Female watersports enthusiasts now have an event they can solely enjoy and literally feel on the crest of a wave. The inaugural Ride Like A Girl event on Sunday was a total success and was even over-subscribed.
It was a women’s only watersports event to empower and motivate women to overcome their fears and challenges whilst making new friends along the way.
There were 33 participants in total and more than 10 on a waiting list at Barker’s National Park and Public Beach.
While a majority of beginners made up the group, they showed courage by trying new and intimidating sports. The more advanced girls had to push themselves and each other to new limits and try tricks they had not attempted before, under the supervision of local pros Maya Lewis, Amy Strzalko and Kiristen Cousins, the event’s founders.
The day started at Barker’s with a warm-up yoga session before splitting participants between the two resident kite schools, Kitesurf Cayman and Hurricane Kiteboarding.
Beginners were introduced to kite flying techniques using trainer kites on the sand before advancing to full-size inflatable kites in the shallow waters.
After two hours of group lessons, the event moved to Public Beach for an afternoon of paddleboarding and wakesurfing but not before another warm up and stretch.
Cousins is a Waterman shop manager and Coreban paddleboard team rider. She led beginner paddleboarding classes as well as paddlefit demonstrations.
Cousins said, “I’d love for more ladies to enjoy the amazing water we have here and use the beach as a venue for getting fit.
“We should all be making the most of our incredible surroundings and paddle-fit is such a good way to do that.
“I’m so proud of the girls for facing their fears today. Water sports are generally male dominated so they can be intimidating but we’ve been able to create a welcoming and relaxed environment for participants to make friends and try something new at this event.”
In between classes, participants worked on their balance skills on a tight rope set up above the sand and enjoyed snacks from Saucha, a local vegan meal delivery company run by Britta Bush, also a keen kitesurfer.
The day wrapped up with a fast and furious couple of hours on Wakeboard Cayman’s speedboat, which took groups of girls out to try wakesurfing, a relatively new sport to Cayman, which sees participants surfing a wave behind the boat.
“We’ve had incredibly positive feedback with lots of the participants asking about the next one and booking further lessons for all three sports,” said Lewis.
“We’ve also received very nice compliments as to how well organized and run the event was which is great. We don’t have a concrete date yet but we hope to do another one in late January or early February.”
It ended with the group heading to Calico Jack’s for a beach barbecue and prizes. They also drew a raffle and announced that the day had raised more than $2,000 for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre, a notable achievement for the first event of its kind.
Lewis said, “I am so thrilled to be part of this amazing and inspirational event. Our Ride Like A Girl women gathered with the hope of trying something new.
“They left with huge smiles, new learned skills, new friends, a new community of women to ride with and tremendous satisfaction from raising funds for a wonderful local charity.”
She added that the most satisfaction for her came from the fundraising for such a worthy local cause. “We can’t thank everyone enough for their support.”
Strzalko said, “We are so stoked that the event was such a huge success. Our aim was to get more girls out on the water, bring people together and raise money for charity. “Having achieved all of that makes me feel immensely proud to have been part of it.”
She added that the fact that there was a waiting list for their first event “speaks volumes for how much watersports are growing here in Cayman.” Strzalko added, “I was touched by how much the community pulled together to inspire other girls to get involved and create what we hope will become a regular event.”
Lewis added that they really appreciated the efforts of fundraising queen Shona Dors, Jessica Turnbull who was the Most Stoked winner, Kamilla Wolar who won the Most Improved rider and Biggest Wipeout winner Alice Narborough.
Lewis said, “A huge thanks too goes to the sponsors Waterman Surf Company, Kitesurf Cayman, Hurricane Kiteboarding, Wakeboard Cayman, Evolving Island, Coreban, Slingshot, Best, Saucha, Miller Lite, Redbull, Peripheral and So-Chlo.”