Amy Strzalko wants Cayman to play a bigger role in the world of kite surfing.
After successfully competing overseas, the Cayman resident said there are plans to host athletes here during the next 10 months.
“Kite surfing is an ever growing sport here in Cayman and is very popular, not only with locals, but also Cayman is now becoming a known spot worldwide in the kite world,” Strzalko said. “We are also in the process of organising Cayman’s first international kite surfing competition, too, so that’s very exciting.
“I am very excited to say that there is a group of us in the early stages of organising it. We are hoping to have a local competition trial run in November, followed by the big event some time in February. So watch this space for more exciting news on that soon.”
Strzalko, 33, represented the Cayman Islands during an international meet, called “Kiteboard Tour Asia”, in China and placed fifth overall. The photographer competed on Pingtan Island earlier this month and faced eight competitors, from countries including Australia, Japan and the Philippines, in the freestyle segment.
Prior to China, Strzalko competed in Mexico back in March. Her next stops will be the US state of Oregon in July and Brazil in August.
Strzalko said her desire to compete abroad came after cultivating her passion for the sport here.
“I have been kite surfing for three and a half years now. I took up the sport six months after getting to the Island after realising I needed something to keep me occupied on my days off. Jhon Mora of Kite Surf Cayman taught me, he is a great instructor and has a great team of teachers and a beautiful spot at Barkers.
“I was a little scared at first but then after a few goes, there is a huge adrenaline rush you get before, during and after a session. Once I got into it, I was hooked. I am 100 per cent addicted I can not get enough of it.
“In December, I decided I wanted to take it to the next level and start competing. I was putting so much time into it and continuously pushing myself to get better. After a few nasty injuries and a knee surgery, I decided if I am going to have all this pain lets give it a go. Life is too short and I’m not getting any younger so I’m going to do it.
“The Cayman Islands is like a dream spot to learn to kite, so I recommend anyone take it up here and get in touch with Jhon. Basically, we are spoiled here, it is paradise after all.”
For the record, kite surfing, often called kiteboarding, is a water sport combining aspects of windsurfing, paragliding and gymnastics. It involves harnessing the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite. Kiteboard Tour Asia is one of several events sanctioned by the International Sailing Federation, the sport’s global governing body.
Strzalko said sponsorship will be key in getting the Cayman competitions off the ground.
“We can not only showcase the sport here in Cayman and put on a great event, but also give local riders a chance to compete against some of the best in the world. We hope to gain great sponsors, both locally and big brand names, too, which will interest the big-named riders. I knew I would need support on my journey to going pro through sponsorship.
“Travel and gear is expensive, so any support I can get is awesome and more support is always welcome. My first sponsor was Waterman, the local surf shop, which is my favourite shop on island because it’s awesome. It was such a boost that they wanted to offer support and I am very proud to represent them in any way I can.
“My other sponsors are Evolving Island, Subway, Picture This, Kite Logo and my first big brand is Shinn, the company that makes the boards I ride. This was so exciting for me, I am so proud of all of these sponsors. They all support me in different ways, but without them, following my dream would be a lot more difficult, so I feel very lucky.”