Tabuhan Island Pro Event 2015 Review

Paul and I have always wanted to check out kitesurfing in Indo in summer season when southeast wind prevails. Early this year when we heard from Jeroen from Bangsring Breeze Resort in East Java that there would be the 2nd Tabuhan Island Pro Kitesurfing Event happening on 22nd, 23rd of August, we didn’t waste time at all, we said ‘Yes, we are in!’


Jeroen has been living in Indonesia for quite a long time, he had been surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing, so he knows all the good spots for windsurfing and kitesurfing. “I have had a great 7 years just playing not doing much work, now it’s time for me to help Jannah with the business”, Jeroen says. Bangsring Breeze Resort is one of their business adventures for his wife Jannah and himself. With 5 exquisite rooms, it sits on the hill side overlooking the strait between Bali and Java.

Drone view of Bangsring Breeze Resort

Each year around May, the South Easterly trade winds reach Indonesia. This marks the end of the raining season and the start of the dry season, or as we like to name it, the Windy Season. Where in Bali we have come to accept these trade winds will hardly ever blow over 15 knots, in East Java and in particular at Bangsring Breeze, it’s a whole different story. These same South Easterly trade winds get funnelled through the narrow strait between the islands of Bali and Java. Add the mountainous terrain on both sides of this strait and the temperature differences between the land and ocean surface temperatures and you will have the perfect recipes for strong, constant wind. As a cherry on the pie, right there where the trade winds are the strongest and most constant, lays a small uninhabited atoll enshrined with white sandy beaches and turquoise waters, named Pulau Tabuhan.

With Banyuwangi Mayor on stage at Media Press

Pulau Tabuhan is described as a picture perfect flat water spot for those who love freeriding and throwing their latest tricks in super smooth water. Beautiful untouched scenery, combined with steady trade winds of up to 25 knots between May and November, will make this the newest kite -and windsurf destination in Southeast Asia.”
This year Jeroen was working with Banyuwangi local government and Rip Curl Kitesurfing School in Bali organized the second event. There are other sponsors for this event, Airush, Beach Hut, Surftime, Freedom Kiteboarding Magazine, Huna Board, and, of course, Best Kiteboarding.
By the time we reached East Java, we had spent two weeks in Banda Aceh and almost one month in Bali kiting the waves. Especially in Bali, the waves were super nice but the wind was light, with our 11m Cabo, we just managed to kite, with some local legends Sky Mana, Jason Wolcott and Omah Ashton among the local crew who frequently flew their 15m and 17m kites. Our 8m Cabo was never pumped up in Bali. Really look forward to seeing what East Java had to offer.

Rubbing shoulder with local government officials

The media press for the 2015 Tabuhan Island Pro kitesurfing event was held at the beautiful Bangsring Breeze Resort. Best team rider Niklas Langseth and Meiju Ketola who was sponsored by Best Kiteboarding Sweden, and I representing the athletes joined Jeroen and the Mayor on stage doing speeches and answering questions. I don’t know about others, but it was the first time for me to speak in front of government officials and TV crews and journalists, I was very nervous but managed to promote Best Kiteboarding to the new territory.

Jeroen doing a speech in fluent Indonesian Bahasa

Traditional Gamelan players

The next day, Jeroen took the four of us along with the new arrival Jason Wolcott and his two riders for his Freedom Kiteboarding Magazine, Joshua Stephens and Dan Sweeney to Tabuhan to test the water and the wind. We were all first timers to the island. Niklas and I did a downwinder from where Jeroen’s boat was anchored, the rest of them went on the boat. Once we got there, we were surprised by the white beach, turquoise water, strong wind condition, untouched nature. Tents set, kites pumped, the rest of them couldn’t wait to get on the water. The wind was stronger, white caps everywhere.
We all had a great time!

Paul was doing laps around the island

Jason filming Dan Sweeney

Joreon doing boat support with a style

Happy faces at the end of the day(sorry Dan the captain missed you)

One day before the event took place, Paul and I decided to skip kiting for the day and visit Kawah Ijen, which is 2799m above sea level. It has a one-kilometer-wide turquoise-colored acid crater lake.

The lake is the site of a labor-intensive sulfur mining operation. We hiked three kilometers up from the car park, here it is, amazing landscape, sulfur gas roaming around the rim of the crater, deep down was the largest highly acidic crater lake in the world.

The surrounding view was spectacular!

So was the sunset! On the way back it was pitch black already, but there were millions of shining stars above our heads.

I didn’t have the right camera to catch the moment unfortunately but it will in the memory forever.

On 21st was the registration day and hopping on the boat to the island. The government has sponsored with all the logistics. Imagine everything for the event had to be shipped to the island as well. After a short ride, we were on the island with 40 other riders and a lot of local tourists. Tent set, stage set, judge tower set, kitchen set, toilets set, all the riders needed to do was to put a good performance on. It was so good to see some familiar faces on this paradise island! New friends made as well!

With Navy Polisi rescue crew, they call it ‘Bay Watch’

The island is set

Meiju heading out to perfect her unhooked raley

Mindy enjoying his sunset session

Jeroen and Jannah organized their staff and their families from Bangsring Breeze to be the kitchen force. 40 plus riders with all the onsite government workers, six meals in total, that was a lot of mouths to feed, a lot of dishes to be washed, and they did extremely well, especially on an island with no human habitats. Thank you guys!!

Jeroen, Luca and Paul dancing along

Skipper’s meeting

On 22nd, the competition began, after skipper’s meeting and briefing, The Mayor arrived on a Navy Polisi’s boat. The race began! Men’s fleet first. I used 8m Cabo and 135cm Admiral board to compete with other five girls who were using 12m mostly. As a wave kite, the Cabo gave me the advantage of going upwind well, Admiral board cut all the chops on the east, south, west side of the island, I was very surprised.

After two laps around the island, I finished first, half island ahead of the girl who came after me. As soon I got back to the beach, I was told that five out of six girls were disqualified, four of us shot off before the horn beeped including me, the last one lost her board so had to be rescured. Disqualify. So there was only one girl who finished the race, here comes the Champion, Bi! The judge team suggested to do a rematch for the 2nd and 3rd places the next day if time permits. Bring it on Johnny! Really enjoyed the adrenaline rush! Coincidently, the competition coordinator’s name is Johnny!!

Me was going around the first buoy while Meiju was tacking After lunch is the freestyle competition. Men first again. Here we’ve got Dan Sweeney from Cabrinha, Josh Stephens from Star Kites/Axis board, 14 yo Christian Tio from North, Yo from Ozone, Niklas from Best Kiteboarding, these are all pro riders, and other highly skilled boys from different countries, it will be an interesting game to watch. Single elimination. Good luck! I was not a freestyler but I understand old school trick names, much easier to understand, but 313, 315, 317, KGB, Blind Judge 5, back mob?? Are those KGB or CIA codes? I guess some of you who are familiar with these names could tell that the level of the competition was high.

Throughout the two day event, any riders can take one of the three Rip Curl GPS watches to do a speed trial for 15 minutes, whoever scores the fastest will win a brand new GPS watch. Sweet deal! Aussie boy Joshua Stephens from Star Kites/Axis Board locked the win by 52 mph. Meiju was the fastest among girls at 39.6 mph.

The sun was setting behind Kawah Ijen, it was a beautiful day finishing. The dinner is ready! It was a buffet for every meals. I even managed to get a massage in the tent we stay, all the pain in the legs from edging upwind hard is gone. Tomorrow is a new day! I have a new body!
There was a Reggie band for the night so a lot of riders gathered in front of the stage, singing and dancing along. What a fun we all had.

Big Air was the highlight of the event. Big air scores 80% while technique stuff only does 20%. Our local Indonesian boy Ramong took 17m for big boost. Niklas took the 15m first with the Admiral board as he wanted to do some old school tricks but then the wind picked up, he went back to his Profanity board with boots and 13m GP kite. Paul was in the first heat with Niklas and another boy. He did really well, jumping high, pulling off dead man, bum wiggling, if you call it a trick, but he made everybody laugh on the beach, quite entertaining. In other heats, Both Yo and Dan pulled off 1440 rotations, far out! How could they still find where to land?

The wind became lighter when Men’s final was on, all 5 boys went out, but a couple of them couldn’t even remain upwind. The judges had to call the game off, lunch time anyway. Then only minutes after, the wind picked up again so the possible star of women’s Big Air was announced. Meiju and Madlen in the first heat, me and Bi the second. Unfortunately Madlen’s kite and my kite fell of the sky when wind suddenly span and dropped, we had to be rescued by the navy polisi boat. We share the 3rd on the podium. Later I learned, Meiju came 1st, Bi, 2nd. Well done girls! There wasn’t enough wind for the boys to finish the final, so they got to share 1st on the podium and prize money. Result: Race: Men: 1st Doque(PHI) 2nd Yo(THA) 3rd Ramong(IDR)

Women: 1st Bi(FRA) 2nd Meiju(FIN) 3rd Fu(AUS)

Freestyle: Men: 1st Dan(AUS) 2nd Christian(PHI) 3rd Yo(THA))

Women: 1st Meiju(FIN) 2nd Bi(FRA)

Big Air: Men(Shared podium): Dan(AUS), Yo(THA), Niklas(SWE), Bobby(THA), Lolo(IDR) Women: 1st Meiju(FIN) 2nd Bi(FRA) 3rd Fu(AUS)+Madlen(GER)

Speed Trial: Men: Joshua(AUS) - 52mph

Women: Meiju(FIN) – 39mph
Meiju has been the star of the event – she excelled in all women’s disciplines, being a very good representative forBest Kiteboarding. Besides the prize money she won a Procreator board for winning in freestyle, couldn’t find a better person to have it, Meiju deserved it.

It has been a fantastic event we all had. Special thanks to Banyuwangi government who provided the lodging and transportation, and Johnny, Luca and Ben from Rip Curl school who had organized the event very well. They were most entertaining too. Especially Luca, our MC, without his commentating, the event would just be some crazy people jumping around with kites. Due to the exposure to the sun for too long and not enough water intake, Luca collapsed at the judge booth. He was given IV by the paramedics. We hope he recovers soon.

Luca still on IV was carried to the award ceremony We also need to thank Jeroen and Jannah from Bangsring Breeze who initiated this event, coordinated all parties, contact riders and make the event so successful! We all had a great weekend at Tabuhan Island.

By now most riders have gone on their next journey. Paul and I will continue our trip searching the perfect waves in Indo. Tomorrow we are heading down southeast of Java, to where you could find a secret wave spot with kiteable wind. Tabuhan, we will be back! Ride with us!

Photo credit: Jeroen, Doque, Paul, Maria, Olga

Check out Tabuhan Island Pro Facebook and follow for updates and latest news. 2015 Tabuhan Island Pro took place on 22nd, 23rd August 2015 on Tabuhan Island, East Jav

Written by Fu Sumsion.