Maui Time

The kitesurf crowd comes together for a weekend of festivities at world-class Kite Beach

Kitesurfing is one of those improbable things that humans have figured out. It’s a sport that reminds you how much ingenuity humans are capable of. On any given windy day at beaches around Maui, athletic people strap themselves to boards, harness themselves to the power of the wind and do fantastic things with their bodies and the ocean. Racing at extraordinary speeds and flying high with the salt spray, kite surfers display a range of technical feats at a swiftness and altitude unmatched with other ocean sports.

This weekend, the Maui Kite Fest brings the kitesurf community together to celebrate these exploits, compete and “maximize participation in a non-intimidating format” on the north shore’s Kite Beach. At lower Kanaha Beach Park this weekend, June 1-3, the kitesurf crowd will gather for two days of wind, tricks and racing.

The festival will kick off on Friday June 1 at Rock & Brews in Pa‘ia, where registration will be going from 5-7pm.  On Saturday, the festival will get down to business with an 8am beach clean up, which is – sadly – always needed at Kanaha. The event will provide bags, and festival-goers are encouraged to bring gloves.

Then, at 9am, all the competitors will meet to find out the day’s lineup – who is doing what, and when competitors are getting in the water. Competitor sessions go from 11am-5pm. Sunday will start with a 9am meeting followed by events beginning at 11am. An awards luau finishes off the festival at 3pm.

Kiters will compete in several different categories: race, big air, foil, men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle, and grom freestyle. Race and big air categories are pretty straight forward: athletes will compete against each other for speed and height. In freestyle kiteboarding, (almost) anything goes. In this free-format style, competitors use their kite and board for various aerial tricks. Kiters launch off small waves and wind chop in a display of inversions, board grabs and rotations.

This year, the festival will also partner with the Butterfly Effect to offer a community event at Kanaha the morning of Sunday the third, which will offer kiteboarding, stand up paddling, yoga, a beach clean up, and Hawaiian food and culture. The Butterfly Effect is for those looking for a non-competitive format to participate in ocean sports, and will also feature a downwind paddle event Sunday. The project of local sportswoman Tatiana Howard Maffei, the Butterfly Effect is a global movement to highlight women in watersports with the mission to “share your aloha, BE kind, BE love, and BE the effect you wish to see in the world.” Butterfly Effect participants can opt to be a part of the Kite Festival too.

The event is presented by Trade Wind Events in collaboration with Naish, Cabrinha, Air Rush and Maui Kiteboarding Community. It’s $50 to register to compete.

Photo: Naish