NABX 2012 – Memories

NABX 2012 very nearly didn’t happen for me this year, after contracting a quite strange illness just prior to making the trip, even just a few days before, I was asking Denise to cancel the trip, luckily she took no notice, and nursed me to a stage I was well enough to make the trip. In fact nabx 2011 was always meant to be a one off trip for me, but, I felt I needed to go one last time, I felt I could not just leave it and never go back, I had made too many new friends during 2011, I just had to go  back once more.

We were to include an extra day this year and arrived late Tuesday evening, tired after our long flight we hit the sack as soon as we got into our room at Buffalo Bills.

Wednesday, after lying in bed awake from 1.00am, I got up to meet Ryan Dyrud on the playa at 7.30am to pick my buggy up, he had kindly offered to pick it up from Bobby Muse who had been holding it for me for a few weeks prior to NABX, in fact sending the buggy was a whole experience in itself this year what with one problem after another, but it finally made it to Bobs.

After finding Ryan, he handed me the buggy over and thought he would have a little fun with me, pretending he had only two tyres and was asking if I had only brought a kite bike and not a buggy….I laughed and said don’t start…I have had enough problems without you guys pretending I only had two tyres, he brought a third tyre out, and I said, “yes nice one thank you, but now can I have the rims too”….”errr what rims, we have no rims with us”  Ryans replied, Bob, had warned me Ryan was a joker, so I thought, here we go, this is another wind up….”seriously” he kept saying, so I checked the car myself….they were not there, Ryan at this stage had a stern look on his face when he realised there should have been rims too, he phoned Bob and asked about the rims…..well I am not sure what happened, but Bob, immediately jumped in his car a drove the rims to the lake bed for me….luckily he lives close by, and I was very grateful, as the wind was already blowing.

Playa Buggy















I met Chris Shultz from HQ, who had kindly offered me some kites to use, to start with just brush away any rustiness from hardly buggying for the last year I took out a 3m HQ Beamer….10 minutes on the Playa was enough time for me to feel a race kite was needed now, so I swapped the Beamer for the 3.4m HQ Prodigy Race kite…in fact this kite would be the only kite I would fly for the entire event.










More and more people were rolling into buggy camp, I was out on the playa, enjoying using the Prodigy and the Playa Buggy I had made for this years event for the first time….everything seemed spot on, so I pushed the kite as much as I could and managed 56.20mph….an improvement on last years speed, although I would have liked another 10mph added to it, but for today, that was enough.

PTW powered by 3.4m HQ Prodigy















later during the day I met Mike Kenley and his daughter Tyler, Mike came to me wanting his first kite buggy, and as luck would have it,  I was already building the Playa buggy for the event, and as Mike was a similar size to me, everything seemed to fall into place,  Mike was to take the Playa buggy home after the event, I would take care of the shipping in return for the use of the buggy during the event.

Mike had already seen many photos of the buggy and during the build process, but had never seen up close, or more importantly …sat in it. As soon as I saw Mike, I knew the buggy would fit him perfectly, and it did, and later during the afternoon, with a small amount of tuition from me, Mike set off on his maiden voyage in the Playa buggy, he did very well, but the wind had died to almost nothing, and so Mike, scootered the buggy back to camp, with a huge grin on his face….he loved it.

Thursday, Today was going to be windier than the day before,  in fact the gusts were to reach 40+mph, during the morning the 3.4m Prodigy was just ok, but I was on the limit for that size, I stayed out for as long as I could, before coming back to buggy camp as the winds by lunch time had picked up, if there had been a smaller Prodigy at this stage for me it would have been perfect for a new PB for me, but unfortunately the 3.4m is the smallest of the range, and the 3m Beamer was already out with someone else…this was a little frustrating for me to say the least, but I told myself, a week ago I was ready for cancelling the whole trip, and I was more than grateful to just be here, so I just used this opportunity to take some photos of Stephan van Bommel and Mano Dirix, this was was to become the Stephan and Mano show….they were mainly the only guys out on the playa, using 4-5m PDK Combats on 10m lines, the skills this pair were showing everyone was breath taking….amazing skills, and made everything they did look sooo easy, I have never seen such skills in a race buggy anywhere.

Mano Dirix













I have to say also how well Matin Faber had constructed the GT Race buggies, although I know the two buggies used at NABX,  have added strength and the stronger head stock bolts. Credit must also be awarded to Landsegler, those light weight wheels Stephan and Mano were using took a tremendous hammering, and they held up perfectly, I was very impressed.

Stephan van Bommel















Thursday evening in the big tent was the HQ night, and Chris Shultz gave a funny and emotional speach about AJ aka Charles “Action” Jackson, who had left a huge hole in the buggying community, and in fact this years nabx, was in his honour RIP AJ

Friday, The winds today were much lighter, and Saturday was predicted even lighter still…I had a good session again on the 3.4m Prodigy, until the wind eased off to around 8-12mph, this would be another good opportunity for Mike to have another go in the buggy, so off he went again, he was gone for what must have been an hour or so, he was not using a harness, so I knew his arms must have turned to jelly by now, eventually we caught sight of him again scooting the buggy back up wind to buggy camp, he had gone down wind where it was quieter and had a blast, but as his arms were to tired it was easier to scoot the buggy back, I must say I was very impressed with his enthusiasm.

Later in the afternoon the winds picked up again, Wexler Muse, came over to me……I just knew the sign, and knew what was going to happen next….”what is your fastest speed” he asked, it was then I knew for sure…..I knew this young 16 year old had done me…..Come on Wexmeister tell me… fast? 58.30mph….I was thrilled for him, not only had he gone faster than any other 16 year old in the world, he also has the record for the fastest PTW Buggy, as he was using the PTW Hero Buggy. Wexler Muse is one to watch in the future for sure and has already been snapped up by HQ as a team rider.

Wexler Muse behind the Hero and Playa Buggies















Later during the afternoon, Riccardo came up to me saying Brian Holgate wanted me to reset the GPS’s on the PL Speed buggy, he was going to try to break 90mph…the gusts were coming through strong enough for sure as the afternoon  drew to a close. I met Brian and his crew further down buggy camp, where he was in the process of adding the 500kg lines to the 3.2m Vapor…I was extremely excited about this, and honoured to have been asked to be a part of this attempt, the GPS’a were all reset, everything was ready….Brian set off….we waited for what seemed an eternity for Brian to come into view, I guessed he was waiting for the perfect gusts….eventually he came into view, but there was a problem, he was traveling around 60mph and he knew something was wrong, and eventually, his team went out to meet him in his pick up, the wheel axle had broken, not for the first time either.

Brian Holgate sets off for another Record Attempt














By the time he arrived back to buggy camp, most of his team had left, and I could see the frustration on Brian’s face so asked if there was anything I could do…he said the threads are gone on the bolt, I had a quick look and knew I could sort this problem out, so I set to work in Brians trailer workshop and removed to burred threads for the bolt, the bolt was now about 4mm shorter than before, but at least he could now use it, we found a friend of his (sorry I cannot remember your name) who had previously helped out with this buggy and had helped Gav during the rebuild process, he has all sorts of nuts bolts and washers, and we need a split washer or lock nut to hold the wheel in place on the shortened bolt. Once the wheel had been re set, Brian changed the lines onto a 2.7m Vapor and as there was only myself left I held the kite in position for Brian, Stupid Dave came over to take over the kite holding so I could take some photos, off Brian went again, and it was great to see the speed buggy speeding almost along side Stephan in his GT buggy….what a site, unfortunately one of Brian’s line snapped bringing a close to the day, I had spent around 4-5 hours with him, and those hours I will never forget, I am also very confident, that Brian will continue to break more speed records, and hopefully this will spurr other builders to come up with their own versions of a buggy that will break records in the future.

Stephan and Brian….speed merchants

Saturday, After expecting no winds at all, I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived on the playa to find a nice steady 15mph wind, in fact this lovely warm wind stayed with us all day, and it turned out to be the best day I have ever had on the playa for the last two years, not because of breaking any records, but just for the constant wind all day, very similar to an onshore beach wind, I took the buggy out and had a great time doing powered down turns, and power sliding, getting speeds up to around 45mph, these are the days kite buggying were made for…perfect, I took the buggy back for Mike to have another go, the wind was much better for him today, he toyed with the idea of using a harness, and after a short practise static flying he decided against it, a wise decision I thought at this stage, off he went, this time with my gps on his arm, he went for miles, and it took Tyler and myself a good 20 minutes or so to spot him out on the playa, we decided to walk out to him to take some photos and video, he was a good two miles downwind, we finally got his attention and he came over, proudly showing he had gone over 35mph, I was soo happy for him, he had been out well over an hour without a harness, and his arms must have felt like dropping off, but this time he was determined to make it back to buggy camp powered by the wind, so off he went on a tack up wind, and must have gone three miles before making the turn to buggy camp….he’d made it, I was amazed at such skills for someone who had only just got into a kite buggy, that made my day.

I saw Kent Kingston out on his land sailer, Denise had a ride with Kent last year, and I wanted a go this time, so I ran over and shook his hand again…..”wanna ride with me”, I was straight in….wow this is a great experience, once we returned, he offered me a go on my own….well I have to say, he never saw the land sailer again for almost two hours, I was having a ball out there, and was faster than anything else including buggies, what an experience, thanks Kent.

The food this year was as superb as always, Carlton and his brilliant team, served us all well and kept our bellies full, the organization was as spot on and the dedicated team of organisers and helpers including the Flexi team all go to make a fantastic experience for everyone who attends…and everyone who does attend will leave with a life times worth of great memories.

Happy Times















This year was the last time I will attend NABX, I have been blessed with being able to make the trip twice, and that was once more than I expected, I have been very very lucky to have been able to go, and would like to thank, everyone, who has helped me along the way in making these two very special events in my life become a reality Bobby Muse, Kent Kingston, Dino, Sieger, Chris Shultz, Buggybags Ryan Dyrud, Denise to name a few, the friendships I have made at the event to…. well really too many to mention individually, but you all know who you are.

Even though my time at the greatest kite buggy event in the world has come to an end, I will continue to promote and help anyone I can involved with this great event….seriously guys, its worth selling one of your kidneys, if it means getting there… it.