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Harnessing wind power: Santa Fe as next training ground for Olympic-bound kiteboarders

Santa Fe as the next training ground for Olympic-bound kiteboarders

Kiteboarders in action during the 9th ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Association (PKA) Tour in Santa Fe, Cebu on Feb. 18, 2024. | Photo from Alex Badayos of Sugbo News

CEBU CITY, Philippines — Summer came in early this year in Santa Fe in Bantayan Island, Cebu.

One weekend in February, kites were flying over the town’s coasts in Barangay Ocoy, dotting the skies in colorful specks. But these were not ordinary kites.

Spanning up to 10 meters in width, which is equivalent to three, king-sized beds, they were definitely bigger than the ones children used to play with during summer vacation.

These kites were designed to harness the power of the wind so surfers like Cab Fernando can ride with the sea waves, and unleash their love for kiteboarding.

“Santa Fe is indeed a great spot for kiteboarding,” he said.

The town was once again selected to host the third leg for the 9th season of the ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Association (PKA) Tour, one of the largest kiteboarding competitions nationwide.

Over a hundred participants, including athletes from overseas, joined the three-day event which ran from February 16 to February 18.

This was not the first time Santa Fe was selected to be part of the annual PKA tour. In fact, organizers are looking at making Santa Fe as a training ground for kiteboarders joining the Olympics.

Santa Fe as next training ground for Olympic-bound kiteboarders

Kiteboarders with their power kites lining up on Santa Fe’s Ocoy coastline for the 9th ICTSI – Philippine Kiteboarding Association (PKA) Tour on Feb. 16, 2024. | Photo courtesy of Tresh Eñerez of Santa Fe Kiteschool

Kiteboarding or kitesurfing will be making its debut in the Olympics in Paris 2024.

Santa Fe is an ideal destination to train kiteboarders who want to compete in prestigious international competitions like the Olympics, said PKA President Jay Ortiz.

READ MORE: PH kiteboarding competition returns to Santa Fe in Bantayan

The PKA is also eyeing to form and send kiteboarding representatives for the Philippines in the 2028 Olympics.

“Basically, the spot is ideal for foil board…You can easily go out on a foil board and train and this is why we see a potential in training the national team here,” Ortiz told CDN Digital in an interview.

And local stakeholders welcomed it, adding that they are up to the challenge of promoting the locality’s potential for kiteboarding.

Santa Fe ideal for kiteboarding

Santa Fe formed part of Bantayan Island in northwestern Cebu, together with Bantayan and Madridejos.

Santa Fe as the next training ground for Olympic-bound kiteboarders

Powerkites parked along the Ocoy coasts in Santa Fe, Cebu during the first day of the 9th ICTSI Philippine Kiteboarding Association (PKA) Tour | CDN Digital Photo by Morexette Marie Erram

It is known for its fine, white-sand beaches as well as the gateway to Bantayan Island.

The municipality’s wide coastline and the constant sea breeze surrounding it also make it a kiteboarder’s dream. No wonder why the PKA had been including it in its circuit four times already.

“Because you have your wind. And it’s easy for kiteboarders to go from the shore to the seas,” Fernando, who is also the co-director of this year’s ICTSI PKA Tour, said in a mix of English and Tagalog.

Local organizers also agreed with what Ortiz proposed, and they could not help but express optimism for the town’s future in kiteboarding.

“We’re really hopeful we can achieve it,” said Guillermo Guerrero of Santa Fe Kiteschool, one of the local organizers for the Santa Fe stop of the 9th ICTSI PKA Tour.


For the Santa Fe-based kiteboarder instructor, Santa Fe is ready to become the next training ground for kiteboarders bound for the Olympics.

He cited not only the favorable wind conditions and expansive coastlines but also the town’s thriving economy.

“We’ve got accommodations, infrastructure, and connectivity. We can say Santa Fe is ready,” Guerrero added.

What is kiteboarding?

Kiteboarding is a type of sailing sports. Surfers rely on wind-propelled power kites to surf across any surface using boards. These boards can come in different types – be they surfboards, foils, or e-foils.

But to power through the waves, surfers need wind speeds of at least 10 knots, said Fernando.

In Santa Fe, wind can reach between eight to 12 knots on a normal, sunny day.

Santa Fe as next training ground for Olympic-bound kiteboarders

A foreign contestant preparing his power kite | Photo from Alex Badayos of Sugbo News

Before heading to Bantayan Island, this year’s participants also visited the islands of Siquijor and Cagbalete in Quezon province.

According to Fernando, part of PKA’s mission was to also promote destinations in the Philippines.

“One of our association’s goals is to help boost local tourism in the Philippines, and this is why we do kiteboarding tours,” he explained.

Last January, they decided to make a stop at Siquijor Island, which is over 300 kilometers southwest of Bantayan Island, for this year’s PKA tour.

“Siquijor is also an emerging destination for kiteboarding. Before, nobody knew about kiteboarding in Siquijor. Now, there’s a growing interest in it on the island,” said Fernando.

Kiteboarders like Fernando not only enjoyed their time competing in the Island of Fire but also felt elated they were able to help locals there find means of livelihood through kiteboarding.

“It’s not just about kiteboarding but it’s also about helping our communities,” he added.

Future of kiteboarding in PH

When Covid-19 arrived, like almost all sectors of society, kiteboarding in the Philippines suffered a slump. Pre-pandemic, kiteboarding’s popularity had been steadily rising, said Ortiz.

But now that the public health crisis waned, proponents hoped to revive its momentum, considering it remained one of the country’s fastest-growing sail sports.

Santa Fe as next training ground for Olympic-bound kiteboarders

Participants compete in the twin-tip foil race category of the 9th ICTSCI Philippine Kiteboarding Association (PKA) Tour in Santa Fe, Cebu | Photo from Alex Badayos of Sugbo News

“We’re still reeling from the pandemic but we’re doing our best to promote and to train our athletes for international events. The momentum was a little bit lost because of the pandemic but we’re trying to get back to that momentum,” Ortiz added.

In addition, the PKA president also hoped to see more kiteboarders from Santa Fe and Cebu.

“We wish to see more kiteboarders, especially from Cebu and Bantayan Island and the association is here to lend our advice and support for Cebu’s growth in tourism,” said Ortiz.


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TAGS: Cebu, Cebu Daily News, cebu news, Santa Fe
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