Day 1 of the La Ventana Classic kicked off in true LVC fashion as participants of the Party Island Downwind Poker Run dressed to the nines and loaded into the party bus. Music blared as the bus pulled out of Baja Joe’s and rolled through the streets of La Ventana and El Sargento, accompanied by an entourage of La Ventana’s police vehicles. Sirens blared as the bus approached Hot Springs Beach and music pumped as the Party Island participants clad in costumes of all sorts unloaded from the bus. Glitz, glamor and Spandex galore, their costumes ranged from construction workers, to lifeguards, to bumblebees and more.

As the wind came up, Party Islanders danced as they pumped up their Liquid Force branded floats. Announcer Grom Gormley held a captain’s meeting to explain the rules of the game. Teams of 5-8 would pile onto their float, led by a kite steerer and would have to pass by five pre-set buoys and cut from each a floating bottle that contained a playing card on the 6 mile downwind extravaganza to Baja Joe’s. These would make up each team’s 5 card playing hand at the end of the day.

As with tradition, teams lined up for a mandatory beer chug and photo op before blowing up their kites, loading onto their floats and setting sail.

While Party Islanders downwinded, F-One pro rider Joey Pasquali led a foil and race clinic while the La Ventana Classic KiteXpo kicked off at the main event site. Packed with vendors showcasing their latest 2018 kites, boards, harnesses and more, demo participants were able to test all new 2018 gear from the industry’s top brands. The KiteXpo will continue until Sunday, Jan 21 running from 11am until 4:30pm daily. Brands include: Airush, Blade, Cabrinha, CORE, Liquid Force, Mystic, WMFG, Naish, RRD, Slingshot and Ride Engine. Demo participants who demo from every brand and complete their punch card are entered to wind a new Ride Engine harness or dinner for two at Casa Tara.

At the end of the day, sunburned and winblown Party Islanders stumbled off of their floats ready to boogie down to reggae and play their poker hand at Joe’s Garage Post-Downwinder Poker Run Party.

Photos by Noles Dennhardt and Jason Hudson


Schedule Update: Thursday, January 18th

Note: All Skipper’s meetings take place at the main event site at Hot Springs Beach

10:00am – SUP skipper’s meeting for mini downwinder series. Races from Hot Springs to Palapas Ventana.

10:30am – Skipper’s meeting for foil course racing.

1:00pm – Skipper’s meeting for slalom racing for windsurfers and competitor and sportsman kiteboarders.

1:15pm – Skipper’s meeting for freestyle. Freestyle will start right after slalom.