Ken Droog gets a hug from his daughters before he takes off from Columbia Beach last year.

Kiting for Kids makes its return to Oceanside

Kiteboarders start campaigning for a cause in Parksville Qualicum

Mother Nature has been uncooperative so far, stalling the second annual Kiting For Kids fundraising endeavour that will see 24 kiteboarders sail across the Georgia Strait and back to raise money for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

Last April for the inaugural crossing, there was no shortage of wind when just a handful of participants launched from Columbia Beach in Parksville.

That epic journey saw Ken Droog of Parksville, Dennis McDonald of Parksville, Harold Grindl of Nanoose Bay and Allan Barry of Nanaimo head out in winds so strong that only two completed the task.

In the end, one kite was shredded, one board was lost and two kiteboarders were overpowered by howling winds but the team who made up Kiting For Kids generated $10,000 for the B.C. Children’s Hospital Foundation.

This year’s fundraising goal is $20,000 and with two dozen participants involved, the group has already raised more than $14,000.

Droog who, a realtor with RE/MAX First, is spearheading the campaign and he said the challenge the participants face range from the required wind and the variables of the Georgia Strait, which is known to produce gale-force winds and high seas.

“Right now, Mother Nature is playing with us and we are watching the weather closely,” he said.

“When we see that we are going to get a consistent wind on both sides of the Strait we will go but there are instances when it will show 20 knots at San Pareil but only six knots in Davis Bay. To get from the Island to the Mainland and back we need a full system with a lot of wind.”

He said the target is 20 knots and if they see a forecast of 20 to 25 knots they will go but if it is a lot more than that it could be too dangerous.

“Last year it was barely 20 knots on this side and when we hit Lasqueti Island it was 35 with gusts up to 40 knots and it was a very intense ride. A third of the way across the strait I lost a board and was blown off the board with the gusts and the boat had to retrieve it. We are at the mercy of Mother Nature.”

He said this year there are more participants, so the logistics are more challenging but he pointed out they have added extra support boats.

“We have some very talented kite boarders from around Vancouver Island and the mainland joining us in the 2014 crossing. It should be quite the spectacle out on the Strait.”

This year, Droog said the group is launching from Pipers Lagoon in Nanaimo.

“We will likely return to Pipers Lagoon but that may change depending on the wind and direction.”

As the date to make the immense return crossing nears, so does the deadline to make their equally immense fundraising goal but Droog said he is confident they will.

“Each participant is tasked with trying to raise $500 this year and some have raised more than that.”

Still not on board is Sir Richard Branson.

The flamboyant British billionaire who is an avid kiteboarder has been invited to take part but Droog said so far he has declined.

The B.C. Hospital Foundation has a donation button on their website so people can feel confident they are donating directly to building a brand new Children’s Hospital in the province. For more details visit

www.kitingforkids.com.

 

 

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