There are some kitesurf trips that just cannot be refused, especially those organised by Photographer Dave Sims| February 24th, 2007 There are some kitesurf trips that just cannot be refused, especially those organised by Photographer Dave Sims! Now, these trips will always involve many of the following… excitement, danger, wind, waves, outrageous fun, and a big emphasis on a good cause or charity. I first visited Kenya two years ago for the first Kenya Kitesurf Cup and was captivated by the Kenyan spirit, not to mention the beautiful beaches and excellent kitesurfing conditions. I didn’t need much persuasion to return for the 007 Kenya Kitesurf Charity Cup in January this year. This time we would be raising awareness and money for the MEAK Charity in Kenya by taking part in the Kenya Kitesurf Cup themed as a 007 Casino Royal photo shoot. Unlike a lot of Kitesurf Events where profits are made by the organisers this event is unique as the entry fee goes directly to MEAK, which stands for Medical and Educational Aid to Kenya. It’s a family run charity and I was fortunate enough to meet and spend some time with the founders Dee and Mike Belliere who have dedicated their life to this incredible cause. Unfortunately, the event began with my least favourite discipline…the kicker and slider, which I have never really seen the point in! For me Kitesurfing is about air, water and waves, NOT sliding and hitting hard objects in the water especially when you don’t need to! Instead of acting on my instinct not to try the slider, the macho side of me took over and I attacked the kicker and slider with true Bond style to entertain the spectators who had come to watch the event. I was pleased with my attempts on the kicker, escaping with only a very black and blue bum! I decided on one last attempt at the slider on my way in which was beginning to frustrate me. What I didn’t realise was the hard plastic pipes on the slider had began to crack and were now like shark teeth, which when I slid up, caught the rail of my board, then my leg as I fell onto the jagged bit! Unfortunately I couldn’t hear the loud speaker from the beach telling everyone not to go on the slider as Chris, one of the top Pro’s had just cut his hand open a few seconds before my last attempt. Luckily for Chris and myself, we had a doctor in the team, good old Russ who saved us a long trip and wait in a Kenyan hospital and stitched us up. The next day Chris and I, the victims of the evil slider, were invited to join the judging panel, as we were land bound for the next few days. Much to our frustration, we sweated it out in the intense African heat judging the amateurs and Pro’s then aided our recovery with Kenya Cane and coke and much partying till the early hours! Despite my injury, I feel I got off lightly and was back on the water for the Kitesurf fire jumping night which involved jumping and doing tricks over a flaming floating bonfire in the water. Unfortunately, I had to sacrifice my leg to the sea for this exciting session as I opened my cut up again landing on the sand from a high jump…. back to Dr Russ to get stitched up again! Fortunately, one of the highlights of the trip was not on the water but a visit to eye hospital, which MEAK supports near Mombassa. We were shown round the basic but clean hospital which performs free eye surgery to blind people and were lucky enough to go into the operating theatre and watch them perform the life changing eye operations. Another highlight was meeting Antony, a local Kenyan man, confined to wheelchair through contacting malaria 10 years ago. Full of energy and life, making his living through his amazing craft work which he sells in his stall on the beach. Antony has competed for Kenya in the paraplegic Olympics, gaining an amazing 5th in Canada, despite his old racing chair, which was donated to him. During our 2 weeks I became good friends with Antony and his interest in Kitesurfing grew has he watched us everyday. I had bought the Flexifoil Sting power kite with me to Kenya to fly with the local kids and this turned out to be a perfect kite for him to fly from his wheel chair on the beach. Some of the guys on the Kenya Cup had taught him to fly a kite the year before and he was so eager to get a kite in his hands again. We had to hold onto his wheelchair tight to prevent him from being wheeled of down the beach by the kite as he dived it from side to side loving the feeling of power! The NEW 2.4m Flexifoil Sting has been traveling around Africa with me, after a trip to South Africa and Morocco and now Kenya, bringing magic and smiles to people. Thanks Flexifoil! The winner of the Kenya Cup was announced at the end of the 2 weeks, the very talented and lovely Sam Light from Hayling Island, who was my roommate and mentor for the duration. Well-done Sam! Despite not being able to spend, as much time as I would have liked kitesurfing it was an amazing 2 weeks and the experiences and friends I made are unforgettable. Thanks to Dave Sims for his hard work, amazing photography and organising this great event. Also to Natalie and the guys at Prosurf Extreme, Wave Riders, MEAK and the Nyali Beach hotel who put up with our antics and misbehaving! ‘We make a living by what we get, we make a life by what we give’ Kirsty x PHOTO CREDIT: DAVE SIMMS

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