Kirsty Jones 

For the 5th year running the KPWT Kitesurf Wave Masters World cup took place in Portugal, but this time it was not at the usual world renowned windy Guincho.

This year the KPWT joined forces with the Ocean Spirit Festival in Santa Cruz which is a huge festival of music and riding waves. This year it would also host the Kitesurf Wave Masters world cup as well as the surfing, skim boarding and kayaking championships!

Santa Cruz is a small surfing town North of Guincho and in between the famous surfing coastline of Ericeira and Peniche, slap bang in the middle of endless miles of long white sandy beaches blasted by the full throttle of Atlantic swell.

It’s not a short journey down to Portugal from Wales in my Animal van and as the wind and waves were a bit stingy for last years wave Masters in Guincho I decided that to make the drive worth it I was going to go early and track the wind and swell down all the way from Brittany where I would be stopping off for the annual Flexifoil gathering on the Queberon Peninsula.

With good timing, a bit of flexibility, and a regular up to date forecast we managed to move with the swell and wind all the way through France and Spain until we reached the west coast of Portugal. We scored a few of the classic surf spots on the way and discovered some new places in my faithful Animal van that made me not want to get on a plane again! When we didn’t have wind we had waves and when we didn’t have waves we had wind and when the wind was light we had a Flexifoil buggy and when the waves were small we had the stand up paddle board! Unfortunately we had to kiss good bye to the buggy in France as it was getting a bit too cosy in the van!

Ironically the wind decided to go to sleep during the week of the Wave Masters and only blew for half a day towards the end of the week which meant we were able to start but not finish the comp.

With more than 40 competitors, kitesurf legends who travelled from as far as Hawaii, Argentina and Australia, big prize money, and more than 70,000 people at the event, there was pressure to finish the event by all.

Despite not having wind, the waves pumped in and there was never a dry moment! The Ocean Spirit Festival once again ran the Tri-Surf event after the success of last years, giving competitors a chance to choose from 3 watersports and compete in all 3.

I chose Kitesurfing (obviously!) Surfing and Body-boarding, (the skim boarding looked like it would be quite easy to break your back!) Everyone had loads of fun and certainty entertained the spectators and judges! Even though it was a fun event I found myself getting a bit competitive when I got into the final of the surfing against the men!

As the end of the comp drew close and the wind showed no sign of waking up, the organisers decided to take the chance and extend the competition for an extra two days as the forecast predicted wind and waves.

Local organisers arranged for the show to go on and competitors and judges changed or booked new flights which was an expensive risk to many! As the hours ticked on and a fresh swell hit, the predicted wind arrived late afternoon on the first extended day and the competition finally kicked off. As most people knew there probably wouldn’t be enough time to run the double elimination there was again pressure to do well on this borrowed time.

The heats rolled on until after the sun set allowing them to finish the first round of the men’s and get to the final of the women’s heats which I thankfully was in!

During the night the predicted wind dropped not giving much hope for the wind we needed on the final day. The skippers meeting was at 7am and we all waited anxiously for a sign of the wind which never arrived.

At 8pm that evening a meeting was called and the event was rapped up giving a semi result. The result was 16 joint 1st places for the men and 4 joint 1st places for the women so a very crowded podium! The points and prize money were distributed and everyone dined, drank and listened to a top reggae band courtesy of Ocean Spirit.

I guess the story ends with the reminder that it’s not about the end result but the ocean spirit we all have in us.

Wave Masters World Tour Ranking (after Portugal):

Men
Abel Largo (Spain)
Mitu Monteiro (Cape Verde)
Jan Marcos Rivieras (Dom Rep)
Jesse Richman (US)

Women
Kirsty Jones (UK) (Flexifoil)
Ainhoa Garcia (Spain)
Ania Grzeninska (Poland)
Marine Sudre (Australia)


SOURCE: Flexifoil

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