Competitors and spectators from around the world were blessed with steady wind and sun – perfect conditions for the annual watersports event organised by the Cook Islands Kitesurfing Association.
The final event was the Aquafest Day on Friday, where the local community participated in friendly Stand Up Paddleboard (SUP) and swimming races and also the apnea breath swim – who can swim the farthest whilst holding their breath.
A highlight of the week was the ‘Battle of the Pros’, where international professional kiteboarders Ewan Jaspan from Australia and the current global Kitesurfer of the Year and New Zealand’s number one, Marc Pierre Jacobs, went head to head in an exhilarating display of technical freestyle moves, including gymnastic rotations and huge aerial jumps.
Aside from the big names, Brynn Acheson-Nooroa, President of the Cook Islands Kitesurfing Association, said she was proud to see the progression of local youth kitesurfers from Rarotonga and Aitutaki.
“Our young people represent the future growth of kitesurfing, which is a new, dynamic watersport,” she said.
“With Twintip Bordercross now a new competitive event at the Youth Olympics, this demonstrates how popular kitesurfing has become already, considering it only originated in Hawaii almost 20 years ago.
“Kitesurfing has the potential to grow into a sport that is accessible to anyone, at any age, and I’m delighted to see how fast our youth athletes, including Dylan Mussel and Quinton and Chakyl Schofield, have developed under the coaching of international kiteboarders who visit the Cook Islands regularly for our pristine conditions.
A crowd favourite during the week was the ‘Round the Motu’ race where kitesurfers flew across the water at top speed around Motu Tavake.
The winners included Glenn Bright of New Zealand and Quinton Schofield Sr of Aitutaki (Men’s); Danni Ford of New Zealand, Eva Petrikova of Czech Republic and Lisa Kroenig of Germany (Women’s); and Quinton Schofield Jr (12) of Aitutaki, Dylan Mussel (13) of Rarotonga and Eve Skewes (12) of New Zealand (Youth).
Manureva Aquafest 2018 was only made possible with sponsorship from Bluesky Cook Islands and Cooks Island Tourism, along with generous support from Air Rarotonga, Maritime Cook Islands, KiteSUP, Raro Weld, Sea Change Villas, South and Koka Lagoon Cruises.