The names of Ninja Bichler, Kristin Boese, Patri McLaughlin and Airton Cozzolino may not register with the general public but come the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro they will be the favourites for the gold medal in the Kitesurfing competition.
This weekend their sights will not be on the Copacabana beach but instead they will be focusing their mind on the likes of Keel and Carrowniskey as they battle to become the Kite Surf Pro Champion.
The Aer Lingus Kite Surf Pro competition which will take place over ten days in Achill is the penultimate leg of the prestigious Kite Surf Pro Tour. The events will be streamed live on the internet and broadcast around the world to an estimated 80 million viewers. Previous legs of the tour have taken place in Portugal and Mauritius with the final leg to take place in Hawaii in December.
This is the first time the competition has been held in Ireland and along with the competitors and their teams, organisers are predicting that over 1,000 kitesurfing enthusiasts from Ireland and Europe will travel to Mayo to watch the world’s best competitors battle in their quest to become the 2012 Kite Surf Pro Tour World Champion.
The event is organised by Freeride Ireland and one of their directors is Newport native Kieran Sammon. He told The Mayo News that convincing Kite Surf Pro Tour to bring the tour to Ireland was a major coup considering it has never before been held in northern Europe.
“This is a major coup to bring this competition to Ireland because this is a huge international event with a lot of interest in it from around the world. The event will take place over a ten day period over two weeks. For the first weekend we are expecting 500 to come to view the competition and expect more than 500 for the second weekend because it’s the Bank Holiday.
“The KSP tour comes with a full TV crew and the competition will be streamed live on the internet. The media exposure for Mayo will be massive with an estimated 80 million viewers watching the event,” he said.
Kieran admitted that it has been a ‘hard slog’ attracting investment for the event and is thankful to Aer Lingus for sponsoring the competition. The event has featured on the cover of the airlines inflight magazine and Kieran is confident that the competition will be returning to Mayo for the next two years.
Francois Colussi of Pure Magic Watersports which will host the competition on Achill told The Mayo News that he recently returned from a competition in Sardinia and the competitors were looking forward to coming to Achill.
While the climate on Achill in October may be very different to Hawaii and Mauritius, Francois said the climate does not matter to the competitors and all they want are big waves.
“Yes the temperatures will not be 25 degrees but the competitors know that and are not coming for the sun but for the wind and the waves. There is a big interest in this competition and the competitors are really looking forward to the challenging conditions and the atmosphere around Achill,” he said.
While the competition will be based on Achill, the events will be based around the weather conditions and the competitors will be transported to whatever beach in Mayo has the best conditions.
Francois who has operated a kitesurfing business on Achill for the last three years believes that Mayo has the optimum conditions for kitesurfing. He feels that this competition will be a major boost for tourism and will attract more kitesurfers on holidays to the region. As well as taking part in the competition, the professionals will also be shown the best of Mayo and will host exhibitions for the public outside of the official competition.
The competition will take place from October 19 to 28 and more information on competition times and locations will be available on www.kspworldtour.com or www.puremagic.ie.