Kitesurfers returning to Cayman

International kitesurfing competition returns to Grand Cayman next year. The Rock International Open (TRIO) is scheduled for the Heroes Day weekend, Jan. 22-25.  

Some of the world’s top athletes in the sport are scheduled to compete, including defending champions Chris Bobryk and Hope Levin. Also due to return are Eric Riestra, Alex Fox and one of kitesurfing’s legendary veterans, Billy Parker.  

“I can’t wait to come back to the Cayman Islands,” said Parker. “I had a great time last year and was hoping to hear about the event happening again, so I’m thrilled that the dates have been announced.”  

“I can’t wait to attend TRIO 2016,” said Fox, Slingshot kiteboarding team’s manager. “The event last year was amazing – absolutely world class – and I am so happy to hear of its return.”  

At last year’s event, hundreds lined the beach at Barker’s in West Bay to marvel at the kitesurfers’ high altitude spins and tricks as they battled to become freestyle champion and earn $3,000 in prize money.  

A modified competition format in 2016 will include three disciplines: freestyle, big air and a twin tip race.  

Local riders, who continue to grow in numbers and skill level, are also encouraged to enter.  

Last year’s winner in the junior contest, Tynan Klein, was offered a sponsorship contract with a top brand as a result of his performance in the event.  

The event raised $10,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters and programs of the Department of Environment. Since the competition, the TRIO organization has raised $2,000 for the Cayman Islands Crisis Centre through another new event, Ride Like a Girl, aimed at encouraging females to come together and have a go at water sports traditionally dominated by males.  

Maya Lewis, director of TRIO, said, “We hope to continue the powerful fundraising results we’ve achieved so far [again] in 2016.  

“This event is about putting the Cayman Islands on the map for sports tourism, as well as supporting local athletes, businesses and charities.”  

She added, “We’re very proud of achieving all of these goals in our first-ever event and hope to build on our success this year.” 

Many sponsors have already confirmed their support for TRIO 2016. Event director Matthew Dors said, “We’re thrilled that companies have signed up again already and many pledged their support even before the dates were announced, which speaks volumes to me about the quality of the product we’re offering, and we hope to confirm more sponsors in the coming weeks to make the event bigger and better and raise even more money for charity than we did last time.”  

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Eric Riestra, one of the world’s best kitesurfers