DAY ONE – Welcome to Kadavu There were hoots and cheers as the engines roared on our Sun Air flight from Nadi, Fiji. Sun Air had agreed to provide three charter flights to the remote island chain of Kadavu, but on the day they sent five – two just for gear and another just for world champ Kristen Boese who had missed her connecting flight out of Sydney. That had to make the girl feel like a champion! Having safely landed on the clearing that serves as the runway on Kadavu‟s main island, we boarded Fijian long boats and headed for Kenia Resort on Ono Island. Kenia Resort is a sandy bay with a live reef for incredible snorkelling and a village 10 minutes by boat to the south. To experience life on Kadavu is to go back 50 years; visitors are made to feel incredibly special and are constantly thanked for coming. At Kenia Resort the villagers gathered from all over Kadavu to welcome the 38 kiting girls and event crew, each presented with a lei of leaves and a bowl of traditional kava drink (either high tide or low tide – most went for the low tide but everyone finished the bowl!). Village elders gave a humble and moving thank you to Cindy and her group of girlfriends, and a blessing for a safe and windy stay. After a night of kava and dancing we slept to the sound of Fijian singing and guitars, floating on a growing breeze through the coconut palms. DAY TWO – Freeriding Nagara Pt We woke to consistently steady 20 knot winds and boarded the long boats for Nagara Pt, a 30 minute boat ride away from Kenia. Turquoise blue lagoons dropped away to deep trenches punctured by a tiny uninhabited island. The girls gathered around for a safety briefing with Andreya Wharry and launched from a picturesque white sandbar. World champion Kristen Boese and New Zealand champ Su Kay were among the first to launch, followed eagerly by Holland‟s Katya Roose who was boosting big and loving it. Before long the sky above Nagara was filled with the colour of giant kites for the first time ever. A lunch of sliced papaya, spicy coconut soup and fresh baked bread followed, and after time spent lounging under trees the girls gathered in groups with Laurel Eastman, CJ Jones, Emma York, Susi Mai, Petra, Katiya, Cindy and Kristen coaching them at either jumping, rotations, or unhooked. PKRA number 3 Anja Grzelinska teamed up with UK-born kiter Sue Greatrex to work on mastering raleys and like many of the girls, Sue returned to Kenia Resort that evening with a huge grin after having learnt a trick she had so far only dreamed of doing. DAY THREE – Rock jumps, snorkeling and waterfalls… The wind had disappeared overnight and it was a fantastic opportunity to explore Kenia‟s amazing underwater inhabitants. The sunshine brought out all the colour of the reef and we found ourselves excitedly calling to each other in that universal shouting-through-a- snorkel language that goes something like “eeeeeeeek! ook at at on”, as schools of fish darted in and out of coral formations. Cindy‟s husband Andy Reid got creative in making a wakeboarding handle using a tree branch and took some of the girls for a blat behind one of the longboats. Lunch on the beach was followed by a walk to a rock jump around the bay and a hike past patches of Taro plantations to the serenely beautiful Kavala waterfall on the main island across the channel. Sonia Fischl fearlessly clambered up rock faces for a 15m jump into its depths while photographer Stephen „Whitey‟ Whitesell giggled like a kid with a group of girls after swimming through the „storm‟ of the waterfall‟s veil. We were all hungry for the feast of vegetarian curry and even primed for another session on the kava, accompanied as always by strumming guitars and Fijian songs by our hosts and friendly visitors from the village. DAY FOUR – Freestyle Pro Competition The wind had picked up overnight and under the towering coconut palms on Kenia it felt as though it was howling 50 knots. The girls filled up on a good breakfast of fried bread, muesli and fresh pineapple and papaya before putting on raincoats and heading off to an island 40 minutes boat ride away. With honking wind, Cindy and safety co-ordinator Nathan Faavae made the call to run a freestyle competition with the professional riders and the girls didn‟t disappoint, putting on an inspiring show for social riders. “It was really blowing hard and even though I admit I didn‟t feel like competing, hearing all the girls cheering from the beach was amazing,” said Kristen Boese later that night. Kristen took out first place in the competition, followed by Poland‟s Anja Grzelinska and Petra Goeschl in third. A planned visit to the nearby village of Waisomo had to be postponed because of rough seas, but the women of the village weren‟t going to let anything stop them from presenting the girls with a delicious feed of fresh seafood and delicacies like coconut- marinated taro. Dressed in their finest bright red and yellow floral dresses, the ladies traveled through choppy seas in the dark of night to Kenia armed with giant plates of food, managing to arrive onshore miraculously dry and with not a single tasty morsel lost overboard. DAY FIVE – Downwind Race to the Vabea Women‟s Club Waking up to the familiar sound of wind shaking the coconut palms, the girls gathered their gear for a team race downwind to Nagara Pt from Jo‟s Place, a half hour boat ride from Kenia. Jo has planted out an orchard of tropical fruit and nut trees with the intention of running a guest lodge for people to stay and live off the land. He was busily mowing his lawns as the girls launched their kites and rode in the lagoon in front of his resort. The social division riders played a while in the lagoon and then headed off to the sound of the competition hooter, racing downwind to Nagara Pt in a thrilling first-time competition for many of the girls. Anyone struggling with the challenge was tirelessly given first-hand attention by Cindy and Kristen, two legends who‟ve reached the pinnacle of the sport but still have a passion for helping other girls reach their own goals. After lunch at the beach we climbed into boats for the village of Waisomo, where school children had rehearsed all week for a show especially for the kiting girls. Dressed in Fijian cloth dresses and skirts made of leaves, the littlies sang and danced like professionals, never letting a wrong dance move or the ensuing howls of laughter from their mums distract them. Some things are so cute they make you cry. The performance was followed up with afternoon tea at the Vabea Women‟s Club, which deserves to be as famous for its joyous and heartwarming singing as Cuba‟s Buena Vista Social Club. There was nothing else for it but to dance – so we followed the cue of a gorgeous little girl from the village and rocked out. DAY SIX – Freeriding and sausage sliding! Inspired by what they‟d seen from the best women kiters in the world, the 14 social division riders teamed up with the pro girls to cruise downwind to Nagara Pt for a day of freeriding and coaching clinics followed by an Expression Session. Cindy had planned a whole week of activities in case of no wind but she needn‟t have worried…Kadavu was living up to its reputation as a wind-lover‟s paradise and Nagara Pt was blowing a steady 25knots to 30knots. On the beach, a growing Fijian crowd was gathering. Local boys „Pate‟ and „Riko‟ had walked from their village to Nagara Pt after seeing “parachutes” in the sky and were keen to have a go on one of Cindy‟s North trainer kites after seeing the girls in action. The Fiji Visitor‟s Bureau sports manager Severo Tagicakiverata was also at the beach soaking up the atmosphere. Katiya, Susi, Anja, Petra, Kristen and Cindy took turns busting some huge airs over the Balance Vector film crew in the water, while Laurel, Emma, CJ, Sonia and Andreya sacrificed their time to help the social division riders run through anything they wanted to master ready for their Expression Session. Extra points were awarded for anyone getting creative with the inflatable slider anchored in the bay (dubbed “the sausage” by the pro girls judging on the beach) and effervescent Karen from Florida obliged with a cowgirl style sausage slide that proved a massive crowd-pleaser. There were method and indy grabs, huge airs, 540s, raleys and unhooked moves being thrown down everywhere by the social division riders who had obviously made the most of their coaching sessions with the pro girls. DAY SEVEN – Tears and goodbyes Saying goodbye to the guides and staff at Kenia was harder than any one of us could have imagined. There were tears as the staff sang the traditional Fijian farewell and hugged us all before we joined the boats. Girls had come from all over the world to join Cindy in her dream of an all-girl kiting adventure, and some like Petra had traveled more than 30 hours by plane, car and boat to be there. Getting to Kadavu had been a long journey but for one amazing week it had been our home, and we would miss it. Bring on the Cindy Mosey Island Odyssey next year!