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Kite buggy rally and fun-fly. May 18-21, 2011, Jekyll Island, Georgia

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Airial view of Kite Beach Cruising in Buggy on Kite Beach
Kite Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia Cooling off in a tidal pool. They are always deeper than you think. Photo: Mel George
Buggy on Jekyll Buggy on Jekyll

What, When & Where
The JIBE is Jekyll Island's first, and the Southeastern US's only annual kite buggy rally. It is planned as a loosely organized, informal get-together for kite-buggy pilots, but ATB/ landboarders, Blokarts and all traction and power kite fliers are welcome. A Portion of proceeds from the event will benefit the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, located on Jekyll Island.

For 2011 We will again start on a Wednesday so that we have three weekdays with fewer other people on the beach. Jekyll beach is never crowded anyway and this is still pre-season, so we will have a better shot at extended distance runs. During JIBE 2010, some of our best days were on weekdays with clear beaches allowing four-mile-plus runs. Most of the picutrees here depict typical weekday beach scenes during JIBE. Sunday is reserved as a travel day.

Wednesday, May 18th, noon, through end of day Saturday the 21st. On Saturday morning there will be a Triatholon on the island that will use part of the beach, but it will be done and cleared out long before the beach is usable for us at low tide in the afternoon.

Map of Southeast USA Showing Location of Jekyll Island
Jekyll Island is located on the southeast coastline of Georgia, about halfway between Savannah and Jacksonville, Florida (about 30 miles north of the Florida Border). It's an easy 15 minute drive from Exit 29 on I-95 (see "Getting There", below)

The event staging area will be located on a stretch of beach we have come to call "Kite Beach", located in front of Blackbeard's Restaurant, just a half-mile north of the main island entry point. The stretch of beach is favored by power kiters and kitesurfers since it offers a wide area at low tide and is relatively crowd-free. (Jekyll Beaches don't get too crowded in the first place). When the few crowds do clear in the late afternoons, a 5+ mile stretch is available for buggy runs with the right winds (east to southeast is best, west winds are second best).

Jekyll Island is a unique venue. From the 1860's through the first part of the twentieth century, the island was the home of the Jekyll Island Club, owned by America's elite and wealthy industrialists, including names like Astor, Rockefeller and Carnegie. In 1947 it was turned into a state park and to this day, development remains highly restricted, leaving over half of its area and all the beaches as a public wildlife preserve. The Island is home to all kinds of wildlife including alligators and American Bald Eagles.

The island is also a nesting ground for Loggerhead and other species of sea turtles, whose lives, health and nesting areas are now under the care and study of the new Georgia Sea Turtle Center located on the island. The Center is unique and includes medical and rehabilitation facilities as well as a public education program. JIBE attendees may attend a private group tour of the facility during the weekend (during high tide).

I have a JIBE Guide PDF that you can download. It has directions, maps, checklist, schedule, registration and waiver forms for faxing.

If you just want to download the Waiver and fax it to me (number is on the form) prior to the event then you have more time to buggy. You must sign and submit the waiver and put a helmet on before you do anything with wheels and a kite on the beach.

Schedule of Events (preliminary and subject to change)

Wednesday, May 18th
Low tide: 4:06 pm, Sundown: 8:16 pm

12 noon - 1:00 pm

1:00 pm 1:15 - 6:45pm... 5:00 pm - 6:45pm

Dinner on your own

Thursday, May 19th
Low tide: 4:55 pm, Sundown: 8:16 pm

12:00 noon - 1:00 PM

1:00 pm - 6:45 pm... 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm 5:00 pm - 6:45pm

Dinner on your own

Friday, May 20th
Low tide: 5:45 pm, Sundown: 8:17 pm

1:00 pm - 2:30 pm

2:00 pm 7:00 pm 1:00 pm - 4:00 pm 5:00 pm - 6:45 pm

Saturday, May 21st
Low tide: 4:23 pm, Sundown: 8:14 pm

11:00 am Guided Tour of Georgia Sea Turtle Center (Pending)

12:00 noon - 12:30 pm Sea Turtle Release on the beach (in front of convention center site) by the Georgia Sea Turtle Center (not part of JIBE but just FYI)

2:00 pm - 6:45 pm

2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

NOTE: There will be no buggying after dusk at this event due to the possibility of hatchling sea turtles making their way from nests in the dunes to the water.

Buggy on Jekyll Buggy on Jekyll

In this video I am heading south past the convention center watching out for people at the surfline, when a young kid darts in from the dunes on the right, heading right for my path, forcing me into a quick jibe. Loose dogs and young kids with no situational awareness present one of the biggest safety risks for buggy riders here. After the quick 180 and getting set up on a northbound tack, the camera comes back on for the trip back to camp. Kite is a Phantom 18m in 7-9 mph winds yeilding a 23+ mph run up the beach. This is March 10 at half tide. Sure there will be more people on the beach in May, but not as many as you'd think, especially weekdays.

Event Registration

Registration will be open after January 1, 2011

Event Registration will be required for all who buggy on the beach, including land boards/ ATB's & Blokarts (most welcome).

NOTE: There is a $5 per day parking fee collected at the kiosk when you drive on to the island. This gets you lots of convenient parking, clean restrooms and open-air showers. If you think you will be making return trips to Jekyll, the $45 annual pass decal is a real bargain and very convenient (you drive through a special lane with no waiting in line).

Buggy on Jekyll Buggy on Jekyll
Rider Chris Rieke catches a lot of flies in his mouth because he cannot wipe the wide grin off his face while riding the coastal winds of Jekyll Island. Team Rider Chad Golden stacked two Peter Lynn Venom kites one year at JIBE and had a real handfull. Great to see so much ripstop Nylon in the sky at once, though!

ATB Worksop with Peter Lynn Team Rider Adam Bedinghous
PL Team Rider Adam Bedinghous Join Adam on Kite Beach for an informal workshop on basic and advanced board skills.
    Beginner/ Intermediate
  • Getting Started and Stopping
  • Changing Direction/ Transitions
  • Riding Upwind
  • Riding Switch
  • Powerslides
  • Jumping/ Tricks
  • Kiteloop Transitions
      Friday 5/20 at 1:30 pm

What to Bring to JIBE

Getting There
How do we get to Jekyll Island?
It's easy. You will need a car, as there is no local public transportation. Just take I-95 to exit 29 or 38 in Brunswick, Georgia. Jekyll Island about is 15 or 20 minutes from either one. (Exit numbers in Georgia are referenced by their mileage from the Florida border). Brunswick is a little over an hour south of Savannah and about an hour north of Jacksonville.

The Brunswick / Golden Isles Region is convenient to three airports:

from Florida and points south.

From Savannah and points north

Once on the island, you will find ample beach parking, clean public restrooms, water, outdoor showers and easy beach access.

Welcome sign Causeway
The Cuaseway to Jekyll Island is easy to spot off of Route 17 / 25. From here it is 6 miles over the salt marshes to Jekyll Island.
Lanier Bridge Construction
The striking Sidney Lanier Bridge on Route 17 / 25, next to the Jekyll Island Causeway entrance. The convention center and shopping center, familiar to prior JIBE attendees, along with an entire section of Beachview Drive, are gone pending reconstruction scheduled to finish in 2012. Detours are marked on the maps below.

There is major demolition and reconstruction going on on the island, so there will be detours in place unitl well into 2012. See the map below. After the toll collection station, turn left and double back towards the historic district and Sea Turtle Center. At the stop sign, bear right on Stable Rd and then take the first right on to Shell Rd. You will come out by the miniature golf course across the street from Great Dunes Park. Turn left and you will see Blackbeard's Restaurant immediately on the right, with a parking lot overlooking the beach. Pull in there and you will see the ramp with stairs going down to the beach. If you have a big, heavy buggy you may want to use the ramp to the beach at Great Dunes Park. It is just 800 feet south of the JIBE staging area. The construction project will have no effect on the beach and JIBE at all, except for the detours to get there.

Buggy on Jekyll

There is more information about the Jekyll Island Revitalization Project here

The ramp to the beach is about 6' wide. It has stairs, about twenty steps, going down to the beach. It is easy to get a light or moderate weight buggy down by putting a tow leash on the foot pegs and letting the buggy down backwards. I did this all the time with my 75 lb Bigfoot loaded with gear. Going up is not as bad as it sounds. There is also a wider handicap ramp at the new Great Dunes Park 700' to the south.

Stairs at kite beachBuggy Up the Stairs
Bring a rope leash to lower your buggy down the stairs backwards. It's easier than you'd think, even with smaller 16" wheels. Getting your buggy up the stairs is not as hard as it looks, even with lots of gear in it. Turn the front wheel to the side, rest it on your thigh, and go up one step at a time. This way the weight and strain is on your legs and not your back. It works with 16" wheels just as well, too.
Great Dunes Pavilion and DeckHandycap Ramp
The new Great Dunes Park and deck pavilion, immediately to the south of the Blackbeards parking lot. It features outdoor showers and bathrooms with private changing rooms. The wheelchair ramp up to the deck is narrow for a lot of bugs, so you will have drag big buggies up the three or four steps to get access to the ramp to the beach.The handicap ramp on the beach side of the pavilion is 7 1/2' wide, plenty for even the big Ivanpah buggy. The ramp is about 800' south of the Jibe staging area.

There are public restrooms in the lot just to the south, in the brand new Great Dunes Park, and they feature private changing rooms and outdoor showers nearby. Blackbeards restaurant is state-owned and managed, so restrooms and all facilities are public. You can usually get in to use them in the late morning while they are setting up before lunch.

"Kite Beach" is the 1/4 mile stretch of beach from the access stairs at Blackbeard's up to the Jekyll Island Club Pavilion, the next building up the beach. Because it is between public access ramps, it is not crowded with a lot of sunbathers. There is a sand bar here that makes it an ideal spot for kiteboarders and kitesurfers, too.

Buggy on Jekyll Buggy on Jekyll

Jekyll Island & major landmarks. The heavy beige line represents beach sections accessable for buggy runs, about 5 1/2 miles. From Kite Beach it is 2 miles down to the southern water tower, then 1 1/2 miles down around the southern tip to the shipwreck. Going north from kite Beach and the sand bar, you can go about 2 miles before you run out of room as the beach narrows. Jekyll Island landmarks

Buggy on Jekyll Buggy on Jekyll
A pack of buggies rounds the shipwreck on the south end of the island, 3 1/2 miles south of Kite Beach. Photo: Craig Young. The infamous "shipwreck", the remains of an old shrimp boat. Getting to this spot is a popular goal of JIBE attendees. A shipwreck run requires navigating several points of sail to get there and back. Photo: Philip Chase.
Wind & Weather
Perfect winds for Jekyll Island buggying is east-southeast, with anything a few degrees off one way or another still just fine. The beach runs south-southwest to north-northeast. Right at Kite Beach, there is a bend in the beach right at the sand bar that favors a northeast component to the north, and a southeast component to the south.

Anything can happen, but unless we are influenced by a major frontal system, we can expect good buggy weather for early May. This time of the year, we are under the influence of the default patterns that put a high pressure system off the Carolinas with the clockwise rotation bringing northeast or east-southeast winds onto the South Georgia and North Florida shores. It is normally warm enough that the sea-breaze effect kicks in as the island heats up in the afternoon, drawing the wind right off the water for a decent on-shore breeze. If we do not get the sea-breeze, and end up with northeast or east winds, the we can still work extended runs but with up-wind slogs in one direction and fast deep broad reaches the other way.

If we do get a frontal system moving in from the west, all is not lost, but we might end up with lumpy west winds coming over land.

Jekyll Weatherflow Station
The new WeatherFlow station near the southeast corner of the parking lot overlooking Kite Beach provides near real-time wind data and is accessible on iKiteSurf.com.

Wind velocity is normally forecast at 10-15 knots, but 7-12 is almost as common, with 15+ less common but often enough for the kiteboarders to get excited. Mornings can start with light winds, building in the afternoon, usually. For this weekend, low tide and maximum buggy space is in the afternoon. We now have a WeatherFlow station installed right over the dunes at Kite Beach, providing wind data in near real time. You can access it at iKiteSurf.com.

Temperatures in the Georgia summer can be hot and humid, but early May tends to keep the edge off, with average temperature ranges listed as 67-81 F, rather than the 90's or higher that can prevail in July and August.

Of course, there is no guarantee!

Things to do for the Whole Family
The "Golden Isles" region of Brunswick, Jekyll, and St. Simons Islands has much to offer for any family members not into kite flying. Some possibilities are...

There are several options for lodging and there are numerous options for dining.

We have added a map and guide for services in the Exit 29 nieghborhood here.

Contact: Angus Campbell, Coastal Wind Sports, Inc.

Last updated 1/11/2011

Copyright 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 Coastal Wind Sports, Inc.