A blog by Alicia LaRue
Time to unhook, sit back and enjoy the ride. Windfest 2016 at Nitinat lake is all about one word… FUN!! Time for some epic kiteboarding, crazy partying and an all-around good time. Windfest started years back by the good folks at Elevation but petered out for a couple of years. It was brought back by Luke Acker aka Skywalker three years ago, and now stands strong with a solid group of organizers and has grown in to something really special.

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You know you had a good weekend when your face is burnt to a crisp, hair has random deadlocks and every muscle in you body hurts (mostly the ones by your neck) from partying on the beach. Including the Canadian twintip racing championships, big air, strapless freestyle, and a twintip freestyle, Windfest is a three day event. The setting for this year’s Windfest was perfect — wind and sun at your face with a beach lined with colorful kites, turquoise water and lots people with smiles. Brendan “Golden Rule” Hessels, MC of the event, entertained the crowd with his quick witted humour. Not only does “Gold Rule” know about kiteboarding but he knows every competitor and heckled everyone of them on the water.. pushing the competitors to go bigger and pull out tricks that they have never done before.
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The weekend started out with the Ocean Rodeo sponsored One Design Racing. Every competitor, all on a even playing field, raced on an Ocean Rodeo Duke and flew an Ocean Rodeo Flite. It was thrilling to watch the competitors DUKE it out! Having the buoys lined up right in font of the beach for the Salem portion added to the spectator experience. We watched as competitors wove through the course on Ocean Rodeo’s flite of beautifully colored and performing kites as the audience hooted and hollered from the edge of there seats. Highlights were the Men’s twintip finals where all the competitors were neck to neck but it was close between Mark Bavis and Scotty Barns, with Scotty taking the win being within a kite distance of one another. Also, forever etched in everyone’s brains was the image of Tony Litke (Windfest tights wetsuit winner) in his red speedo.. it takes balls to pull that one off.
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The Big Air, freestyle, strapless freestyle did not disappoint! Spectator satisfaction to the max! All the competitors were more then just competing for the epic Sheep trophy (biggest wipeout). The competitors were all entertainers on Nitinat Lake, the stage of scenic wilderness. From Mark Bavis miraculously sticking every unfathomable trick on the new Beachdog Skim to Graham Harney hucking it huge on his Ocean Rodeo Duke, it was apparent that the art of strapless riding has been elevated to new heights. As a female kiteboarder, this years Windfest was nothing short of inspirational, Marie Leclerc (windfest 2016 Queen of the Lake) stepped it up to ridiculous heights for female riding. Layne Mullard (Windfest 2016 king of the lake), entertained the spectators in giving his all in every event… off and on the water — there is there nothing that guy can’t do!!
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Daytime was clearly amazing… nighttime as well — although wasn’t as clear (thanks Cariboo Brewing), but it was just as epic! From watching a comet storm in the sky to dancing on the beach with live music and a booming fire, acquaintances turned into good friends and everyone was in for dancing and good times. Live music by Dug Nugget set the stage for good vibes while people in random costumes from a taco to a warrior all got their groove on. Windfest is more than just a celebration of the wind, to me, it’s a celebration of community — a community that has been brought together by the wind. This year, I’m sure everyone can say Windfest was some of their favorite times of the summer. Thank you so much to all of the organizers and sponsors for putting on this amazing event! Until next year — kite on!

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