The second day at the Bridge of the Gods Kitefest started with dark brooding skies and periodic rain over the Stevenson event site. Nonetheless, local and international amateur competitors showed up to battle for over $10,000 in prizes and gifts. By early afternoon, the wind built up into the low 20’s and spectators crowded the grassy knoll to watch a diverse show of big airstyle jumps, technical wakestyle tricks and unforgettable crashes. Up for grabs was a week long stay at Vela Resorts and a Best kite as well as a deep selection of kiteboards and other gear by North, Naish, Cabrinha, Slingshot, and Liquid Force as well as harnesses and backpacks by Dakine.
Under a variety of different conditions, the men’s division progressed through three rounds to deliver a talent packed final. Hood River local, Brendan Kerr, delivered consistent slim chances in both directions, a blind judge and a succession of powered back mobes to land in the third place podium position. Visiting from Puerto Vallarta, Anthony Legare wowed the crowd with high energy back mobes, a 313, multiple KGBs and high altitude handle passes to score 2nd place and a Liquid Force Foilboard. Lucas Arsenault ended up taking the day with double S-bends to blind and flawless KGBs with grabs that took him to to the top of the podium, scoring an all expense paid trip to the Vela Resort in Tobago.
The women’s division was a mixed bag of riders from all different skill levels, but the stoke factor was off the charts with women competitors dawning face paint, high-fiving on the water and showing the most stoke throughout their competitive heats. Carinn Skarry nailed some lofty board off one-footers and styled nose grabs to claim third place. Hood River local, Savannah Boersma, was staying up- wind the best in the challenging conditions, scoring the most amount of tricks in front of the spectators with heated raleys and crowd/judge pleasing antics. In the end, the women’s division was dominated by Justi Vonada’s intense kiteloop front/back rolls, consistently landing them with precision and power.
The young guns in the Grom’s division featured an impressive level of competition despite the lighter period of winds in the late afternoon. Andrew McManus scored third place with raley’s to surface handlepasses, and a styled front roll to toe side with a downloop. Thomas Aguierre landed in second with some styled out big air grabs and flawless darkslides in front of the judges. Floridian Jacob Olivier took the top of the Grom’s podium with perfectly executed back rolls to blind and S-bends to blind as well as some styled airstyle moves that wowed the crowd.
The Master’s division featured an wide variety of new and old school riding from the more seasoned group of riders. As the wind through the late afternoon threatened to put a hault to the finals, it was the Masters that bucked up and unanimously agreed to head out on the water and make the best of the conditions to crown a winner and keep the spectators satisfied. Serge Romano scored third with a wide variety of big air grabs and back roll kite loops while second place, Bille Kipling fired off some clean darkslides and multiple big air mobe attempts to land himself in second place. New to the Master’s age bracket, Jeff Takashima eaked out the win with powered back to blinds and multiple raleys to blind.
For those that have attended, the Bridge of the Gods Kitefest is as much about having fun and promoting the sport of kiteboarding as it is competing. This year, the judges handed the Best Crash award to Sarah White for a vicious unhooked raley which went south when her toe side edge got caught on the water and caused a massive face-plant (Sarah walked away with a “crash proof” Sensi Bikini and free kite repair from The Dangler for a year). The Sportsman award went to Aymeric Martin for a last minute heat swap with a fellow competitor who was having kite trouble, ensuring that everyone got a chance to compete. The Overall Stoke Award went to Kenzie Carlstrom because of her ever-present smile and unmatched energy in even the most challenging conditions of the day.
After five years of tirelessly organizing The Bridge of the Gods Kitefest, Tony Boldstad is stepping to the side, handing over the behind the scenes organization duties to the more-than-capable Rich Sabo. In its 15th year, the Bridge of the God’s Kitefest is one of the longest standing events in kiteboarding.