Matt Sexton of Eckerd College Triton Kiteboarding Club had an idea. He wanted to have a kiting competition among kiters from various colleges. Florida has lots of venues for such a thing but as it was planned for Spring Break, why not have it on Key West? Eckerd College has a tradition of sending leaders out into the world to delve into things marine, here's just one more case.
So, time to mount up and head off to Cayo Hueso or Bone Island.
Photo from 1880's and "The Forgotten Frontier" by Arva Moore Parks
He started making plans, pulling together resources and assistance from The Kitehouse
and X-RATED KITEBOARDING
among other sponsors. So with hard work it came together and riders from about six colleges joined in. There are likely to be more next year. Mother nature wasn't to be left out and catered 20 kt. and higher incredible sideshore winds for virtually the entire week of riding. There were freestyle and slider competitions through the week for the college folks and on the weekend, pro riders and non-students were allowed to enter the comp. for the boardercross as well.
The launch. Click photo for full sized image.
This may be the first collegiate kiteboarding competition, certainly in Florida, perhaps anywhere. So, that gives it something in common with other new sports in years past. A look at some of those other sports will be tossed out throughout the article for contrast.
The collegiate riders get ready to shred into the week
Special thanks to Allen and Daniella of http://www.thephotoboat.com/
for providing low res. copies of so many great images from the complete event. Some of us stuck at work couldn't make it down to Key West until Friday evening, after things had been running for five days. If anyone wants higher res. copies of their images from Photoboat get in touch with them to make arrangements.
Spring Break in Key West and a kiting competition, got spectators? You bet.
Even got lifeguards, with sound!
Another first, University of Pennsylvania's crew team stirring things up with an unexpected day's win at the Henley Regatta in England, 1901.
Enough background, let 'em rip
The wind was side offshore, away from the raft of kiter groupies
Getting backup wind? No problems, just use a kiter retriever. Matt Sexton gives Mike Hall a tow up the beach.
Sean is a hard rider sponsored by The Kitehouse
Baseball breaking new ground a while back at University of Pennsylvania in 1879!
Coming in for a landing
Hamish Macdonald hanging on with ..., I'm not sure what! He raced all the way from Ft. Lauderdale to Bimini on a strapless surfboard last year. Magic of surf wax?
Sean throws one
Early football (American) at the collegiate level, 1880 to 1890. Shown here is the "No Helmet" team with nose guards? Maybe there are from France, the Normans were famous for using helmets with nose guards to protect their schnoz. Nope, that can't be it, even 1000 years ago they knew the value of protecting your lid from impacts, uh and your nose. The "No Helmet" teams faired particularly poorly, lots of injury. The President and major Universities stepped in and got things sorted out with rules and safety gear requirements in 1906.
A shot of a mystery rider going off the slider, sans lid and impact vest! Highly intelligent college guys risking their noggin and ribs hitting sliders without minimal gear? No way, had to have been someone else. This isn't rocket science, look to the past and the future, think about it.
Later on they rigged a kite to this raft and took about as many folks on a cruise down the beach.
The course that Neil Hutchinson with X-RATED KITEBOARDING and Tiki Beach in Ft. Lauderdale constructed ( http://www.xratedkiteboarding.com/
). Neil is an old hand at boardercross having set up many courses throughout Florida and in other parts of the country. Imagine buying all these hotdogs, carting them all over the state, blowing them up, anchoring them, announcing the event and tearing it all down again, over and over. We owe Neil a big thanks for all his efforts!
Neil Hutchinson on the right with Paul Menta on the left.
Paul Menta also sponsored this groundbreaking collegiate event through The Kitehouse ( http://thekitehouse.com/
) providing a lot of input, support and capable assistance from Nick. Paul and Neil set out for a record kiteboarding crossing from Key West to Cuba many years ago. It was a very intense 8 + hour session in incredibly adverse wind and wave conditions.
Starts aren't just for guys either, women have made their mark boosting new sports.
Andrea rider for Viking boards shows off her riding ware
Andrea floats along
Mike Bradley, riding for GK and the illustrated man, rigs up. His has to be the largest and most detailed kiting portrait tattoo that I have seen anywhere! Insignias come in all types, what follows below is yet another from history.
"The First Wound" from Mark Twain's 1880 "A Tramp Abroad." Heidelberg and Berlin Universities were once the sites of SchlÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â¤gerplay promoted through Studentenverbindung. Ritual collection of facial scars was the goal. They even rubbed sand into the wounds to accent them. Lots of sand in Key West, uh maybe we'll pass. Wind is on, no need for scars just hard riding.
The gear, love those mensur goggles.
Images from: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bild:Mensur.jpg
Race is starting soon, best get to it
Let's follow the riders around the boardercross run
Round the marks they go
So many sports and so many starts. There was even a design competition for windsurfing boards shown here. Makes me want to grab a 15 m BOW kite and jump on one!?
From: "Sailboards, Custom-made" by Hans Fichtner 1982
Checking out the crowd ... back to the race
Going at it at Rugby College in 1880.
Great weather and a great time
Nicci, another experienced woman competitor packs it in for the day, the night is about to crank up.
Swing by Mallory Square to checkout sunset and all the street acts
The delivery crew from Dominos Pizza. Got some class there and nary a late pie either!
Strolling past the Key West Wreckers Museum, remember don't get wrecked tonight, gotta ride tomorrow.
Willie Tee's was the party venue for one night. Kite videos and great reggae sounds all the way from Bermuda?
Billy, Tiffany and Matt show how it is at Willie Tee's
So, that's it for the comp. but stay tuned, tomorrow is another day and one for the Flats of Key West with The Kitehouse.
More to come soon ...