After four seasons of coaching at REAL I still end each year with a bit of sadness. It’s hard to say goodbye too so many great people and even harder to part ways with my beloved Cape Hatteras. Still, I have found there is no better way to recharge the batteries than by taking some solid R&R and a few months of warm Caribbean air. After running through a long list of options and variables one considers when taking an extended kite vacation, Dominique and I finally decided to settle in Cabarete for the winter.
In the process of planning for our trip we came across what looked like an awesome competition, the second annual Kiteboarding for Kids Charity event, held on Feb. 12th-14th 2010. The idea of the competition is to get lots of great riders together, enjoy a weekend of fun in the sun and raise as much money as possible for local Dominican charities that work to better the life of young Dominican kids. The event is hosted by Laurel Eastman and includes a long list of sponsors ranging from local business to industry leaders like Slingshot Kiteboarding. Every rider is encouraged to earn as much money as possible for the cause and all of it goes straight to the local organizations.
From the moment we learned about the event Dominique and I knew we had to be a part of it! We immediately contacted the event planners and I was honoured when they presented me with the opportunity to help judge the event. Dominique wasted little time creating her fundraising webpage and buckling down to perfect her trick list. She was one of the first to sign up for the event and a top female fundraiser. She personally raised nearly $900 for the event!
Day one of the event was blessed by the wind gods! The wind picked up early and the speed trials kicked off with tons of stoke. The rules were simple; four racers at a time out to an upwind buoy and back to the beach with the first two riders advancing to the next heat. All the heats were nail biters as riders had to make several tacks before rounding the upwind buoy. The REAL story however was in the women’s heats. Dominique charged it on her new 2010 Naish Haze easily advancing through a well stacked heat and into the finals! The final was an epic one and had the whole beach on their toes as the start was quite messy for most all the girls. When the minor chaos was sorted Dominique charged through the macking shorebreak, racing to make up a half lap difference between her and the leader. After passing several competitors on the way to the upwind buoy she found herself just behind the leader as they both blazed for the beach. In the last 100 feet of the race Dominique lit the afterburners on her 12 meter Naish Helix! All the Dominican boys were in an uproar as she blew by the leader and calmly stepped onto the beach in first place as if she had planned it that way from the beginning!
The next two days we were not so lucky with the wind, but in true DR fashion the stoke continued and the waves pumped! Taking full advantage of the raging Cabarete shorebreak all the competitors charged it and the heats continued in the form of bodysurfing and body boarding events. After all, Slingshot donated 24 brand new Fuels to the event and the Dominican kids had to win their prizes somehow. I have to say that watching the girls and 60 pound kids charge the head high shore break was quite something to behold!
In the final hours of the competition the wind kicked up just enough for the women’s and juniors freestyle event. Dominique made the most of the less than perfect conditions and once again came out the victor! Her stellar performance in both events earned her the new title of KB4K Women’s Overall Champion and spawned more than a few crushes! Dominique Granger is now a household name down here and little DR boys are still calling “mi amore” everywhere we go!
Overall the event was a blast for everyone involved! In the end over $20,000 dollars were raised with every penny being donated at the closing ceremonies to local charities that help less than fortunate kids in the area. Dominique and I have also been volunteering with The DREAM Project, one of the receiving organizations. Personally my work at the contest, and with the DREAM Project, has been more rewarding than just about any session I’ve taken. Seeing the smiles on the kid’s faces, and the love they can give back has been amazing!
It’s been a great winter and I know that we will continue to return to the event year after year with high hopes that it continues to grow. But for now Dominique and I can hear the Slick, The Cove, and perfect SW calling our names! Cape Hatteras, here we come!!