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.

Wave Masters World Tour Ranking (after Portugal):

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

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

RNLI rescue

A Fleetwood kitesurfer feared he was going to drown as he was dragged beneath waves. But today Mark Taylor was able to thank the RNLI for his life after a dramatic rescue more than half a mile off the port.

"I really thought I was going to drown at one point," said Mr Taylor, 32, of Queen's Terrace, who was unable to re-launch his kite because of a loss of wind.

He got into trouble while taking part in the popular activity on Saturday afternoon and was ready to abandon his gear and swim back to shore. But he was unable to operate the quick-release mechanism on the leash attached to his board.

He said: "I couldn't get the kite to relaunch. The wind had dropped and there wasn't enough to get it out of the water and I was just being dragged along. It was dragging me under every now and again. I had to turn round in the water and kick my legs just to stop being dragged under".

"It must have been about 20 minutes before I was rescued and I was absolutely exhausted. I realised I was going to have to stop trying to release all the gear so I didn't use all my energy."

Read more ...

PKRA Fuerteventura 2008

Congratulations to Gisela Pulido and Aaron Hadlow for winning Fuerteventura Kiteboarding Grand Slam and to Charles Deleau and Fabienne D’Ortoli for winning the Course Racing event!

The Fuerteventura Kiteboarding Grand Slam 2008 draws to a conclusion with an exciting final day of competition under a perfect Fuerteventura weather. The temperature played between 28 to 30 degrees Celsius but the wind was back in greater force similar to the conditions two days ago.

The wind packed a sustained speed of 22 to 36 knots with strong gusts which made it more difficult for some of the riders to land their moves. And if that wasn’t enough, the strong current also wrecked havoc on the racing buoys set on the course for the racing event. This prompted event director Olaf Van Tol to abandon the racing competition in the afternoon.

“We planned two races in the afternoon. In the first attempt to get a starting sequence, I saw one buoy was drifting so we had to reach for the buoy and fix it. So I went back to check for a second starting sequence then I noticed the buoy on the starting line was drifting also so that caused another delay.

Looking at the time it needed to reset buoy #1, the second buoy would take much longer to reset and in much deeper water. The buoy probably lost its anchor so, given the time, we cancelled the games and called it a day. It was a bit disappointing but other than that, we had a great day,” said Van Tol.

The mandatory skippers meeting was held at 11:00am then the last ten heats of the freestyle double eliminations were held. After two hours, the freestyle wrapped up then a short one-hour break was held for lunch. After the series of technical difficulties on the racing course, the competition was called off at 3:30 pm.

Read more ...

Dimitri Maramenides, the founder and owner of Epic Kites, rode his kite a few hours before Hurricane Florence hit the East Coast of the United States.

+ Kiteboarding News