Kiteboard sailing to take off

By Peter White


This summer expect to see an increase in the number of kiteboard sailors skimming across the waves along the coastline and windswept harbours of the Bay of Plenty.

The sport is on an upward curve, attracting new athletes from land-bound sports and others who have previously tried their hand at windsurfing and other aquatic activities.

The surge in popularity has not lessened, despite the removal of the course racing division of kiteboarding from the 2016 Rio Olympics, after it was earlier given the nod instead of windsurfing in somewhat bizarre circumstances.

Mount Maunganui's Torrin Bright is a leading light in kiteboarding course racing and wave riding, the more disciplined and less spectacular version of the sport than freestyle, that his old Mount College mate Marc Jacobs is a world leader in.

The 21-year-old Bright spent nearly 18 months out of the sport after a spectacular crash dented his shoulder, when he was competing alongside Jacobs on the world freestyle tour.

"Marc and I grew up in kartboarding in the Bay of Plenty together," said Bright.

"He rips it and has been doing pretty well on the freestyle world tour and in the last couple of years he has definitely upped his game.

"That's kind of his focus at the moment but I like to do a bit of everything and mix it up."

The Olympic committee's U-turn on the decision to allow kiteboard racing at Rio 2016 has not changed Bright's attitude to the sport or desire to be the best in the world.

"When it was announced that it was in the Olympics, it was exciting but I was also surprised at the same time.

"I didn't really expect for it to be kicked out again so soon but it's all good.

"We are all still doing it because we enjoy doing it, not because it was an Olympic sport.

"Just because it isn't now an Olympic event doesn't mean that people are going to stop doing it.

"The people I speak to about it want to keep competing and to push the levels and developments of the sport higher.

"Hopefully, everyone continues on with it and then there is potential for big professional events overseas to keep a world tour going."

Bright is more than happy with his comeback in recent weeks following that serious shoulder injury.

A fortnight ago he came second behind the world's seventh-ranked rider from Germany, at Sail Melbourne, the first ISAF pre-Olympic sailing event, in a field of 42 international competitors.

Last weekend, he won the racing event at the North Island Sailing Champs run by the Tauranga Yacht and Power Boat Club off Sulphur Point, the first club in the country to run a regular racing programme for kites.

Bright beat top contender Dave Roberston from Auckland, who recently came ninth in the Kiteboard Racing World Championships in Italy.

"It was super close between us, and we both won two races, but I just pipped him on count back.

"He is a pretty talented rider and of course he went to the worlds and did pretty well there, so it is good to kind of see where your level is at in terms of a world-ranked rider."

Bright is not just a competitor but is also into the design and testing of kiteboards

"It is my job to help produce the products with Ozone Kitesurf. It is pretty much research and development and is an awesome job."

- Bay of Plenty Times

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