The 11th annual Kiteboarding 4 Cancer (KB4C) event had another great year of sunshine, wind, and lots of kiters hitting the water at the Hood River Event Site for a good cause.
KB4C founder Tonia Farman said 238 riders competed in the main segment of the multi-day event, Saturday’s kite derby, where riders attempt to kite for six hours, as either teams or individuals, around an approximately mile-long course on the Columbia River. The kiters help raise money for Camp Koru, an adventure retreat camp for cancer survivors and battlers aged 18-39. As of Monday evening, KB4C had raised $170,000, although the finally tally had not been completed.
“It was just amazing,” she said. “It was probably our biggest year yet in terms of spectators, definitely our biggest year in terms of participants.”
Farman said there were also about 50 more kiters at the start of the derby than last year’s event — a dramatic spectacle where a horde of kiters tears from the middle of the Columbia and toward the first buoy of the course located near the east jetty, as a jubilant crowd cheers them on. The higher numbers and the close quarters made for more tangles than ever before, Farman said, but she noted that if kiters are going to tangle anywhere, KB4C is the place to do it.
“It’s probably the best place to tangle anywhere… because people are so friendly, so thoughtful, and everyone is out there for the same purpose, and everyone has the same attitude about it, and no one cares, and no one takes it too seriously.”
Farman said the wind was coming out of the south, making it gusty and challenging, particularly for the foilers, who, for the first time at KB4C, had their own course set up to the south and west of the main derby area. Last year, concerns over safety regarding the potential for hydrofoils coming out of the water and injuring other riders during a wipeout meant that foilers could not compete in the derby itself. Instead, foilers were told to ride anywhere else on the Columbia, fitted with a device that recorded how far they traveled. However, it didn’t feel as inclusive.
“Last year, the foilers really missed being a part of the regular race, and people like to be in the mayhem, in the chaos; I think people thrive on it,” Farman said, adding that feedback from the dozen or so riders who competed in this year’s foil derby was positive. “They loved it; the course was great for them. It was really right.”
Also a first for KB4C this year: windsurfer participation in the derby. Farman said windsurfer Bryan Metcalf-Perez approached her about a week before the event and asked if he, Tyson Poor, and Wyatt Miller could have a windsurfing exhibition during the race, and Farman was on board. The trio went the full six hours of the derby, Farman reported.
The event that has raised well over a million dollars and is now billed as the largest kiteboarding competition in North America had humbler beginnings, starting in 2007 as a way to honor Farman’s little brother, Scott Farman, who passed away that same year after a 13-month battle with leukemia. He was 19. The first year, they raised $30,000 — six times the amount they expected. But as the event has continued to expand in both fundraising and participation, it’s also grown beyond a tribute to Farman’s brother. That’s evidenced by the “What’s Your Story?” board that appears at the event every year, where KB4C attendees write tributes to their loved ones, or stories about how cancer has affected their lives, on the board.
“Scott, his story, inspired someone else to tell their story. That’s really how this event and everything that happens at it, is why it’s special and unique. It inspires people to tell their stories in a place where people wouldn’t usually tell it,” Farman said. “If it can start with Scott’s story, great. But now everyone has a story.”
KB4C results, top three finishers
Individual men: Joey Pasquali (82 laps), Sam Medysky (79), Grom Gormley (71)
Individual women: Justi Vonada (60), Carol Bolstad (49), Sensi Graves (46)
Individual youth: Vetea Boersma (60), Corbett Blackman (30), M.K. Olson (22)
Team: Gorge Greenery (Jacob Cook, Joby Cook, Brandon Scheid, Richard Sabo; 68), 2nd Wind Sports OGs (Pepi Gerald, Mark Bames, John Gillman, Scott Edgar; 65), Team Naish Kiteboarding (Cody Cornett, Ewan Jaspan, Katie Potter, Philipp Schonger; 64)
Individual foil: Julien Kerneur (54), Jeremy Brandt (42), Cory Roeseler (41)
Team foil: Ride Engine (Reed Brady, Coleman Buckley, Fred Hope, Nick Weighall; 38)