Last weekend, Saturday 27th October 2018, saw a group of Kent Kitesurfers, including our very own Discovery Park manager - Mark Styles, take to the waves for the inaugural ‘Halloween Downwinder’ to raise monies for the RNLI.

Bid as a ‘Kitesurfing Odyssey’ the event was an idea born out of discussions amongst Kent Kitesurfer groups over the last couple of years and was brought together and driven forward by Kite Pirates Kite School teacher Graeme Rolbiecki.

The RNLI was chosen by the groups as some of their members had themselves come unstuck and had to call upon the services of the RNLI, a charity that saves lives at sea across the UK and Ireland. So to show their gratitude and to give something back, the fundraiser was arranged.

Communicate’s Mark Styles reports:

“My alarm went off 05:40am. An early start but a necessary one as I had to ready myself to brave the forecasted bitterly cold North Westerly winds, which were also touching 30+mph!”

“The route planned was to take us East along the coast from Whitstable to Margate (pictured) and I joined a total of 35 kiters as we headed out on the water.”

Rigging up at Whitstable

Mark Continues “We left Whitstable beach just after 8am and all kite-surfed the various bays along the way, enjoying different sea state conditions at each.”

“I say enjoying – it was so bitterly cold, it took me the first 10 minutes to get my hands through the pain barrier, after that I couldn’t feel a thing, so all was good!

All heading off towards Herne Bay, with the old pier in the distance. (Mark Styles in the middle black, red and turquoise kite)

“Anyone not familiar with the coast on that route, it is a sight to behold and has much historic significance. The imposing twin towers of the medieval church at Reculver dominate the skyline of Herne Bay, acting as a navigation marker for ships at sea.

This was the site of one of the earliest Roman forts built against Saxon raids on the 'Saxon Shore'. It later became the site of an Anglo-Saxon monastery before becoming the parish church for Reculver. The tall towers were built in a remodelling of the church in the 12th century.

Unfortunately, much of the site has been lost to coastal erosion, but alongside the twin towers are the ruined remains of the early Roman fort.”

The Reculver twin towers, halfway there

We reached Margate at about 10:30, having completed the 14 mile stretch along the coast. The group was made up of friends from around Kent, who all kite surf together throughout the year at numerous beaches, dependent on wind direction and tide.

All the cold was worth it, however, not only for the priceless views - and I got a Personal Record (PR) that day, jumping 9.1m high - but we smashed our fundraising target with over £1,000 being raised for the RNLI.

We’d like to thank everyone for their very kind support and if you didn’t manage to support at the time, our JustGiving page is still open and can be accessed here

In front of the Reculver twin towers, halfway there