For the first leg of the journey, the Slingshot team descended upon Aruba a day before the annual Aruba Hi-Winds event, the largest wind sports gathering in the Caribbean and what would kick off the start our trip. Team riders Kimo Verkerk and Jurre Bruijn flew in from the Netherlands and arrived a day before me. I flew in from Portland, Oregon and Slingshot HQ. The boys wasted no time the morning of my arrival so after picking up our rental car I headed straight to the beach to meet them and check out the event site. As I stepped out of the car at Fisherman’s Huts, I was greeted with beautiful white sand, warm buttery flat water and a set up crew in full action assembling the stage and judge’s booth. After catching up with Kimo and Jurre, we decided to hit the water for a warmup session.
The Hi-Winds event was to run for the next few days with their Big Air discipline starting in the morning. After a nice sunset dinner on the beach and a big sleep to shake off our jet lag, Kimo and Jurre took to the skies, battling it out with over 50 other participants. As the week went by, the strong wind that greeted us diminished, and Kimo and Jurre were forced to use the largest kites they came with. Lucky for Jurre he packed a 12m Code and ended up coming home with second place, only getting slightly beat out by fellow Dutchie, Lasse Walker. Even though the forecast did not hold we had a great time immersing with the local kiting scene, competing in the event, and exploring the island for unique shooting locations in our down time.
One might assume that a Caribbean Island would provide consistent wind for kite enthusiasts, but Aruba had a surprise in store for us. Just like in true kiting fashion, when you plan an event, the wind usually does not cooperate. Due to the wind coming predominately from the east and most of the kite locations being on the west coast, the wind travels over land first before getting harnessed by kites, with the land creating updrafts, and large casinos creating holes in the wind – these factors caused a significant amount of turbulence. These gusty conditions posed a challenge to the original shooting plan and the team had to get smart and try and think outside the box. As true adventurers, we adapted swiftly, donned our adventure hats, and embarked on an island-wide exploration to find off-the-beaten-path shooting locations with more constant wind and less crowds. Aruba, with its crystal-clear waters and tropical climate, proved to be an ideal canvas for Slingshot’s creative endeavors. As we ventured beyond the beaten path, we uncovered the hidden gems of Aruba kiting – secluded beaches, breathtaking vistas, and empty blue water. Each location was a piece of paradise waiting to be captured through the lens of Andre Magarao and Ky Zarmati and truly embed the lifestyle of a kiter searching for their secluded tropical oasis.