Mid-May, 2013 – One afternoon while strolling around the streets of Paradise Village (Puerto Vallarta Mexico), we noticed a Mini Cooper go by. Then another. And another. Heck, there were a whole bunch! What in the world? Mini Cooper sightings re not all that common here!
The next morning we went out on another walk, stretching our legs and lazily taking photos of flowers. Suddenly we noticed a group of Mini Coopers lined up in the parking lot at the Hard Rock Hotel resort. Aha! Mark ran over to get some photos, and then we went up to the resort entrance, hoping to find out a little more about what was going on.
Sure enough, more Mini Coopers were parked in front of the hotel lobby. And one little white one had these intriguing words painted on the door:
“Curious of being my pilot? Drive me!” The back window spelled it out a little more clearly: “It’s your lucky day – You can drive me!”
Lucky day, indeed!! Next thing I knew, Mark was signing some papers and I was jumping into the passenger seat of a chic little black Mini while a rep from a local dealership climbed into the back seat and told Mark to put the pedal to the metal. Wow!!
It turned out that Mini test drives were part of the 2013 Mini Kiteboard World Cup competition that was taking place down on the beach. So, after zipping around a few corners and thinking that gee, this was a really sweet little car, we ran down to the beach, grinning from ear to ear.
Minis were on display everywhere — in the grassy lawn and down on the beach. The theme was decidedly British. There was even a red English phone booth overlooking the water!
Our cameras went into overdrive and we we shared a quick “is this really happening?” glance as a gal put bracelets on our wrists and explained to us that these gave us access to the VIP hospitality suite where they were serving free drinks. Really? Was it the cameras? Did they think we were with the press? Who cares! Let’s go!.
It was early, but gradually a crowd of youthful hotties of both sexes began to pour in. Neither of us had any idea what a kiteboard was, but the athletes coming in all had huge backpacks and gear bags slung over their shoulders. They threw their gear bags in a pile while they carbo-loaded at a nearby food tent and then got ready to race.
After lunch, they began to spread their kites out on the grass. Rather than having rigid ribs and framing, the structural parts of these kites all got inflated by hand pumps.
Soon the kites filled the lawn, looking like vibrantly colored prehistoric wings. Then, one by one, the athletes carried their wings to the beach where they were laid out in the sand.
A big crowd had formed on the beach, and the announcer was getting everyone psyched up with an endless patter in English and Spanish, while music blasted a heavy, pulsing beat in the background.
Looking at the angular wings on the beach, it was hard to imagine how they would be used to propel the kiteboarders.
But once they waded into the water and flipped their wings into crescent shapes, we suddenly saw the most beautiful display.
The kites rose up in the air and the athletes were pulled out into the water where they zoomed back and forth at break neck speeds.
There was a series of races that took place a ways out, and at first all the kiteboarders zoomed out there. The kites floated back and forth along the horizon, drifting, dipping, diving and soaring past each other, changing directions and floating freely in a kaleidoscope dance of colors.
A few sailboats glided past on the distant horizon, adding to the beauty of the scene.
We ran up and down the beach, trying to get the best angles on the action, when we suddenly saw one of the kiteboarders fly into the air and flip around in a somersault. Holy cow!! We didn’t know they did THAT!!
And then the challenge was on — trying to catch these guys in the act!
We were far from the the crowd and the main tent, and we could no longer hear the announcer. So we had no idea what was going on.
All we knew was that every so often a kiteboarder would flip up in the air and do a mesmerizing series of twists and turns.
But we never knew when that would happen.
These guys zipped past us, back and forth, and back and forth, at crazy speeds, weaving between each other and making us wonder if their lines would tangle or if they would crash into each other.
These were the best of the best, however — it was the World Cup after all — and there were no crashes or even near misses. But there were no indications of when they wanted to jump either!
So we’d pan one guy as he streaked past us on the beach, waiting and hoping, but then he would sail out to sea and never jump.
Then, just as we’d put the camera down with a discouraged, “Aw, he’s not gonna jump,” we would see a different guy falling out of the sky right in front of us. It seemed that all afternoon we were saying too each other, “Arrghh, I missed that one!!”
But we did catch a few. And we were so excited by the whole thing that we went back the next day to see more.
What a glorious sport. So wild and free. They made it look fantastically easy, and we both wondered wistfully where we could take lessons.
It seemed like an effortless and exhilarating ride. Sometimes they cruised along one-handed. And even when they crashed, it just seemed like a splashy soft landing.
In the distance, though, we could see the Navy had stationed a rescue boat, just in case! Luckily, no rescues were ever needed, and instead they enjoyed the best seat in the house, right in the middle of all the action.
We also caught some of the action on video and put together a little clip. It’s not quite Fox Sports, but it gives the essence of what it was like to stand there on the beach and take in this incredible spectacle:
2013 Kiteboard World Cup Racing in Mexico.