After a few weeks of no wind, the forecast finally looked on for the Kite Pirates Charity Downwinder in Kent, UK on Sunday. The Kite Pirates kite school, run by Graeme Rolbiecki and his team, has been organising the end of season charity downwinder for two years now and the support for the event has gone from strength to strength. It’s an impressive feat when you consider persuading anyone to dress up and go kitesurfing when the air temp is hovering around 7 degrees is going to be tough.

With a NE wind forecast with between 20-25 knots, Sunday was looking like the perfect set up to ride from Westbrook to Whistable. Taking in many of the kite spots on the north shore of Kent, the route is about 24km as the crow flies. However, dodging old piers, visiting sandbars, chasing seals and stopping to take in the view of the impressive Reculver Towers, as well as dealing with a changing wind meant some riders would clock up over 60km! The kiters from all over Kent met on the beach at 8.30 am for a 9 am start and half an hour later 45 kites were headed downwind towards Whistable.

The wind was forecast to drop as the morning went on, meaning kite choice was critical. Riders left the beach with a solid 20-25 knots, but around Herne Bay, the wind died almost completely before picking up enough to allow most kiters to finish. A hoard of kites appeared around the headland at Tankerton a real spectacle for people enjoying some rare winter sunshine on a Sunday morning walk. Some had straight-lined it as fast as they could, making the most of the early wind, others chose to session spots along the way. It was quite a sight to see this many riders cruising down the coast, something we don’t often see here in Kent. A real testament to the community spirit the Kite Pirates have created here.

Even better than that the team raised over £1850 towards their chosen charity, The Kent Autistic Trust, chosen after finding out how much an autistic child enjoyed one of the free taster sessions the school were running at the British Kitesurfing Championships held in Ramsgate earlier this year. Almost £1500 was raised in sponsorship and donations and the rest came from T-Shirt sales, which were made by Born Anxious an eco-friendly clothing brand set up by an autism mum and another supporter of The Kent Autistic Trust.

If you would like to add a donation to this worthy cause you can find the Just Giving page HERE

If you want to get involved in next years event, give the Kite Pirates Facebook Page a like and keep an eye out for updates or ask the team in the local kite shop Boardworx for details.

Tue 3rd Dec, 2019 @ 10:00 am

By Rou Chater
Rou has been kiting since the sports inception and has been working as an editor and tester for magazines since 2004. He started IKSURFMAG with his brother in 2006 and has tested hundreds of different kites and travelled all over the world to kitesurf. He's a walking encyclopedia of all things kite and is just as passionate about the sport today as he was when he first started!

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