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Cindy Mosey's Island Odyssey continued
We Have Arrived!
With the Moorings Yachts anchored in front of Mounu Island's white sand shores, the girls of this year's Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava'u swam ashore to receive a colourful lei of flowers from the island's staff.
It was the perfect introduction to what promises to be an amazing week of friendship, learning, kitesurfing and hopefully some close-ups with whales.
There are 28 women kitesurfers joining this year's odyssey. The professional riders - including Professional Kite Rider's Association (PKRA) World Champion Kristin Boese (pictured left with event founder Cindy Mosey and Mounu Island's Pepa Nesi) - will compete for a share of US$20,000 in prizes which is the biggest prize purse ever offered to women in the sport.
When not competing in the three divisions of Boardercross, Freestyle and Racing, the world's leading kitesurfers will be on hand to coach other participants who have gathered in Vava'u from all over the world.
Winds are forecast to pick up to between 15knot and 18 knots on Monday which is ideal conditions for kitesurfing. The contest is therefore being held off until the start of the week, and time will instead be spent discovering the reefs and searching for whales.
For Australia's CJ Jones, it was "the biggest adrenaline rush" while for the Netherlands' Katja Roose, it "completely made" her trip.
What did the girls of the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava'u get up to today that could possibly result in such massive smiles? We swam with whales...
In the expert hands of licensed operators Whale Watch Vava'u, the 28 participants were divided into two groups and taken out on boats either in the morning or the afternoon. Once a mammal had been spotted, only 5 people were allowed in the water at any time to ensure that the creatures did not become stressed.
Several groups of girls were rewarded with a mind-blowing experience snorkelling above a huge mother southern humpback whale and her playful calf. On my trip, the playful calf spent time cuddling under his mum before plucking up the courage to show off some of his surface moves (belly rolls, tale splashes) to our quiet and respecting small group.
The encounter was so special that we all struggled to put it into words as we clambered back onto the boat, but by the time we returned to Mounu Island there was plenty of excitement comparing our stories - and photos - to those from others back on the beach.
There are 28 women kitesurfers at this year's Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava'u. The 10 professional riders on the island will compete for a share of US$20,000 in prizes which is the biggest prize purse ever offered to women kitesurfers.
Winds are forecast to pick up to between 15knot and 18 knots tomorrow, so we will try for the Boardercross competition as well as coaching clinics.
Last year's PKRA world champion Kristin Boese today won the Boardercross division of the US$20,000 international kitesurfing competition, the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava’u.
The ever-smiling Kristin was in fine form as she raced across the starting buoy line in a final with Poland’s Ania Grzelinska and New Zealand’s national champion Su Kay. Ania and Kristin were extremely close as they flew passed the finish line in front of cheering onlookers back on the beach but it was Kristin who crossed first followed by Ania and Su in third.
The Domincan Republic's Laurel Eastman was also stoked with her fourth place in the Boardercross.
Competitors from New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, USA, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland and the Dominican Republic raced around a course in sparkling turquoise waters surrounding Mounu Island in the Vava’u group of Tonga for a share of the biggest prize purse ever offered to women in the sport.
In boardercross, groups of four kitesurfers cross the starting buoys together and jostle for position in an all-out race around a course of buoys and floating obstacles. They must complete compulsory manoeuvres in each leg between buoys as they race to cross the finish line first.
The action continues until Saturday and will involve two more divisions – a course race and freestyle heats. Participants who are on the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava'u for coaching clinics with the professional riders are getting their turn on the water this afternoon, freeriding in the absolutely amazing setting of Mounu.
DAY FIVE - Matamaka Village
The girls at the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava'u are going to bed extremely happy tonight after a huge feast of coconut-soaked papaya, fresh-caught crayfish, taro, raw fish and other Tongan delicacies all served in plates made from the bark of banana palms.
Organised by Mounu Island Resort's worker Ma'ata Fifita, the people of Matamaka Village have been preparing for weeks for the arrival of our international group of kitesurfers by fishing for seafood and making outfits for the children who sang and danced beautifully for their audience.
With our tummies full of delicious Tongan food, we stood and danced to the beat of a drum and laughed along with our audience as they howled at the crazy tourists and their chicken dance style...yeow!
Matamaka Village is a 15 minute speed boat ride from Mounu Island but life goes on in a very traditional way. The show put on by the children gave us an opportunity to raise funds towards a much-needed generator that will be used to run essential school equipment.
Malo aupito (thankyou) everyone at Matamaka!
The sight of a glowing white sandbar linking two tropical islands and sky dotted with the crescent shapes of brightly coloured kites was an unforgettable experience.
This was the view from the back of the Moorings catamaran Tonga Moon, as it led kitesurfers on the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey back to the small island of Mounu in Vava'u on a downwind race for all participants of the event.
The amateur girls linked up with a professional rider to inspire them and make the race even more memorable.
First to make it back to the island was UK-born Lara ... followed by Australia's Lisa Hickman and Mounu Resort resident Kirsty Bowe, who hails from New Zealand.
The week-long adventure of the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey Vava'u wraps up with a surprise show and prizegiving ceremony.
Stories will be released in international magazines and posted onto the cindy mosey island odyssey website so keep your eyes peeled for scans of stories and information on next year!