MALPEQUE, P.E.I. - Spectators flocked to soak in the vibrant scene of 65 world-class kiteboarders from across Canada riding the enclosed waves and soaring through the sky in a friendly competition at Malpeque Bay for the seventh annual P.E.I. Throwdown, which took place over the Labour Day weekend.
Freestyle kiteboarder Lucas Arsenault from Wellington thrilled those watching as he performed incredible high-flying jumps, rolls and turns over the inflatable obstacle course laid out on the water.
“I’ve been kiteboarding for eight years now and I started just for fun with my brother. We practiced on the south shore in Mont Carmel and had a great time, and over the course I got hooked on the sport,” said the 21-year-old.
“At the time there wasn’t anyone on the Island that I knew doing kiteboarding and aerial tricks, so I taught myself a lot from watching videos online and then testing the tricks out on the water. Then as I got older I followed the wind to far-flung places around the world to pick up skills from professionals. I was in Brazil, Australia, Europe, just chasing the wind.
“My dad, brother and I kite a lot and travel together. We pick a destination in the winter just to kiteboard. And lately I’ve been travelling all year long for kiteboarding, so it’s working out great.”
Throwdown has grown over the years, putting the uncrowded Malpeque Bay on the map as a world-class destination with shallow enclosed waters, a constant breeze and idyllic scenery for kiteboarders.
The event includes expression session (freestyle) races that navigate buoys and the big air.
“We have heats with eight riders and a course set up here around three buoys. The riders have to navigate each one of the buoys while racing, and the top three in the race move on to the semi-finals, followed by the finals,” explained James Manning, one of the organizers of the Throwdown.
Arsenault said in order to learn the basics of kiteboarding, a lesson must be taken on land first.
“Lessons are offered at The Paddle Shack in Summerside, and there’s another school located in Malpeque called P.E.I. Kiteboarding.
“Any board sports really relate and help. From learning tricks in kiteboarding it helped improve my snowboarding, and I mix them all up together.”
Arsenault says he enjoys most the free-spirited nature of the sport.
“Out there I’m disconnected from the world with the wind, the water and the waves.”
Winners of Sunday's Throwdown race:
Men: Ian Deslongchamp
Women: Lauren Holman
For more information and pictures on the event visit P.E.I. Kiteboarding.