Once again Jupiter, FL delivered and the 9th Annual Jupiter Kite Invasion was a huge success. The Jupiter Invasion is the biggest and longest running competition in North America. On 8 out of the past 9 years Jupiter has delivered wind and waves for this competition. Competitors from all over the state drive to this event. Each year the event grows and international riders have gained interest increasing the level of competition and making this event one of its kind. The Jupiter Kite Invasion attracts many people not only because of the good conditions, but because it is a fun and laid back event with good people on a beautiful beach.
This year the main event featured an amateur, pro and master freestyle competition, followed by a pro strapless surf competition. On Friday January 27, 2012, everyone gathered at Kite Beach in Juno Beach for the first day of competition. The wind picked up for about an hour, but then quickly turned offshore, as forecasted. Small 2-3 foot waves were rolling in and everyone got to enjoy the surf on the Jimmy Lewis and Cabrinha stand up paddle boards (SUP). After watching everyone have so much fun, Gary Menk with Jimmy Lewis SUPs decided to run a SUP wave riding competition, the 1st Annual Jupiter Stand Up Paddle Boarding Invasion. The event was a huge success and everyone had a blast in the small waves. The stars of the SUP contest included the undefeated SUP champion Packet Casey, switching between his Jimmy Lewis Stricker 9’5” and Kwad 9’1”, riding waves all the way to the beach and even doing head stands as he rode down the line, and local SUP rippers Charles Dasher and Damien LeRoy, on his Cabrinha Hybrid Wood Series 9’8”, who caught waves left and right impressing the crowd and judges with their smooth style and consistent ridding.
Sunday came around with wind all day long. Competition started early and the freestyle heats were run non-stop. The level of ridding was very impressive, especially amongst the young next generation riders. Luis Cruz the ripper from Dominican Republic was nothing less than spectacular. On the semi-final and final heats he had the crowd going off with huge double handle-passes and full powered low mobes. Without a doubt he won, his riding was on another level. Behind Luis, another Dominican, Nico Suriel placed 2nd and Tommy Fields placed 3rd. Competition was tough this year for the pros, there were a lot of good riders, and these three showed everyone who is best.
On the women’s side I was able to win the final with my faithful all around kite, the Switchblade, because I had all my friends cheering for me on the beach (the benefits of being a local). My good friend and Miami sensation, Alexandra Menk showed off all her moves for the first time ever in competition landing her in the podium in 2nd place! I was so proud of her, this girl has drive and motivation to learn any new trick, so there is no wonder why she did so well. Monica all the way from Charleston, SC pulled through the second chance heat to make it to the finals placing 3rd.
First place amateur division was Sean Buell, who did so well he should compete with the pros next year, in 2nd place Brandon Cordina and 3rd Kai Calder. The master division was a close battle between Mike Carson and Rich Gardner. Mike defeated the master division champ Richie Gardner, and Shawn Cole came in 3rd.
After a short break the strapless wave riding competition started. Since waves were small the judges were looking for an overall impression of riding waves and doing strapless aerials. It is not a surprise that Jupiter locals swept the strapless competition taking all the podium places in both the men’s and women’s pro division. Matt Collins a ripper of many talents showed off his smooth yet aggressive strapless riding style, smacking the waves and doing huge aerial variations on his Switchblade to win 1st place, he even took the time to help fellow competitors during his heats. Call it Karma, but Matt’s strapless riding is amazing. Up and comer Johnny Berger who has progressed at an impressive rate was throwing down to place 2nd, and Jeremy Lund, a favorite amongst the locals for his huge aerials and fast riding style took 3rd. On the women’s side Marina Marcelli and myself were the only girls competing since we are two of few girls that ride strapless. We ran 2 heats, riding both lefts and rights, smacking the waves regular and switch to a final result, myself coming in 1st and Marina coming in 2nd.
A big thank you to Jeremy at Jupiter Kiteboarding for hosting such an amazing event, Neil Hutchinson and Gary Menk for donating their time and efforts to announce and run all the heats, and of course the volunteer judges and organizers. A huge congratulations to the Dominican riders who put on a great show for the spectators, the young Florida rippers for taking our sport to higher grounds, the girls for representing and showing off the girl power, and last but not least the masters for showing us we can rip no matter the age and as long as we want.