TRIO inspires top boarders to fly

Grand Cayman welcomes the first international kiteboarding event to the island this weekend with top men, women and juniors in freestlye, race and big air disciplines.  

It is Cayman’s first kitesurfing competition, which will run annually. The Rock International Open (TRIO) takes place Feb. 12 to 16 and is set to establish Cayman as a fabulous kitesurfing location. 

Kitesurfing is a new and exciting sport combining elements of sailing, windsurfing and wakeboarding. Featuring three separate events – freestyle, big air and racing – TRIO will test competitors to their limits against a Caribbean paradise backdrop that many just dream about. Under-16s will get their own dedicated event, and workshops held before, during and after the event provide something for all to do regardless of age or skill level.  

TRIO is a not-for-profit organization supporting Big Brothers Big Sisters and the Department of Environment Turtle Conservation Program. 

The athletes and organizers alike are looking forward to the exciting action, world-class conditions, exclusive events and the best in Cayman hospitality. 

Organizers came together almost a year ago and decided to stage the first TRIO competition in Grand Cayman to showcase the island to other enthusiasts around the globe.  

“Cayman has some of the best spots in the world for kitesurfing,” said Derek Serpell, director of TRIO. “We have crystal clear, flat, turquoise, water coupled with sunshine, empty beaches and consistent winds. We need to tell people about that.”  

Over the last year, the TRIO committee, made up of volunteers from within the Cayman kitesurfing community, has worked tirelessly to promote the event internationally.  

Almost 50 athletes are registered to compete, among them the current men’s freestyle champion, Alex Pastor, the 2012 women’s freestyle world champion, Karolina Winkowska, and four time women’s race world champion, Steph Bridge.  

Local talents Amy Strzalko, Tynan Klein, Jhon Mora and Maya Ogorzalek will also be competing. 

Another goal of TRIO is to encourage youngsters in Cayman to try the sport and highlight the importance of staying active. In addition, organizers hope that they can raise awareness for conserving Cayman’s beaches and the environment by showcasing its potential to increase tourism. 

For these reasons, TRIO has partnered with Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Department of Environment Turtle Conservation Program, and all proceeds from the event will be donated to these organizations.  

“We’re thrilled to be working with TRIO and we have a lot of very excited Big Brothers and Sisters and their Little Brothers and Sisters who will be coming out to watch the competition,” said Julissa Castillo of Big Brothers Big Sisters. “Everyone’s looking forward to meeting the pros.” 

Serpell said, “Education and youth are very important to TRIO, and a number of the pro riders attending will be going into schools to speak at assemblies ahead of the competition, and we will be welcoming school groups at the beach.” 

The action started with an exclusive movie premier of “With a Kite”, the first full feature kitesurfing movie.  

Some of the pros, including four times world champion Steph Bridge and superstars Alex Fox and Eric Rienstra have been entertaining local school children during their assemblies this week, teaching them about the sport and the importance of staying fit and healthy.  

Gemma Butterfield, education co-ordinator for TRIO, said, “The children were buzzing all day after the athletes’ visit and were asking lots of questions. It was such a unique opportunity for many of them.”  

The competition starts with the racing in the morning on Thursday at the Holiday Inn, followed by the freestyle competition to be held at Barkers and continuing on Friday and Saturday.  

The event will close with a glitzy gala dinner and the official awards ceremony on the Crescent at Camana Bay. The athletes, sponsors and VIP guests will enjoy drinks followed by a three-course dinner and entertainment. 

Limited tickets are available from Abacus for $100. Again, all proceeds will be donated to the TRIO charities. 

Spectators are welcome at all beach events, and both competition venues – Holiday Inn and Barkers – will be set up with food and drink concessions and spectator areas. Spectator entry is free. 

TRIO is sponsored by: DART, Evolving Island, Miller Lite, Z99, Kitesurf Cayman, Butterfield, MCS, Waterman, Appleby, Lobster Pot, Stepping Stones Recruitment, Caribbean Canvas Company, Best Kiteboarding, Slingshot, Fidelity, EPIC Kiteboarding, Wakeboard Cayman, MCS, Shinn, Luca, RedBull, Appleby, Holiday Inn, The Security Centre, Cayman Physiotherapy, Caribbean Club, Genesis Trust and Hertz 

A complete schedule and timings will be posted on the event website: www.trio.ky.  

Olly-Kite-Surfing-S

Olly Bridge is in the men’s race and freestyle events.

Steph-Kite-Surfing-S

Steph Bridge, a four-time women’s world champion, is in the women’s race and freestyle events.