Kevin Kearny

The kite surfer who was sent flying through the air during Tropical Storm Fay, speaks out about what happened and whether or not he would do it all over again.

Against the advice of his friends, 28-year-old Kevin Kearny decided to go kite surfing during the extreme winds of Tropical Storm Fay last week.

While tethered to a giant kite, kite surfers use the wind to whip them across the water and into the air. When Kearny hit the beach last Monday, a fierce gust of wind slammed him to the ground, picked him up and catapulted him into the side of a building.

"I do not remember flying across the street, I think I hit the sand first, got knocked out and went flying across street from there," he said.

Amazingly, Kearny's only significant injury was to his back. His throat was damaged when doctors tried to induce a coma. But now he says he's feeling great, and would do it all over again. "I regret it a little bit but I learned in the end what's important is life next time i'll be out there but i'll be packing up a little earlier."

Next time, he says he'll take one additional precaution. "I do have a snowboard helmet that's can also be used as a kite surfing helmet. I'll be wearing that for the next tropical storm."

Kearny has about four years of experience kite surfing. He says if he hadn't been knocked unconscious, he might have been able to push a button on his harness that would have released him from his kite.

PKRA Germay 2008

The riders meeting was held at 10:00 am, right on schedule. The wind was offshore so race director Olaf Van Tol decided to go for one more racing event to wrap up the competition so the freestylers were released at 12:00 pm and because the conditions were not favourable during the morning.

The race got underway at 12:30 pm which turned out to be quite a nice race to cap off the Germany Tour stop. The wind at the start was up to 18 knots then it became really gusty and there were a lot of crashes around the safety boats. A lot of racers were getting towed out of control in the downwind and even in the upwind. It took 28 minutes for the first place competitor to complete the course.

Once again the North team dominated the race with a first and second place win for Dirk Hanel (GER) followed by Sky Solbach (USA) and Sami Gali (ESP) representing Best. Although Charles Deleau decided not to race on the final day he remained on top after 10 races, thus earning the Course Racing World Championship title.

After the event, a handful of athletes were seen on the water giving an expression session including Robby Naish who was at the beach along with WBO Champion Wladimir Klitschko who joined in to please the crowd.

COURSE RACING FINAL YEAR SUMMARY:

It all started in Mexico last March at the opening games of the PKRA 2008 World Tour. Right from the very start, the North team asserted their dominance in the racing events with Sean Farley taking the lead early, winning 7 out of 9 races earning a total of 4.9 points.

Teammate Charles Deleau grabbed 2 wins to finish 2nd place with 14.4 points. Sami Gali of Best Kiteboarding came in close at third with 17 points.

In the women’s event, North racer Steph Bridge won 5 out of 9 grabbing the lead early with 7.5 points while teammate Angela Peral crossed the finish line ahead of the ladies in the last three races managing to stay in 2nd place with 10.1 points. Cabrinha’s Susi Mai finished third with 21 points.

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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):

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)

Are you ready to buckle up your kite harness? Attach your safety leash and learn what you should know before choosing a waist, seat or boardshorts harness.

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