Blowin? in the wind
By STEVE SPINKS
LOW-flying seagulls had better watch out at Seven Mile Beach this weekend when the inaugural Lennox Point Hotel Kitesurfing Classic is held.
Kitesurfing, which is one of the world's fastest growing extreme sports, is a relatively new discipline involving boardriders being powered by large kites that can pull them on to waves or boost them 20 metres into the air at speeds of up to 20 knots.
The Classic will also double as the NSW kitesurfing championships with the placegetters in each division gaining direct entry to the national titles on the Sunshine Coast in April 2006.
The organiser and a competitor in the Masters division (Over-35s), Ash Woolley of Alstonville, has been involved in the sport for many years.
"I guess kiting is the natural evolution of windsurfing," he said.
"I competed in windsurfing for many years, but kiting can be done as a light wind alternative."
Woolley explained that kitesurfing had gone in two different directions for competition.
"The young guys are following the wake style of boarding with spins and flips and wakeboard-type manoeuvres," he said.
"Then there's the wave-riding style which has competitors purely wave riding on bigger boards with less wind."
Scores are judged along the same lines of competition surfing with gouging, hacking, ripping and slicing encouraged.
Wave-riding is the style that will be contested at Lennox Head, and there's a bunch of locals in with a shot of taking out their divisions.
Alstonville's Alex Lewis-Hughes, 19, is a big chance of snaring the open division, while Lennox Head's Shaun Craike is a raging favourite to win the Under-18 title.
Craike is ranked second in the country in the freestyle style of kitesurfing.
Another Lennox local, Bill Hession, is among the favourites in the Legends division (45 and over).
Competitors will be coming from all over New South Wales, while there will also be a strong contingent of Queensland kitesurfers because the Maroons are using the NSW titles as part of their selection process for the nationals.
Competition starts today at 10am and continues from the same time tomorrow, with the presentations to be made on the beach near the Lennox Head Surf Club between 5pm and 6pm tomorrow.
Organisers were buoyed by the support they received from local businesses, including Agrimac Macadamias, All Above Board, Bennett Hire, Coast and Country Marine, Lennox Point Bakery, Retone, Design Team Ink. and Triple X wetsuits.