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| posted on 30-9-2009 at 11:52||
|Kite Challenge 2009. Ireland to Scotland|
Kite challenge 2009 ‚Äì Crossing the Irish Sea for Charity.
Back in late 2008 a crazy Northern Irish kitesurfing dude named Jason McGrugan had the idea of kiting across the Irish Sea from Ireland
to Scotland. He ‚Äòthrew it out there‚Äô on nikiteforum.com (our local way of seeing whos up to what), and wouldn‚Äôt you know it, all
us local kitesurfers got very very excited about the thought of endangering our lives to support the crossing. The thread was alive
with enthusiasm and support. It was clear that this idea , was going to become a reality.
The kite challenge would aim to complete the largest crossing of kitesurfers ever (12 Kitesurfers), across the Irish Sea , from
Ballywalter in Northern Ireland , to Portlogan in Scotland. It would take place on the first weekend that weather permits in Autumn
Ballywalter Beach , Northern Ireland
Portlogan Beach Scotland
After some very hard work, a lot of meetings, a lot of tea and a lot of stress, the ‚ÄúKite Challenge Team‚Äù was born. The idea has
become a reality and the Kite Challenge Team have overcome many many obstacles to make the challenge possible. Over 25 volunteers have
come onboard to help organise the challenge , a host of support boats , the RNLI , Carrickfurgus Sailing Club , and many many more have
all bound together so see this once crazy idea carried out to the end. Its all being done in aid of charity. The team has selected 4
charities to support. Many of the charities are close to our riders hearts and you can read why we have chosen them on the links
With months and months of planning, many training sessions, emergency rehersals, RNLI training, fitness training and logistics to
ensure everyone completes safely the team are almost ready to gp. The whole team as put together a monumental effort and in the coming
weeks the challenge will hopefully be successfully completed. Right now , everything that can be done has been done. On the first
weekend with the correct conditions, everyone will be dropping all to rush to Ballywalter beach and get ready to begin the
The Planning team Working hard planning and Organising
Such a huge effort has been put in , and we would greatly appreciate just a few minutes of your time and support with a donation to one
of the charities we are supporting. If you can spare just a few moments and a few of your hard earned pounds , please visit
http://www.kitechallenge.com and please make a donation large or small. It will be appreciated greatly and go some way to
rewarding those who have been putting in so much effort.
Kite challenge have also had some fantastic support from Kitesurfing Companies who have generously given product donations and
Ozone Kites have kindly donated a 2009 Instinct Light XC 8m Kite Complete. It was used for a charity raffle , which raised ¬£1226.00.
You can read more about the ozone kite donated in our news section here
Ozone Donates a Kite to Kite Challenge 2009
Blade Kitesurfing Have donated 2 x 2009 Kites which we will be auctioning very shortly by way of a Global Charity E-bay auction. There
will be a 7m Blade prime completeand 5m Blade triggger Complete coming up soon.
Griffin kiteboarding have sponsored the event , providing 10 x 12m Griffin kites to complete the crossing with. Our riders hve been
training and getting to grips with them for the challenge. They will be auctioned off for charity after he event again by way of global
ebay auction. You can read more about the support from griffin on this link.
Griffin Kiteboarding Aids Kite Challenge 2009
Thanks to all for reading and thanks again for you support. So much work has been done in the back ground from legal and insurance
issues to Fund Raisers and promotion events. A huge thanks to everyone involved and everyone who has supported the Kite Challenge.
Now we are just waiting for the wind...
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| posted on 30-9-2009 at 12:09||
|OZONE Kite winner|
The ‚ÄòWin a Kite‚Äô competition winner was selected on Monday 24 August 2009 and the prize was collected this evening by the winner
The winner is George Murray who lives in Belfast is 44 years old, a keen skier and has experience of canoeing ... he is a P.E. Teacher.
I spoke to him and explained lessons, dealers, equipment needs, insurance etc or other option of just selling the kite.
He is over the moon that he has won and has decided to take the kite and later decide whether to learn to kitesurf or just sell on to a
buyer to pay for a holiday.
George collected the kite from me today and I got a picture to capture his smile. He wishes the team a safe journey, he asked me was it
a race and I laughed and said no; so Stevo no funny ideas lol.
‚ÄúWell done George, and thank you from the kitechallenge team, but I have too say it broke my heart giving it away :-) but fair play
its a really cool kite and set of bars‚Äù
We would like to thank everyone who either took one of our leaflets, a sticker, who made a donation or just took the time to talk to us
at the Tall Ships event. Also thank you to Ozone for donating the Instinct 8m XC light kite for our charity raffle prize, it helped us
raise money for our challenge.
If you would like to know more regarding the actual prize product information then please visit
or visit our local dealer for Ozone products
Remember on http://www.kitechallenge.com anyone can make a donation by clicking on any of our charity links on the right
hand side and via justgiving.
| posted on 30-9-2009 at 14:51||
|Good feature, keep us all up dated please.
Kite & SUP wales
Caravan decking wales
A Force-of-Nature **
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all I need is everything...
| posted on 6-10-2009 at 11:56||
|Just wondered if the challenge went ahead given that the winds were a 'bit nuclear' on Saturday.|
A great cause though and an impressive challenge none the less.
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| posted on 7-10-2009 at 15:57||
|Ya, held back a week due to mental winds..|
hoping it will go ahead on 10/10/2009
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| posted on 9-10-2009 at 13:09||
|The weather is finally playing ball and this sunday will be the day. A few changes have been made to the launch spot , and now we are
leaving from Rhanbuoy Park in carrickfergus.|
I'll be doing support in one of the ribs, so good luck to all the kiters competing.
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| posted on 12-10-2009 at 10:58||
|from the Challenge Oraganiser Jase :|
We got one kitesurfer across to Scotland
The kitechallenge happened today and to be honest we launched in very light winds hoping that we would get far enough out to sea to get
into the stronger wind zone of the Irish Sea and make it to Scotland. I would have preferred to wait until 12.30 but then Scotland was
showing winds up to 40 mph and the boats would have called it off half way through for sure, so it was better to try early.
So we took the safer option and took a risk to try and do the challenge earlier and well this is what happened:
Fact: One kitesurfer only made it to Portlogan in Scotland, Congratulations to Stephen Anderson (Stevo) who made it to Portlogan... and
to Sean Brennan (Sean B), Paul Scott (Scotty), Ian, Rab, Bruce, and David Thompson in support. They returned in force 7 winds (so they
say but we reckon force 6 lol) and puked their guts up on the way home, except Scotty cause he is RAW
I am sure Stevo will write a blog or news when he regains his strength. Okay a lot of us never made it for our own personal
achievement, but together as a team effort we have raised so far over ¬£5,500 plus another ¬£1,800 on top of this and we have kites to
sell to add to these totals. We set out to do something mad and off the wall to raise money for charity and we can hold our heads up
high and proudly say that we got a kitesurfer across and everyone is home safe. We have done something this year as a first and raised
money for charity, built friendships and achieved it.
If nobody would have achieved the journey then I would have been gutted and very upset but folks this would never have been possible if
it wasn‚Äôt for all of our hard work and dedication to this 2009 kitechallenge so give yourself a bit shout!
A huge well done to everyone involved. Coming up very shortly ( as soon as i return from a holiday) , We will be auctioning off 2 Blade
kites (7m Prime and 5m Blade trigger) and 10 griffin kites for charity.
A Force-of-Nature **
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all I need is everything...
| posted on 12-10-2009 at 12:19||
|Glad to hear someone made the trip across the water.|
Once again a great set of charities to support and a worthy challenge indeed.
Member #: 8599
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| posted on 1-11-2009 at 19:23||
|Many thanks for your comments and support.|
Here is the full story from the one kiter who made it- Stephen Anderson. Gruelling doesnt quite cut it and its well worth the read.
This is my story of crossing the Irish Sea with a kite and a surfboard. The Kitechallenge was dedicated to Lennon Dion Norrby
(12th December 2007 - 5th October 2009).
So there was wind out at sea but hardly any at all in Belfast Lough where we were to launch. To make things worse, we were in the wind
shadow of Carrickfergus and the hills behind it. The tricky bit would be getting out of the lough and into open water.
Hairymike was the first to dive his kite and sail out into the lough. He kited out on his right-hand tack in a south-westerly
direction, followed soon after by Will. The three of us were to cross the sea as a group. I could see the reasoning behind why they
tacked out in generally the opposite direction to Scotland; it was to get away from the wind shadow as quickly as possible. The other
reason was to get safely downwind of the 40-or-so little sailing boats that were part of a sailing event for school children. I tried
the opposite approach and kited on my left hand tack, in the direction of Scotland, thinking that I would hook up with Mikey and Will a
little further down the lough. That plan changed very quickly. One of the others dropped his kite on the first tack because the wind
was so light. I decided right away to just concentrate on getting myself out of the lough to where the wind is and let them do the
same. I could wait for them there.
It was a full 10 - 14 kms from the launch site to the wind line and it was some of the hardest kiting work I've ever had to do. I
landed up passing upwind of the mass of school children in their boats because I didn't want to risk changing tack and losing the
little bit of momentum that I had. I did keep enough space between me and the sailing boats though to ensure I would not cause a
problem for anyone if I dropped the kite and I got passed them as quickly as I could.
I gradually made my way further out from the shore but it was really tough because the only way to keep tension on the kite lines in
such light wind was to edge the board upwind and closer to the coast behind me. The wind was so light that at times I could not even
get the kite to lift my body up at all. I've never before kept a kite in the air for so long in no wind - never needed to. This time
was different. There were a couple of moments where I came close to just letting the kite fall but I thought to myself: All the
preparation that I have done over this last year will be for nothing if I let this kite fall. I looked behind me and could see only one
other kite in the distance. If it's this hard for me to keep my kite in the air and get out to the wind line then it's gotta be just as
hard for everyone else.
It then occurred to me for the first time that maybe none of us would make it out just passed this first section of the crossing. If
the others don't make it and I drop this kite then no-one will make it, so actually it's not just about me and my crossing anymore. If
only one of us makes it across then as a team we have achieved our goal, but if I drop this kite now then it's quite possibly over for
the whole team. I could no longer comfort myself with the notion that if I don't make it then at least someone else will. All the
planning, all the meetings, all the fund-raising, all of Jonny's work on the website, Jase's project management, Gary's efforts making
sure all the work streams were staying on track to meet deadlines... I could go on and on and probably should but basically the thing I
had in mind was that the success or failure of this entire project that has involved so much effort from so many people now all relies
on me keeping this single kite from dropping out the sky. I also remembered that as a team, we had dedicated this challenge to Joe B
1's little boy, Lennon who had died suddenly at age 22 months only 6 days before. Okay Lennon, there's no way I'm gonna let this kite
fall even if I have to just keep working it right here all day and never make it to the wind line.
All this time, I was nowhere near any of the support boats. I knew I wasn't in any danger though and I was hoping that the support
boats were able to help some of the others relaunch their kites from the still, flat water. Eventually I saw a boat coming out towards
me. I recognised it right away as David Thompson's boat. David had taken a few of us out on a training mission a few weeks ago. He has
a brilliant boat that can handle stronger conditions than some of the other boats. I couldn't see everyone on the boat but I recognised
Ian, Scotty, Sean B, and Rab. They headed past me and pointed the boat towards Port Logan. A few minutes later there was a small gust
of wind and I was actually able to get up and planing for a while. That didn't last long and soon I was back in the water trying to
keep the kite from falling.
The boat headed out into the distance and left me to my business. My suspicions about what they were up to were soon validated when
they returned, waving and pointing out to sea, shouting "THERE'S WIND OUT THERE!". It was just what I needed to hear.
Now at some point during all this something unexpected happened. The Griffin kites we were using for the crossing have an attachment
point that is high up above the bar and well out of reach. I was not using the kite leash that came with the kite but was using my
regular leash which I keep attached to my harness. It is designed to attach to the back of my harness and hook onto the kite below the
bar. My leash didn't reach from behind my back and up to the leash attachment point so I attached it to the spreader bar at the front
of the harness. All the movement from the bar caused the release pin on the leash to come undone because it was not designed to be
attached to the front of the harness. The heavy leash was dangling from the attachment point of the kite, out of my reach. Okay, I can
deal with this. At least it doesn't affect the kite.
When I gave the kite one last big loop to get myself going as the wind was just starting to build the left back line pushed against the
leash attachment, locking the back line line securely into the carabina clip. Nooooooo! I was still able to fly the kite and keep
myself going for now, but I could not turn the kite all the way left, only a little bit. Okay I'll keep kiting for a while but I gotta
think this one through. I knew that Ian was in his wetsuit so I could maybe call the boat over and get him to jump into the water and
try to unclip the leash. But there would be no guarantee that this would work and now that there was a little bit of wind pulling me,
even if he did jump in I might be pulled downwind of him. I also didn't want for anyone in the boat to have to get wet unless it was
absolutely essential because crossing all the way to Scotland and back on a boat in a wet wetsuit would be horribly uncomfortable if
not dangerously cold. I decided I would have to take care of this myself. I practised my hand movements in my mind, waited until there
was definitely enough wind for me to relaunch the kite if I dropped it, let go of the bar, grabbed the center line, pulled it towards
me and unclipped the carabina from both the back line and the leash attachment point in one move. Phew! The kite was now on the water
but it had wind in it so I took a moment to clip the leash to my harness and put the heel straps behind my feet to lock them into the
footstraps before relaunching.
I landed the kite two more times during the crossing, once to adjust the front heel strap because I hadn't put it on right the first
time, and again to adjust the depower line.
So this was it. I was riding the wind and living in the moment that I had wanted to experiance since I moved to Ballywater exactly
seven years before, looked out across the water to Scotland and thought: One day I'm going to kitesurf over to there.
Yeah, so there's wind... more wind.... more wind. The wind got stronger and stronger and the sea got more and more choppy. Soon it was
no longer just chop, but was chop and waves. Scotland was a long way away. A year earlier I had kitesurfed the length of the Dutch
coastline with Mikey and another friend, Shane. We did it in two days so each day we had covered 55kms. I thought about this during the
crossing because I remembered what a long way that was... but in Holland we were right next to the beach the whole way, able to stop
and rest whenever we wanted to, and we could ride though smooth water between the waves. Now there was nowhere to stop and rest, no
smooth water anywhere, and the same distance to cover. But all I have to do now is keep this up and I'll get to Scotland.
The wind didn't stop building and the waves soon became hills of water, filled with smaller waves that were all fighting with each
other - meeting together to either double up in size or cancel each other out. Physically, the crossing wasn't too much of a problem.
Of course it's a long distance to kite in one go, but I never doubted that my legs could keep me going else I wouldn't have started out
in the first place. What really became a challenge though was the mental aspect of it. Again, not like the mental challenge of
overcoming physical fatigue that the long-distance runner faces, but something different to that. I found myself in wind that was far
too strong for a 12m bow kite. I was ridiculously overpowered. Being overpowered on a kite in a normal twin tip session can be
difficult to manage but at least when kiting across the wind on a twin tip, I could dig the rail against the water and use the board as
a brake. Kiting downwind on a surfboard with so much power in the kite meant that there were long periods of time where I was literally
unable to slow down and definitely unable to stop. It was a case of: okay here we go again keepittogether keepittotgether
keepittotgether don't mess up keep the fins straight don't mess up keep it together... ah, there now I have control again. Now imagine
that for minutes on end.
There were a couple of times when the boat allowed me to catch up so Sean B could take some video footage on his mobile phone - the
camera crew were on a different boat - but for pretty much the whole way, David T kept his boat far enough ahead to that I could
experience this as a solo crossing without using the wake to ease the ride and with out having to maintain a cheesey grin for the lads
on the boat. I was smiling a lot anyway.
I didn't fall or drop the kite at all on the crossing but I came close to messing up four times. Three of those times was when I was
charging across massive stretches of unpredictable chop and I got an unexpected drop resulting from two or more waves cancelling each
other out, sucking the water out from under my board and causing me to drop a couple of feet without warning. Each time I felt a surge
of adrenaline, my heart beat faster and I focused even harder.
The fourth time I nearly made a mistake was when I was 11.2kms from the coast of Scotland (GPS is great, hey?). The waves were the
biggest here than anywhere else across the sea and were many times higher than the boat. I could see white water blowing right across
the boat with the wind pushing the boat sideways. I needed to lose some ground and head further downwind so as to keep on target for
Portlogan so I turned to ride on my toe-side edge and found myself on a mountain of a wave, completely overpowered and accelerating
rapidly. By changing direction I had put my kite deeper into its power zone and the turned onto the wave itself. I rode the wave for
250 meters, adrenaline pumping and in a state of the most intense concentration. It was all happening so fast but at the same time it
seemed to take so long. I had to think quickly because I knew that it was only a matter of time before I would make the tiniest error
and it would then be big-problem time. As I finally got to the bottom of the wave and turned downwind and onto my heel side edge the
kite came within a foot of the surface of the water. My heart missed a beat before the it turned upwards again. Don't do that again.
Don't mess up now.
If I had made a mistake and fallen off the board it is quite likely that I would not have been able to complete the crossing even if I
didn't drop the kite. This is because of the strength of the wind, the ferocity of the waves, and the speed at which I was being pulled
across the choppy sea. All I had to do was to come down from one peak with the fins at just the slightest wrong angle and I would have
tumbled, spinning across the water. It would have been near impossible to hold onto the kite and retrieve the board while being pulled
and thrown about in those conditions. As long as I kept moving downwind, I would not have to truly deal with the wrath of the wind. If
I was moving across the water at 20 knots and the wind was 40 knots, then it would feel like 20 knots of wind but if I were to stop
then I would feel it all.
The last 10 kms was strange because the coast of Scotland seemed so close but no matter how much water I covered, it just seemed to
stay the same distance away. Again, I thought about all my friends who had put so much effort into this event and of the other six
kiters who had tried to reach the wind but were not as lucky as me, and about how they were all relying on me to just keep going to the
end. It would be too easy to make a mistake now and the event would have been just as much a failure as if I had dropped the kite in
the light wind of Belfast Lough.
The boat stopped a few hundred meters away from the beach. I passed it then slowed myself down and stopped one last time to take off my
heel straps, relaxed and rode the last stretch to the beach, over the last breaker, and onto the sand.
But not over yet
Now I'm standing on a beach holding onto a 12m bow kite in a force 7 gale. The boat cannot get into the harbour. I cannot land the kite
because the leash is disconnected.
There was one man on the beach with his wife and child. He walked over towards me. Since I'm in Scotland for only a few seconds, I may
as well say hi to the natives, so I called over to him: "Hi. I came over from Northern Ireland." Man: "I thought so." Me: "I'm going
back now, Bye!". "Bye."
It felt really weird putting the board on my feet in the opposite direction. All this time I hadn't had to move my feet around and I
almost forgot how to kite the other way. I kited out 600m to pack down. I saw that this was going to be dangerous and I would need to
do some upwind tacking first to put more space between me and the cliffs before initiating a deep water pack-down. I landed the kite on
the water and re-attached the release pin on the leash. I was about to pull in the centre line and attach the leash to the safety
attachment point when I looked over and saw the guys in the boat waving frantically at me. I realised that they thought I was going to
pack down there and then so I left the leash unattached, turned around and kited back towards the shore.
Change of plan: I would land the kite on the beach. I went back to shore and called the man over and instructed him on how to safely
catch my kite. I first asked him to attach my safety leash so that if the landing went wrong at all I could pull the safety pin and
dump all the kite power in an instant. The landing went smoothly and I packed up the kite. We made our introductions. His name is David
and he's coastguard. He offered to take me up to Port Patrick where the boat could meet me and pick me up. I had my phone with me in a
waterproof pouch, (Never do a downwinder without a phone) so tried to phone the boat but couldn't get any signal. I left my kite and
harness with David on the beach and set out to paddle to the boat.
Oh, what a hard paddle. Wave after wave was pushing me back as well as the strong onshore wind. Any time I paused I lost meters at a
time from being pushed back. To make it even more interesting, I was being winded by the front footstrap which was pressing into my
belly, my helmet was falling over my face, it was near impossible to duck-dive under the waves because of the floatation device I was
wearing, and it was a small surfboard to paddle on. I finally made it out passed the breakers and looked over to the boat. Why wasn't
the boat coming to pick me up? Surely they know I'm not just going for a quick surf here?
Then it dawned on me: The boat couldn't come any closer because of the wind and waves. If they came any closer to the shore they would
be in danger of running aground. David T would need to take his boat out of gear while I'm being pulled onto the boat and that meant he
would need additional space to allow for the boat to be pushed towards the shore.
With no energy left, I dug deep, put my head down and paddled as hard as I could. My arms were aching. It was difficult to breath
because of the footstrap in my belly and I couldn't see ahead of me because the helmet was falling in front of my face. I though about
ditching the helmet but remembered that I would need it to protect me from the boat in case it crashed down on top of me.
Eventually I could hear my friends' voices. I stopped one last time, saw them waving to me to keep going; they weren't coming to me,
and I gave one last 30m push to the boat. Ian took my board from me and then he and someone else pulled me onto the boat.
Now it's over.
No no no no no it isn't haha what do you think this is?!
I had made it through all the zero-wind kiting, across the whole Irish Sea, through all those waves, over all that choppy water and I
had handled it fine. I had trained for it. But it was the paddle at the end that really drained all my last reserves. So with no energy
left I was now in a boat that was bouncing all over the place, facing into the gale and against the waves, travelling at what seemed
like a walking pace. It took somewhere between 3 and 6 seconds for me to turn from ecstatically happy to violently sea-sick.
I mean REALLY SICK. I handled it for about another 3 seconds then gave up all hope. "AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!. I need to
get off this boat, Please take me to Port Patrick and leave me there. I'll find another way home. I can't be on this boat all the way
back." Ian chipped in with "Aye, we have about 4 hours or more of this before we get back across". Great.
I just didn't care any more. I wanted to lie down and I seriously considered throwing my surfboard overboard just to lie down in it's
place. Fortunately Rab has a very comfortable lap so to everyone's amusement, I just lay down with my head down in his lap.
The boys were telling me I need to get changed. No way. I'm not moving. They thought that I was hypothermic and dehydrated, but I was
neither of those. I had been drinking a mixture of water and Lucozade sport the whole way across and I was wearing a warm, dry fleece
under my wetsuit and a tightly-fitted buoyancy aide over my wetsuit so I was warm enough. I was also wrapped up in a large coat made of
wetsuit material to further insulate me. I was just about as sea-sick as anyone could possibly get. I don't usually get seasick but the
exhaustion from the paddling made me very susceptible to seasickness.
I jumped up and moved quickly towards the side of the boat. The boys had all been talking about how I must be delirious so Bruce
stopped me, thinking I was about to jump ship. "Where do you think you're going?". "I'm going to vomit." He got out of my way.
I spent the next few hours lying on my back in agony listening to the guys all complaining about their full bladders - no chance of
going over the side in those waves. I just wanted to go to sleep. Scotty kept asking me questions to see if I was still lucid and to
keep me from falling asleep. I was lucid the whole time but you wouldn't have thought so from looking at me because I was in really bad
form and couldn't speak from feeling so sick.
The boat ride back took hours. I couldn't keep track of the time but I was told it was about 3 and a half hours or more. Horrid.
When we got close to Belfast Lough and the water became smoother I forced myself up in one lunge and tried to regain my composure.
Eventually we entered the marina and were greeted with cheers from everyone who had come out from the pub to see us back in.
All that was left to be done was shower, vomit some more, and head into the pub for a coke.
What a day! It is certainly one of the main highlights of my life. A day that I'll never forget. I'm glad that it wasn't easy - what
would be the fun in that?! Even the suffering on the journey back was worth it. Altogether the crossing took just under 3 hours, but
with a significant portion of that in Belfast Lough. The distance covered was s little over 55 kms.
Thank you everyone who was involved in the Kitechallenge project. It was an honour to have been part of it and I'm glad to have not let
the team down.
Roll on Kitechallenge 2010!!!
- Stephen Anderson
A huge congrats to everyone involved. It was a great experience for all of us to be involved with.
The kites dontated from Griffin and Blade are now being auctioned off for the Kite Challenge Charities on the Kitesurf Warehouse ebay
page. There will be 10 lightly used Griffins complete up for grabs (9 x 12m and 1x 10m) , a new 5m Blade Trigger and a 7m Blade
You can bid on the auctions at
Kite Challenge Auctions
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