ISLAMORADA, Florida Keys — Kiteboarders and wing foilers from around the world blow into Islamorada for the Wind Games Feb. 9-11 on the Atlantic Ocean beach at Whale Harbor, mile marker 83.4.
Presented by Otherside Boardsports, the Wind Games includes five unique games that are expected to attract professional-level athletes as well as recreational enthusiasts. All games are scored using a cumulative point system.
The fun begins Friday, Feb. 9, from 3-10 p.m., with rider check-in and the “rail jam,” an open riding session during which participants encounter obstacles like ramps and rails. The Sandbar at Whale Harbor hosts a welcome party for participants and spectators with live music, food and drink specials, and a prime view of the warmup action from its rooftop deck.
Saturday, Feb. 10, games take place from 9 a.m. until sunset, with a 7 p.m. after party at Ocean View Inn and Sports Pub, mile marker 84.5 bayside.
Sunday, Feb. 11, the games begin at 9 a.m. An awards ceremony is slated for 5 p.m. on the beach.
The schedule of game activities each day is to be determined closer to the event based on weather conditions. The games require at least 12 knots of wind to proceed. The “rain dates,” which are actually “no wind dates,” are Feb. 16-18.
Game 1 in the series is a 12-mile round-trip race around Alligator Reef Lighthouse. Racers can choose between the categories of kiteboard, kite foil or wing foil. All registration dollars from the race support the Save Alligator Light nonprofit organization working on the lighthouse’s preservation and restoration.
Game 2 is the crowd-pleasing freestyle competition where top athletes show off their skills. Big air and technical tricks are to be scored by a panel of judges in the categories of professional, amateur, women, youth and masters.
During Game 3, the poker run, riders are provided waterproof score cards. They are to maneuver to boats positioned offshore until they have collected a five-card, luck-of-the-draw poker hand. The best hand wins.
Game 4 is a team relay. Teams of four kiteboarders race around the course one at a time, with the kite and kiteboard serving as the baton that’s passed from one rider to another. Fans typically line the beach to cheer for their favorite teams during the nail-biter competition.
Game 5 is an ultimate fan favorite — the “floatie fail.” Teams of two have a single kite and swap out their kiteboards for an oversized inflatable bird float in the quirky and hilarious just-for-fun downwind race. Floats include giant flamingos, swans, ducks and more. The first team through the finish line wins.
Registration for the games opens Jan. 9.
Information: windgames2024.com or 305-853-9728
The 2024 Wind Games take place Feb 9-11 off the Atlantic Ocean beach at Whale Harbor in Islamorada. Photo: Andy Newman
Spectators can watch the Wind Games action from the beach and the deck at The Sandbar. Photo: Damien LeRoy
Registration dollars from the 12-mile race around Alligator Reef Lighthouse will benefit the Save Alligator Light restoration efforts.
Riders swap out boards for giant blowup birds and other creatures for the fan favorite floatie fail team competition. Photo: Damien LeRoy