By Jason Goorman
Local Sports Journal
The King of the Great Lakes Test Fest has arrived in Grand Haven and no one is more excited than area kiteboarders.
The three-day event takes place at Grand Haven City Beach and is sponsored by MacKite Surf Shop. Action kicks off on Friday, runs through Sunday, Sept. 29 and will feature the industry’s top gear.
Pro kiteboarder Chris Bobryk flew in from Hatteras, N.C. on Thursday with his pal from Best Kiteboarding Steve Borja. The two sat down with the Local Sports Journal and a group of friends at Handsome Henry’s in Norton Shores to talk about KOGL and kiteboarding.
Borja arrived with Bobryk to get a taste of kiteboarding, west Michigan style.
The Miami native Borja, saw his first Lake Michigan sunset on Thursday and was awestruck by the mass size of the body of water.
Area kitboarders will be joined by a plethora of gurus from around the Midwest. The most notable is Bobryk who currently rides for Best Kiteboards on the PKRA World Tour. Also dotting the Lake Michigan horizon will be long time local expert Marc Hoeskema.
The Whitehall native Bobryk got his start kiteboarding here in west Michigan and worked for MacKite in the early stages of his career.
Bobyrk acknowledges how key MacKite and owner Steve Negen have been in his endevor of the sport.
“My first job was working for him (Negen),” said Bobryk. “I worked there four years through high school during the summer.”
The local scene is how many kids find their way through the ranks explains Borja.
“They’re (local shops) the ones on the ground that are at the local spot that know exactly what’s going on that can give us the feed back on who’s the talent and who’s the one that’s going to push the sport,” said Borja. “The local shops that carry the brand and are on the beach.”
Area kiteboarders will be getting their fix throughout the weekend and MacKite will be hosting demos of the industry’s leaders.
Best Kiteboarding, Slingshot Kiteboarding, North Kiteboarding, Cabrinha Kiteboarding, HQ PowerKites and Liquid Force Kiteboarding will all host gear for boarders to try out.
Friday’s festivities kickoff at 1 p.m. with a race seminar and will be followed by racing if winds permit and demos of the top gear in the industry. The day will be concluded with a 7 p.m. party at Mulligan’s Hollow Lodge and an Indie Rock Festival that starts at 9 p.m.
Saturday will be no different with racing, kiteboarding contests and demos taking place throughout the day. The Indie Rock Festival will cap off the day’s festivities at 7 p.m. MacKite will open up its shop for a 7 p.m. party for attendees and spectators.
Sunday’s events continue with demos, course racing, contests and awards at around 5 p.m.
One thing that Bobryk quickly pointed out about the weekend is he’s here to have fun.
“This weekend is more about having fun, testing out the gear and not so much about contests,” said Bobryk.
Getting a break and relaxing at his local spot in Grand Haven is something Bobryk enjoys. His schedule of competition on the PKRA has had him competing around the world in places like Italy and Germany.
There isn’t a PKRA stop in the U.S. yet. But who knows, anything can happen with shops like MacKite around and kiteboarding experts like Bobryk coming up through the ranks.
Maybe Bobryk’s pal Borja can spark up a million dollar brainstorm with Negen on Grand Haven beach this weekend. Why not, is there a better office setting for a conversation like that?