The inaugural MidWest WindFest sponsored by Infigen Energy is now done and dusted for 2017. For this amazing event we have Mick Cuance, Rob Smallwood, Katarina Smelikova and Dave Whettingsteel to thank. It is awesome that this small group with very little outside help managed to pull this off and hats off to them. Events like these have become almost unheard of in Western Australia in the last several years due to fear of injuries and opening yourself up to liability. It is my hope that this event will return bigger and better next year. Perhaps other groups will see that mass participation kitesurfing events are viable and necessary to develop the sport of kitesurfing. They also to enrich the community that supports it. Anyway rant over on to the event.
The WindFest was held over three days and based at Back Beach in Geraldton. Kite vendors set up their tents on the lawn of the Surf Life Saving Club and gave punters the opportunity to demo all the 2018 gear that has just come to the market. For a kitesurfer it’s like being a kid in a candy shop. Heaps of kite brands were represented including Flysurfer, Crazyfly, F-one, Zian, Buzz Kites, North, Core, Airush, Axis, Ocean Rodeo, Ozone, Slingshot and RRD (Sorry if I missed anyone). All day you could find a rep and grab kite to try out in the waves at Back beach.
Each day there was also an event that kicked off when the conditions were best. On Friday afternoon the Big Air event was run. It was great to see that participation was encouraged and for many it was their first time in a kitesurfing competition. The wind was roaring through and there were plenty of contenders throwing big and stylish kite loops. When the finals came a large crowd had gathered on the beach to check out the action. Different groups yelled in support of their favourite rider and in the end Denys Karantonis deservingly took home first prize.
Saturday was the day of the downwinder, this was by far the most participated event of the weekend. It was run down a beautiful stretch of coastline from Sunset Beach to Coronation Beach. So the show hit the road in a large coach and many 4WD vehicles, a jet ski, a rigid inflatable and a quad bike. It was an inspiring site seeing so many kites stretching along the coast all playing in the waves as they made their way north. At Coronations Beach about an hour after the first kites left Sunset Beach twenty two kilometres south they first downwinders started to arrived. As they sailed in the sky was thickening with kites. With well over fifty kites out at one time off Coronation Beach. After a bit of down time at Coronation Beach the next stop for the downwinders was the Burnt Barrel where they ate, drank and laughed until well after the sunset.
The last day saw the wave event held back at Back Beach, however like many of the crew that travelled to get there I missed that event and made the most of the time to sample multiple beaches on the drive back to Perth. I saw kites all along the coast and recognised many of the vehicles on the road that day as having been at the MidWest WindFest. Tired and sore on Monday but with a great smile on my face from a weekend well spent. Thanks MidWest WindFest 2017 and hope to see you again in 2018. ✌🏼
Remember if you want a nice guy to come shoot your next event call Ben Harvey aka Nice Guy and Photographer