Planet Of The Apes Kiteboarding Downwinder

REAL team rider Brandon Scheid was recently featured in The Kite Show talking about the amazing “Planet Run” which is one of Cape Hatteras’ most famous downwinders. In light of the feature I caught up with REAL co-founder Matt Nuzzo to ask him a few questions about the history behind the spot and how it all went down! Watch the clip from the kite show below and check out the interview with Matt below.

How did you find the spot?
Matt: It was the summer of 2001 and we had typical summer SW conditions in Cape Hatteras, insanely windy day after day. We had been riding The Slick all summer. At that time, everyone that was kiting was riding at Kite Point. We’d sneak out and come up to the tri-villages to ride in “The Slick”. We’d launch from random places and kite downwind to what is now the REAL Slick. We were obsessed with the noise your board made from riding through such flat water, not to mention it was a lot easier to land tricks. At the time there were a few people that were not too pleased with us kiteboarding in The Slick, and we figured there had to be some more spots around.

We decided to go on the hunt and do a big downwinder from Avon and trace the coast looking for flat water canals and islands. We headed downwind hugging the coastline and exploring. The wind was kind of light so we were just cruising down looking for spots. When we came round the backside of the slick at the Planet, we knew we’d found something special! It was perfectly set up to ride in a SW wind, it was twice the size of The Slick, and you could ride it in both directions. The wind was light so we kept cruising down wind and planned to come back with everyone else.

The next day we came back with a bunch of our original crew (Lucie Nuzzo, Trip Forman, Jason Slezak, Llew Simmonds, Justin Souter and myself) and we brought a ski down with Michael Williams who shot photos on a state of the art camera with slide film.

Where did you land when you finished?
Matt: We rode the Planet and kited until we couldn’t move! After that we kited downwind through The Slick and finish up landing down where the DQ is now.

What gear were you riding?
Matt: The first day I was riding a Wipika 5.6m(Projected. Take a shot!) Free Air 2 line. The second day I rode a Wipika 8.9m Free Air 2 line. The board was a Wipika Apocalypse 134. It was basically a Picklefork rip off with wake boots. The bar was a 2 line carbon stick wrapped in hockey tape with a long windsurfing loop to hook into and 30m lines.

How did The Planet get its name?
Matt: After we rode it that second day we were just joking around talking and laughing about how far out there it was. Trip made a comment that “It’s so far out there that if you break down it’s gonna be like you were one of the survivors on the spaceship in the Planet of the Apes movie. Like how the f#%^&*ck am I gonna get out of here?!” He was even talking about gorillas on horses with rifles running around hunting kiters – pretty funny stuff. We were also were doing these unhooked one handed ape hanger airs at the time, so that trick combined with the Planet of the Apes reference made the name stick almost immediately.

How did it become popular from there?
Matt: We had some photos that we sent out to the mags and put some on our website. We weren’t secretive about the spots as we were finding them because there was no need. We would tell people about it but nobody knew where it was and no one wanted to go there. In those days we broke down a lot. You would lose your kite 3 or 4 times a session so it wasn’t a great spot if you weren’t that confident in the friends you were kiting with! We carried on doing the downwinder for years and as the gear got safer and more people started kiteboarding – it gradually became a more popular spot.

Matt Nuzzo's 2nd Session Kiteboarding At Planet of the Apes
Discovery sessions kiteboarding at Planet of the Apes.
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