This past weekend I was leisurely enjoying my Saturday morning, thinking about getting down to some work when my friend Nina came scurrying up to me with a worried look on her face. She explained that she was thinking about entering the Cabarete Bay Kite Challenge and wanted someone to walk down the beach with her to register. She explained that she had never entered a competition before and was a little nervous. Having watched Nina kite over the last three weeks, I knew that she was ready to compete; this girl was ready for the big time!
“Sure!” I said, I was more than happy to ditch my day and spend it basking in the sun amongst some of the best local and international talent that kiteboarding has to offer. And besides, Bozo Beach was a short walk from where Extreme is located on Kite Beach in the town of Cabarete.
After a 15 min walk along the shoreline we arrived at a bustling hub of activity. Announcers were blurting out last minute instructions in Spanish, and the competitors were busily trying to get their kites pumped up. I surveyed all the excitement and took note of a couple of big names in the crowd. I immediately spotted many of the kiters from the Kite Lounge kite school at Extreme Hotel. They were gearing up for a fierce competition.
After the warm up period the event got under way. The start time was only a little late, which in the Dominican Republic, is right on time. This little delay gave me the opportunity to walk back over the sand, clamber over a dilapidated building and tip toe through an expensive resort. Grinning awkwardly at the security guard, I ducked under the front gate, and finally arrived at my destination: Cabarete Coffee … ahhhh sweet sweet organic espresso. As I approached the front door, Patricia, the owner, greeted me. She explained that they were not open yet so didn’t have any food but she urged me in for a free iced coffee. Happily agreeing, I slid into the brightly painted, air-conditioned space.
As I made my way back down to Bozo Beach, sipping away on my iced coffee, I could see the first heat of men’s competitors under way. This meant that Nina would be up next.
The first heat of the women’s event included a great selection of local talent: Claudine Murphy, Kristi P., Katie Bowcatt, and Nina Erickson. I stood on the beach hooting and hollering as Nina pulled off seemingly effortless front rolls, back rools, high jump tail grabs, and unhooked raileys. Katie Bowcatt, only 15 years old, was throwing down some pretty fierce competition as well. Over head I heard a sharp whoosh as a competitors kite came crashing down right next to me. Not missing a beat, I quickly sidestepped the missile and continued my attempt to catch the event on my smart phone.
Next up: the men’s second heat. To say I was impressed would be an understatement. When I was finally finished putting my tongue back in my mouth, the heat had come to a close. I think those boys spent more time in the air than they did on water. Kitesurfing in the Dominican Republic truly is the best way to fly.
As the day came to a close, we had some great results, our lovely Nina picked up second place in an unexpected final round and Joselito took home the gold. In the men’s division.
All in all, the day left me inspired. There was a great sense of community and sportsmanship. The Kite Lounge crew did well and were greeted with cheers upon their return to Extreme Hotel. The next day, the winds were down but no one seemed to mind. With a sense of satisfaction we chilled out all day and celebrated into the night at the after party and charity event hosted by Ojos bar.