The biggest kiting event in WA...
Every year, just after the excitement of New Years and Christmas, Kitesurfers around Australia look forward to the biggest event in kitesurfing - Kite Stock.
In a tiny town called Dongara, just south of Geraldton in Western Australia - most of Australia's kitesurfing importers and retailers are currently roughing it out on a white sandy beach, with crystal blue water and 25 knots every afternoon. Usually it contains a touch over 2000 people, but during Kitestock - the population spikes up a few hundred, especially when you count kite surfers, wives, children and friends. Along with the biggest gathering of retailers and importers - it's a great chance for kite surfers to get together and have a good time. We've seen pictures of over 90 kites up at one time during Kitestock. That's not a small feat considering it's 4 hours from the nearest city.
This year the organisers have done two things to raise the bar; first, they've changed the dates to coincide with the Australia Day public holiday, so a 4 day event can be run with ease - and kite surfers only need to 'chuck a sickie' on one day, not two as it has been in the past.
The other big change (which has actually been a gradual one) is the incorporation of stand up paddle in the event. Over the years most kitesurfing retailers have began stocking stand up paddle equipment. The link between the two sports is somewhat minimal - except for the fact that most of the kitesurfing importers also import SUP equipment - but who said it wasn't fun!
Now kite surfers have something to do if the wind blows offshore (or not at all), and several entrants are driving up there exclusively to test the range of equipment on offer from all the SUP retailers. This is a trend that's worked exceptionally well for the Merimbula Classic over on the east coast, which in fact is commonly regarded as the east coast version of Kitestock. In the Merimbula classic, SUP started out as an exhibition sport for no wind days. Now, there's more SUP entrants than kiters and windsurfers combined. The relationship between SUP and kitesurfing is now something that's now deeply imbedded in the expectations of kite surfers around Australia, so who knows? Maybe in 3 years time from now - we'll be talking about how SUP's took over the biggest kitesurfing event in WA?