(„kiting toward heaven‟)
International Cook Islands Kitesurfing Competition
June 25 – July 2, 2011
In June of next year, some of the world‟s biggest names in kitesurfing will head for the Cooks to vie for the top spot at an inaugural international kitesurfing competition in Aitutaki.
In just a few short months, the Cook Islands Kitesurfing Association has managed to organise its first big event, which promises to catapult the Cook Islands on to the international stage as a kitesurfing destination.
The competition will open with an exhibition event on Saturday June 25 2011 at Muri lagoon. The real thing opens on Wednesday June 29 at Motu Maina Iti off Aitutaki, and lasts through Saturday July 2.
CISNOC, Tourism Cook Islands and Air Rarotonga have already agreed to sponsor the competition.
Two-time world champion Jesse Richman has confirmed he‟ll be competing. The Maui-born 18-year-old is a two-time KPWT champion, sponsored by NPX, Cabrinha and Hawaii Web Design. He took first overall and in freestyle and racing the first year he joined the world tour, and has since clinched gold in international competitions all over the world.
Richman isn‟t afraid to go huge – in 2007, at just 15 years old, he set a new world record for the longest hang time at the Big Air Wind Jam in San Francisco.
Cabrinha pro rider Cameron Dietrich will also be going for gold in Aitutaki. One of kitesurfing‟s biggest names, he‟s not only a skilled rider -- he‟s also been named the sport‟s worldwide ambassador.
Dietrich was instrumental in designing today‟s most popular kite and has linked up with sponsors like Anon, Dakine, Hyperflex Wetsuits, FCS Fins and Channel Islands Surfboards.
The judges‟ panel will also include some impressive names in the kitesurfing world.
Three-time Queen of the Air Susi Mai, one of kitesurfing‟s most notorious female faces, has agreed to judge.
Sponsored by Cabrinha, Red Bull and Animal, Mai juggles competing on the Kiteboarding World Tour and hosting Extreme Elements TV, and she‟s working hard to grow her sport, especially among girls.
Tahitian pro rider Moehau Goold – who has some big-name sponsors including Hinano, Kaenon Polarized and Hyperflex Wetsuits – will be on the board of judges, as will Professional Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) head judge Bradley Price. Local Andre Raoult will act as Race Director.
The whole thing grew from Cook Islands Kitesurfing Association president Teanaroa „Paka‟ Worthington‟s vision to promote the kitesurfing scene here in the Cooks, and snowballed so quickly that even Worthington admits he‟s taken aback.
Earlier this year, Worthington had a telephone conversation with two-time World Champion Cindy Mosey, who‟d just returned home to New Zealand from a kitesurfing trip to Aitutaki.
“She said she‟d been transiting through (the Cooks) for years on her travels around the world for kitesurfing, and finally went to Aitutaki,” Worthington remembers.
“She said, „I‟ve been all around the world and didn‟t realize that one of the best places to kitesurf is in my backyard.
“Her conveying that story made me think – if we‟ve got one of the best places in the world, why aren‟t we doing something about it?”
And so the International Cook Islands Kitesurfing Competition was born, and it‟s turned into something bigger than Worthington envisioned.
Red Bull, one of Mai‟s major sponsors, is sending a film crew to shoot the event, and major kitesurfing magazines and websites have expressed interest in advertising it.
The Kitesurfing Association is now in the process of planning the competition, down to the last detail.
Worthington said the association is prepared to transport Portaloos to Motu Maina Iti, run a daily on-the-hour water taxi service and supply competition T-shirts, lunches and island buffets, drinks, music and a Cook Islands performance dance troupe to turn the event into the biggest beach bash of the year.
The event is already generating support for the Cook Islands Kitesurfing Association, which was this year admitted as an official member of the International Kitesurfing Association (IKA).
Worthington hopes that the competition will work two ways – that it will both promote the Cook Islands in international kitesurfing circles, and promote the sport among Cook Islanders.
He noted that the sport provides plenty of opportunities for athletic Cook Islanders – not only is it a professional sport, but it‟s also being considered as an Olympic sport for 2016.
“Kitesurfing is a great opportunity for Cook Islanders because it‟s a professional sport, there‟s money in it and there‟s a good chance it will be in the Olympics. It can also bring tourists,” Worthington said.
“Cook Islanders can use kitesurfing to launch internationally and see the world and use it to attract people to come here. It‟s a good opportunity for the world to come see us and a good opportunity for us to go and see the world.” – RR
From Cindy Mosey, former world kiting champion, who‟s been kiting in Dominican Republic, Fiji, Tonga, New Caledonia, Brazil, Venezuela, France, Switzerland, Spain, England, Mauritius, Germany, Holland, USA, Hawaii and Aitutaki: “Aitutaki has some of the best kiting I have ever seen. The trade winds seem constant, it is very beautiful and is a short flight from New Zealand, Australia and direct L.A. There are hardly any other people kiting there so it is an amazing uncrowded spot.” She added that the people were friendly and the lagoon was amazing, and said she would definitely recommend it to other kiters “because it is the perfect place to learn new tricks, have the sea to yourselves and is not expensive”.