The orca and the kiter 

A chance encounter with a pod of orca whales provided a special thrill for Raglan kite surfer Matt Taggart last weekend.

A normal Saturday afternoon turned into a memorable moment for Mr Taggart when a pod of five or six orcas, including a mother and calf, came close to shore in search of stingray.

"A couple of the local guys, Olly and Keith, noticed them and said `come on, get back out there' ... to be honest I was bricking it. I know them as killer whales and I thought no way am I going out there with killer whales," Mr Taggart said.

"But I went out and was taking it quite carefully when the mother popped up right in front of me.

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Kitewhaling | Photo: Newspix

David Sheridan, 42, was riding his kiteboard, while lurking in the water just a few feet below was a whale. As the New South Wales man surfed, suspended beneath a large kite, the whale smacked him on the back of the head with its tail.

"It all happened so fast that all I could do was crouch down as the whale swam under me," Mr Sheridan told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. I saw the huge shape and my reaction was to duck while remaining attached to the flying lines from the sail above me".

"The next thing I felt was its tail come up and hit me on the back of the head. I honestly thought I was gone – it was such a forceful blow – but then the whale eased off and I was able to sail away. But my legs were really shaking. I've never been through anything like that before and probably never will again."

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Jesse Richman

After four days of wind, the prize giving ceremony of the Essaouira Kiteboard World Cup 2008 took place at the beautiful Hotel Atlas Essaouira & Spa. The governor of Essaouira came to congratulate all the competitors for their show and thank the organizers for the success of the event.

Thanks to the amazing wind and wave conditions, we managed to complete three disciplines: Freestyle, Wave and Course Racing. The riders of the KPWT have reached a very high level. They are really astonishing on the water. Their performances really get better every season.

The Essaouira Kiteboard World Cup 2008, Final of the Kiteboard Pro World Tour, has been a huge success and there is no denying that we will come back next year with the KPWT caravan. Many thanks to the sponsors who support the event, to the riders who create the show and to the organizers who coordinate this beautiful event!

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