Cayman’s world class kitesurfer Jhon Mora has ambitions of one day being at the pinnacle of his sport – and he is gradually achieving that.
The 32-year-old Colombian who competes under the Cayman flag, has done exceptionally well this year.
It started with the inaugural kiteracing event in Cayman, in February. Mora was third and the winner, Riccardo Lecesse, is now ranked world No.2.
Then in March he went to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico where he placed third. Sherman Island, San Francisco was next which is one of the biggest events in the States with competitors from Canada, Uruguay, Spain, Italy and from all over the US.
Mora finished second before going to Medemblick, Holland for the Euro Cup, finishing sixth.
This event was the first step to getting kite racing into the Olympic Games in Tokyo 2020 and at the International Sailing Federation World Games.
“Just the top 20 in the world qualify for these type of events and at that point I was 14th in the world rankings,” Mora said.
He crept up to ninth and was really happy to accomplish his short-term goal, to be in the top 10 and keep promoting the Cayman Islands as a great destination for kite boarding.
Now he is training for my next three events in Europe, the first is in Gizzeria, Italy next week. Then it’s the world championships in Istanbul, Turkey.
He will finish at the European Championships in Poland, then it’s a return across the Atlantic to San Diego for the North American championships.
Mora is satisfied with his present ranking and expects to climb higher because new equipment has been introduced to kite racing which he feels suits his stocky body shape better than the taller, lighter athletes.
“This equipment allows you to be a little heavier so you can move faster,” Mora said. He is around 182 pounds and the other elite competitors are all around 165-170 pounds.
“When the wind got light it was an advantage for them, but with this new equipment, it’s a whole different game.”
The new kites are not inflatable like before but made of foil and are aerodynamically better. The fins on the board have changed to his advantage too, Mora said. He feels he knows better than most because he is sponsored by Main Line, a kite boarding company based in Hawaii and does research and development for them.
A resident here for almost six years, he converted from windsurfing, where he was an instructor in Colombia, to kite boarding some time ago. He lived in Peru for a while before reaching here.
When in Cayman Mora’s income comes from running Kitesurf Cayman school, instructing enthusiasts. So effective has been his training that four years ago Amy Strzalko was a complete novice who tried it out of curiousity. She is now a professional kitesurfer.
“We’re very happy to have more and more people kite boarding every year and I can see as a result of me travelling around the world and representing the Cayman Islands it’s getting its name out there,” he said.
“I’m showing to the world that Cayman is a great spot for kite boarding. Not many places in the world has what we have here.”
Mora feels that geographically Cayman is perfectly placed to attract the American market as well as people from Panama, Honduras and many other regional hubs.
He wants to inspire whole families to come to Barker’s, East End and Seven Mile Beach to kite board and the ones not interested in the sport can go shopping, see the sights and enjoy the fabulous restaurants and beaches.
Mora funds himself on his travels and relies on the generosity of friends who help out financially.
He hopes that the government and particularly the Department of Sports and the Ministry of Tourism can see the potential of promoting kite boarding here because participants tend to be in the high income bracket.
Last month he went to Cape Hatters in North Carolina which is the most popular kite boarding resort in the US.
“The water there is brown, cold and muddy,” Mora said. “Here, it’s beautiful, turquoise water, the temperature is great, the winds are more consistent and the beaches are far nicer.
“That is the reason that motivates me to keep pushing Cayman. That’s why I went there, to see one of the most important kite places in America and compare.