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BVI Kite Jam

According to BVI Kite Jam Founder and Partner Charlie Smith, the idea for Kite Jam was hatched a year ago in Cape Town while he and his boss, Sir Richard Branson, were chatting to some kiteboarders about what a great location the BVI is for kiting.

This conversation sparked the idea to promote the BVI as a kiting destination. “Richard wanted to do a race of sorts,” Charlie says, “from Necker to Anegada,” a race that Branson had done before with Larry Page from Google and others. But Charlie had bigger ideas—a week-long event that would include races, workshops with the pros, freestyle sessions, sailing and a little bit of partying. “It was meant to be a lot smaller than this, but it just snowballed,” Charlie says.

 

Charlie indulges his passion. All photos courtesy of Virgin Limited Edition.

Kiting is arguably one of the fastest growing sports in the world, due, in part, to the sport’s cross-gender appeal. Half of the pros attending Kite Jam 2010 are women. “That’s not something you’d see in many other sports,” says Charlie. “In windsurfing or other extreme sports, you see these big, strong guys dominating.” The fact that women tend to weigh less than men means that less force is required to lift them into the air, Charlie points out. “They also listen better when you’re teaching them,” he adds, laughing.

 

Gretta Krusie is one of the pros attending BVI Kite Jam 2010.

The universality of kiting extends to the terrain also. “It’s such a versatile sport. You can do it pretty much anywhere—snow, ice, on a skateboard and on the water.” Then there’s the adaptability on each terrain. For instance, in the water, you can kite in the waves, in wake, on flat water, atop obstacles (or over people and boats, according to some rumours I’ve heard). The events at BVI Kite Jam comprise most of the possibilities on water—timed races, “expression session” freestyle competitions, freestyle obstacle competitions, showdowns between the pros and a down-winder from Windlass Bight to Cow Wreck Bay in Anegada, passing the beaches of Windlass Low Point, Bones Bight and Keel Point. Charlie cites the North Shore of Anegada as one of his favourite kiting spots, telling me of his frequent two-hour rides from Loblolly down to Cow Wreck. 

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His home turf, though, is Necker Island, and he’s loyal to the place where he was first able to indulge his passion for the sport. “It wasn’t until 2004 when I came to the BVI that I had the opportunity to do it on a daily basis,” Charlie says. “It’s definitely my passion.” Charlie’s enthusiasm is contagious to Necker guests as well. “There’s nothing better than taking someone who’s sat on the beach watching and getting them up on the water.”

 

Pro Kite Jammer Chris Burke in action. 

His love of teaching the sport inspired him to include clinics with the pros as part of the Kite Jam schedule. “Every day there are going to be clinics for an hour or so,” Charlie tells me. The clinics will cover everything from on-water coaching to theory to kit maintenance. “There are no other kiteboarding events that do that. [The amateurs] will be taught by people who they have only read about in magazines.”

Along with Charlie, the Kite Jam team consists of members Scotty Wilson: Events Director & Partner, Abby O’Neal: Communications Director & Partner, and Joanna Morris. The team wants the pros to be able to display all their skills, hoping to inspire future athletes. “We’re having some obstacles built at the moment,” he says, adding that he’s eager “to be able to showcase what the pros can do.” I ask Charlie about the gap between the skill level of the amateurs and the pros. “I don’t think it’s very big at all,” he says. “There are some aspiring kiteboarders mixed with some amateurs that are not far behind the pros. It’ll be interesting.” He adds that “the majority of the kiteboarding scene on Tortola are coming,” as well as kiteboarders from the USVI and Puerto Rico.

 

These ladies make kiting look easy.  

While Kite Jam’s schedule is packed with activities, Charlie seems most excited about the race that initiated the idea—the Necker to Anegada race, in which his boss will be participating. “That’s the focus of the event,” he says then instils in my mind the image of “having that many kites in the air at the same time, in the same place.” I look forward to seeing the beauty of our islands enhanced by the beauty of the sport.

 

Visiting Kite Jammers will stay on Sunsail cats.

A portion of the proceeds from BVI Kite Jam will be donated to Virgin Islands Safety & Rescue (VISAR), who will also be volunteering at the event, and Kids and the Sea (KATS).

For more information, visit www.bvikitejam.com.

BVI KITE JAM 2010 SCHEDULE

SUNDAY February 28
0800 Skippers briefing at Sunsail briefing room
0900 Kite Jammers briefing at Sunsail base
0100 Flotilla departs to North Sound & Necker
1300 Flotilla arrives at Prickly Pear anchorage
1700 Shuttles to Necker Island commence and run every 30 minutes
2000 Return shuttles to Prickly Pear commence and run every 30 minutes
2300 Last shuttle departs Necker Island

MONDAY, March 1
0730 Shuttles commence to Necker Island     
0830 Kite Jammers briefing
1000 Round Necker Island race
1300 Lunch at Necker Island beach pavilion
1400 Expression session
1600 Awards ceremony at Necker Island  
1700 Shuttles to Prickly Pear
1800 Last shuttle leaves Necker Island
1900 Dinner & party at the Sand Box
2400 Last call
 
TUESDAY, March 2
0700 Shuttle to Kite Jammers launch site
0800 Skippers briefing at the Sand Box
0800 Kite Jammers race briefing
0900 Philip Stein's Necker Anegada Race
1300 BBQ Lunch at Pomato Point,
1400 Kite clinics and free afternoon of kiteboarding
1700 Flotilla transfers to Anegada Reef Hotel
1830 Kiteboarding magazine village party
1900 Philip Stein Awards Ceremony and Dinner
2400 Last call

WEDNESDAY, March 3
0600 Departure for optional down-winder from Windlass Bight to Cow Wreck
0800 Kite Jammers briefing
0830 Skippers briefing
0900 Shuttles depart for Cow Wreck
1100 Expression session at Cow Wreck
1300 Lunch at Cow Wreck
1400 Kite clinics
1500 Expression session at Cow Wreck
1700 Awards ceremony
1800 Shuttles to Kiteboarding magazine village
1930 Casual dinner and dancing at Potter

THURSDAY, March 4
0800 Skippers & Kite Jammers briefing
0900 Catamaran race to North Sound
1200 Flotilla arrives at Bitter End Yacht Club
1300 Lunch at Bitter End Yacht Club
1400 Expression session at Eustatia Sound
1700 Awards ceremony
1900 Dinner at The Carvery Restaurant, BEYC
2100 Party at the pub
2300 Last call
 
FRIDAY, March 5
0700 Kite Jammers briefing
0800 Shuttles to Necker Island
0900 Freestyle obstacles competition
0900 Catamarans to transfer to Moskito Island
1300 Lunch
1500 Pro rider showdown
1700 Shuttles to flotilla at Moskito Island
1800 Last shuttle leaves Necker Island
1900 Grand prize awards ceremony
2000 Dinner at Moskito Island
2400 Last call
 

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