Lately I talked to Valentin Bontus, a 16-year-old austrian pro kitesurfer who told me about his experiences traveling one year around the globe with the World Class Kiteboarding Academy. Read more about the experiences he collected during this time, his plans for the next months and his new sponsor.
The story behind
Valentin Bontus started to kitesurf when he was ten years old. Since then he was always intensively following the pros on the net. It was 2014 when he participated for the first time in the Junior PKRA. After this first contact with competitions he was totally hooked. He was always watching countless videos to learn new tricks and to improve his technique. One of his first trainers was Snowkite-Champion Olsen (aka Oliver Palmers).
I asked Claudia, Valentins Mum, about how the family managed to deal with all the organisational effort that comes with the combination of school, training and competitions. She told me that she and her husband are lucky to have their own business and so they could manage that always one of the parents could be on the go with Valentin.
But of course school was – and still is – a logistic challenge. Cause for all of them it’s important that in addition to his professional career he does his school graduation. So the World Class Kiteboard Academy for sure was the best combination of training and not missing anything in school at the same time.
Next stop of the WKL will take place in September in Texel/Netherlands including a Qualification League. So Valentin will try his luck in the adult class. Following stops will depend of if he manages to qualify there. After this there’s a lot of school stuff to do before it goes on to the next training times in Brazil and Cape Town (cause wavestyle is Valentins second hobbyhorse).
It’s also on his wish list to participate in the Twintip Race discipline at the youth olympics in Buenos Aires. But it’s hard to get in contact with the olympic committee for a nomination.
Anyway, lots of good things were going on recently: So Valentin got his first full-sponsoring from Eleveight kites after he was with large majority nominated as a teamrider for this young brand. The year before he was diligently working not only on his skills but particularly on social media activities with pics and videos, and finally the hard work paid off.
In the following he’s telling us more about what he has experienced during his time with the WCKA.
A dream came true: Valentin Bontus’ year in the World Class Kiteboarding Academy
Having the opportunity and spend one year of school in a different school system with people from around the world and traveling to a lot of different countries was the best thing that could have happened to me. Beeing able to study and at the same time beeing able to push the limits of kiteboarding was just amazing!
When my mom first found out about World Class Kiteboard Academy on Facebook last year in April we couldn’t believe that this could be reality. The application progress was quite challenging for me and I was not sure if the school would accept me. After being in touch with the Principal of the school Capo Retting we soon figured out that it was the right thing to do.
“Rethink education” was the key word for my parents to decide to let me participate in this new way of teaching pupils and letting them develop to strong, open minded and self confident young people – but still being under very strict supervision.
The school year was split up into four quarters. In each quarter we traveled to a different country and saw new cultures and different kite spots. We did also have a lot of school though. Even if it sounds super easy and it sounds like there is barely any school going on, academics is number one of the points that the school focuses on. Algebra, World History, Biology, Literature (very tricky for me …), Spanish and Media Class where the subjects I chose.
Every week our mentor (a group of three to five students had one mentor) made a report of our progress – on and off the water – to our parents.
Hood River, Oregon & Maui, Hawaii
Joining the school in the first Quarter in Hood River, Oregon was a bit weird. Entering a new school with people that I didn’t know was really interesting, but after I got to know everyone at the school I finally made friends for my whole life.
My parents dropped me off in Hood River in the beginning of September, and I have to say I think I liked this place the most of all. Having such an impressive landscape and being able to kite in the amazing River Gorge was just sick.
We stayed in an old High school for these four weeks, it reminded me a bit of the scenery of High School Musical Movie. A place where everybody felt comfortable immediately.
After about four weeks of school in Oregon we traveled to Maui, Hawaii which was a dream to come true for all of us. Maui for me was always THE Kite destination where you had to be at least once in your life.
Accomodation in a boys scout camp was rather basic but also really interesting. Meeting so many animals made the stay unforgettable. The combination of inds, waves and exploring nature was for sure unique.
Quarter 2: Brazil
After every quarter students left to go back home for a two week break. After that we all met back together in Fortaleza, Brazil. Everybody was super hyped about kiting in Brazil as it is for sure the best destination for freestyle training. In total we stayed for seven weeks in Brazil where we visited a lot of kite spots and lagoons.
First we went to Barra Nova which was a really good start because there were not too many people there and we had a very big lagoon almost all for ourself. After staying one week in Barra Nova we left for three weeks to Cumbuco which is the most popular spot in brazil. It was amazing there. We stayed in two houses with self catering and everyday we had the opportunity to kite in Cauipe lagoon.
Last but not least our third destination in Brazil was Taíba. At this place we all got a lot better with landing a lot of new tricks and also had the chance to see a lot of pros that helped us with our technique. All of the students loved Brazil because of the perfect conditions on the water which helped them progress a lot.
Quarter 3: Panama & Colombia
Coming to Panama and shift back over to choppy water after having a great time only on flat water in Brazil was quite challenging. But finally we all managed to land our tricks even in trickier conditions. We stayed at the Nitro City Hotel, which basically is the main and only nice hotel in Punta Chame. Staying there was really fun because even when there was no wind and studies where over there were a lot of things to do: Cable park for wakeboarding, paint ball, pump track, archery, table tennis and much more.
And we stayed in comfortable hotel rooms directly on the spot – so no time wasted to get on the water right after studies. Although we had so much to do in Nitro City we did also have to plan our time so that we where able to get all our homework done cause the schools policy is: “no homework – no kiting”. Panama was sick, but we didn’t really see a lot about the country after staying all the time in a comfortable hotel.
Colombia, the 2nd stop in Quarter 3, was way more adventurous. We travelled through the country for four weeks searching for some really nice spots to see some new and different cultures. Our first stop in Colombia was Cartagena. We didn’t really have a lot of wind there but it was really nice to experience all the locals and the town of Cartagena.
But the best spot we went to in Colombia was Cabo de la Vela in the north of the country. Cabo de la Vela is a really small “town” with limited electricity, food, and water. Conditions we never thought people could live with.
Colombia probably didn’t have the best wind-output but was the most amazing stop for us for seeing different cultures, food, landscapes and languages.
Quarter 4: Morocco & Tarifa
Arriving in Morocco made us aware that our last quarter together had started and somehow made the group growing even closer to each other. After riding a whole year almost only on flat water and not really having waves it was amazing to spend some time in Moulay which is a small town close to Essaouira. Moulay offered us some amazing waves and great wind.
After one week there we took off for Dakhla which is a spot located in the desert of the Western Sahara. We stayed at a hotel called Dakhla Attitude which offers rooms and tent accommodation. We loved being hosted by the friendly staff of the hotel and being able to stay right at the spot. After finishing school lessions in the morning we could hit the speed spot right away. A flat lagoon spot at the hotel gave us great opportunity to practice. In the afternoons we did great downwind sessions to the white dune or the wave spot.
For me the highlight of this quarter was of course Tarifa. This place offered us flat water and waves, whatever we wanted to. We also had a lot of days with really strong Levante and some days with lighter Poniente winds. When there was Poniente it was really good for some freestyle at Playa de los Lances because there you have a huge lagoon with some amazing flat water. During Levante I really loved it to kite right in the town of Tarifa at a spot called Balneario. That spot is just amazing, strong off shore winds that make jumping and mega looping super sick!
For me Tarifa was the best location because I had a great time going big and getting the adrenaline that I wanted to – but also I had the opportunity to freestyle and improve my style of riding a lot.
We stayed in a fantastic huge and super beautiful hacienda right outside of Tarifa town. Finally by middle of May all parents arrived to celebrate the graduation with us. A very emotional ceremony followed by a huge night out in Tarifa. Celebration time!
Overall I have to say that this year is something I will always remember. A year where I met so many people and made friends for a lifetime. I could never imagine before, that teachers could also be friends, but WCKA tought me different.
Thank you World Class for the experience and I hope to be back with my kite family soon!
If you want to know what Valentin Bontus is up to at the moment just check his social media accounts:
Valentin Bontus Kiteboarding on Facebook