I'm a bad person for abandoning you, my lovely blog readers (hi mum!) for so long. But I'm back! In February we hosted the first kiteboarding competition here in Cayman, The Rock International Open (TRIO), and I've spent the last month trying to catch up on, well, everything...
By the time we got back from our skiing holiday, we only had a few days to finalise the details before athletes started arriving for TRIO, kicking off on February 12th. Nearly 50 of the world's top pro's travelled from all over the world to check out our little piece of paradise, and have a stab at winning the $30k prize kitty up for grabs in the freestyle, racing and big air competitions.
So we had everything organised and we had all of the competitors, however, sadly for the first couple of days we didn't have any wind. :( But that's just the thing with this sport, as awesome as it is when you're doing it, we're completely at the mercy of Mother Nature - and as reliable as the wind is in Cayman in February , she just didn't want to play. Luckily for us, kiters are an understanding bunch and Cayman has plenty of amazing things to offer new visitors. We had a few fun days of paddle boarding, wake boarding and swimming with the stingrays and it was awesome for us as organisers and for other members of the local kiting community to get to know some of the riders who were such a pleasure to host - Alex Pastor, Alex Fox, Eric Rienstra, Hope LeVin, Billy Parker, Chris Bobryk, Hendrick Burgers, Karolina Winkowka and Chris Lazinski were among the kiting royalty that graced our shores and who I'm now honored to call friends.
Eventually though, the wind did blow and we managed to run a couple of kite racing heats, before it picked up enough to run the freestyle as well. Time constraints forced us to change the format to that of 3 "expression sessions" for the U16's, males and females which meant that the hundreds of spectators lining Barkers were treated to 3 hours of spectacular action. The U16's saw 3 locals battling it out for first place before Tynan Klein took the gold. Then it was over to Hope, Amy and myself to kite for the female title. Having been averaging 2-3 hours of sleep a night in the preceeding days and running around trying to organise everything for the event, I perhaps hadn't prepared myself for the competition as well as I could and, in hindsight, I really wasn't focused on the task at hand. But my god was it fun. My first competition! It was absolutely incredible to compete in front of a home crowd including many of my friends who listen to me talk about kiting all the time, but have never actually seen me do it, and in front of all the amazing international riders and industry legends. We could hear Alex Fox emceeing from the water and I had a giant grin on my face for the entire session. I tried to throw some tricks to impress the judges and the crowd but maybe I was nervous or the excitement and adrenaline of the occasion got the better of me but for some reason I just couldn't seem to land anything! I also completely forgot to throw a whole bunch of tricks that could have scored me some extra points and kept the spectators interested, but as I said, I wasn't really concentrating! I'll chalk that one up to experience and have more of a game plan next time...
In the end - I came out in 3rd place! Yay! Congrats to Hope who took gold and is riding so well at the moment and fellow Cayman Kite chick and Waterman rider Amy Strazlko on her silver. It was an absolute honor and so much fun competing with you both!
The boys put on an incredible display in their heat with Chris Bobryk throwing down an unbeatable score to finish ahead of Billy Parker and Eric Rienstra. So inspiring to watch and ride with those guys!
I have so many great memories from the events, not to mention so many new kite buddies around the world but my standout moment was when I came in from my heat and Chris and Eric welcomed me back onto the beach with a high five. Four years ago I moved to Cayman, barely able to land a back loop and Amy and I spent the season egging each other on to try a kite loop. And here I was having competed in an international kite competition, which I helped to organise, on my local beach, with absolute legends giving me a high five at the end of it. Dreams really can come true.