing, even as my ticker was seizing up, content in the knowledge that I was depriving these hungry sea creatures of a live meal.
That would show them.