Report by Kathrin Borgwardt – Head Coach and coordinator of the Kite Kids Project
You can’t imagine a better spot and playground in front of your house than the kids have on Rarotonga and Aitutaki. It would be a shame not to use it for kiting – shallow warm flat water, constant wind and huge space with only very few other kiters.
Parents, teachers and sailing coaches were equally excited to get the kids kiting. We started with 2 days in Rarotonga, supported by Teanaroa Paka Worthington head of the Cook Kiteboarding Association and the local kite centre “Kitesup” at Muri Beach, at which we started with an afternoon of power kiting for 16 kids from the local sailing club.
None of the kids had ever flown a kite before, but knew a lot about the wind through their sailing experience. After some theory about the wind, how to setup the kites, conditions to check before kiting and how to release the kite in emergency. The bay soon filled up with red and grey Cabrinha kites and the parents and instructors of Kitesup never got tired of helping to re-launch the kites when they dropped into the water.
On the second day we continued with 8 kids for full water sessions and used for first time ever our travel kit of tube kites and harnesses sponsored by Cabrinha. The Cabrinha Vectors do an amazing job for teaching the kids, as they are easy to launch, even in light wind. The kites are stable and easy to fly, even with short arms the kite and bar are very easy to use. Unfortunately we had only 5 knots of wind in the morning, but with having a day off from school the kids still learned all about tube kites, how to set it up, how to use the quick release and how to do a self-rescues. The wind picked up in the afternoon and catching the breeze, it was amazing to see how fast the kids learnt to fly the kites up to body dragging. The whole bay could hear the yelling and fun being had by the kids as they were pulled by the kites through the water as they mastered body dragging. The coaches of the sailing club assisted us while teaching and will continue the work after we are gone. Almost until sunset we used the last breeze of wind to get all kids successfully body dragging, so that they are ready learn the board starts on the next windy day.
The sailing club in cooperation with Kitesup Rarotonga want to establish a Kite Kids Club and were very happy about the sponsored Ozone Ignition trainer kites and 2 Cabrinha boards the KTA was able to leave them as a start for their club equipment.
As hard as it was to leave a place like Rarotonga we had to get next stop and next round of the KTA Kite Kids in Aitutaki. Aitutaki is located in a huge lagoon together with 15 other islands (called Motu locally) one of which was Honeymoon Island. Honeymoon is a perfect playground for kiting and teaching as the beach offers a big space to fly trainer kites. The lagoon itself is protected by an outside reef, giving knee-to waist deep water with a sandy bottom to allow for safe learning conditions and fast progress. Big thanks to Tony Jesse who had already started to set up a local kids club of 14 kids who could already perfectly handle the power kites and could not wait to jump with us into the water.
Laughter and smiles on the water said more then words and on both days as further local kids joined the KTA sessions to give 21 kids fun out on Honeymoon Island both with power kites sessions and many hours on the Cabrinha Vectors in the warm water. If that was not enough there were also games, BBQ lunch and coconut drinks under the palm trees prepared by the parents to complete the experience.
We hope this will be the first of many weekends to come for the kids and we are sure it will be with the strong local support from Wet & Wild Water Tours, Quentin and Tony Jesse our local instructors and other local kiters that will help take the kid’s weekends out to Honeymoon Island. Hopefully by next year we will even be able to see our first kids kite race even which would make all the hard work more than worthwhile.
We were able to help the kids club in Aitutaki also with 2 boards sponsored by Cabrinha for them. Also in addition to the perfect days of the KTA Kite Kids training, all the kids left proudly with their Kite Kids t-shirts sponsored by Maelstorm who have been supporting the project all season. The Kite Kids also joined the awards ceremony to receive their certificates along with all the other riders and winners of the Manureva KTA Cook Islands Aquafest giving them the full experience of being part of a kiteboard competition event.
As we left it was great to see how ‘kite fever’ had taken over and in a few weeks’ time there was a schools kite making competition being planned to build and fly a kite out of recycling material. This is being organised by the local school principal Gene Bartlett as part of the kids school activities. We are expecting many updates from the Cook Islands as such is the excitement for the two new established kids clubs and we will follow the news on our site for you https://www.facebook.com/pages/Kitekidstour/153384178147419?ref=ts&fref=ts so you can see how the champions of the new generation progress and hopefully even learn their first tricks soon!
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