Coming back to the DR is such a treat for me, its always nice to see familiar faces and reconnect with friends on my travels, the people along with experiences are truly what makes trips like this special. Cabarete calls for the gathering of an epic group of passionate and talented Watermen, especially when the Master Of The Ocean is on in Town! Everyday with the #MasterOfTheOcean is the best day ever for me; hanging out at the beach all day surfing all the wave riding vehicles that the conditions will allow us to and being pushed by our friends. Being held in beautiful Cabarete in Dominican Republic we are lucky enough to be in the heart of watersport heaven for everything east of the west coast with warm water and weather, strong winds on any average day and playful Caribbean style waves that you can always find a ride on no matter how small the swell is! Whether you are coming to just vacation or get extreme with water sports, everyone can have a good time here.
When training for this event since last years’ competition my sister, Shelby Schweitzer, was inspired to also start picking up her experience and skills in her windsports, since she already is a ripper in surf and SUP Surf she was confident for a good result! Whats so special about this competition is that it pushes us athletes to not only excel in our strong suits, but more importantly motivates us to be experienced all around, even if that means we get to become a kook again and learn from a lower level of experience than we are used to in our area of expertise. There are not many people in the world that have become an expert in the 4 major surf sports of the world; Surf, SUP Surf, Windsurf and Kitesurf, but if there is anyone close to it, they most likely are competing here at the Master of the Ocean! Since my first event competing in the #MOTO in 2014 I have been so inspired to pick up my skills in Kitesurf, since this is by far my lowest skill set out of my ocean sports. In 2014 I threw myself out into my first kitesurfing event, let alone it was only my 4th time ever kitesurfing! I didn’t make it far, well at least in the kiting leg of the competition, but I definitely made it far down the coast being controlled by the kite knowing I had to leave the beach to achieve an overall result! Since then, it has inspired me and motivated me to practice my kitesurfing along with make a few heats, especially since I am here again in DR defending my title!!
The weather wasn’t totally cooperating with us the first few days that we arrived; our days set aside where we planned to practice Kiting and windsurfing.. It was raining and overcast coming into the start of the event, but with a major blessing from the gods, we scored some of the best waves I’ve seen and surfed in the DR during our first 2 days of competition, along with beautiful sunny skies that cleared up for us just in time for the opening day of competition. Although the wind was still super light and we didn’t start the wind sport events until our 3rd day of competition, which worked out because we were able to get great conditions for the early rounds of Surf and SUP surf divisions. I was super excited to get out and compete in my first heat of KiteSurfing because I knew I would do better than my results the past 2 years. I still have not yet reached the point of confidence as where I would have liked to be since I have not had much time to practice kitesurfing with my crazy hectic schedule training and competing on the SUWT/SUWS. I had a great start and rhythm coming from my first ever advancement in a kitesurf heat and even won my heat of the first round putting me straight to round 3 and earning my best result yet in Kiting. I wasn’t expecting to make to the finals of kiting because I still consider myself a bit of a kook in the sport, but thats why its so exciting; after every session I feel major improvement! Especially with the contingency of talented kiters here in Cabarete and as well coming from around the world to compete in this years event, I couldn’t get my hopes up too high! The windsurfing on the other hand was a blast!! We scored some epic wave riding and some exciting action to kick off the start of Windsurfing, especially with guys like Diony from Venezuela and the local rippers, Tiki and Franzi, here to conquer the Windsurf division for their hometown.
We had 3 solid days of competition banging out more than half of our event in some really fun conditions for all our sports, I was grateful to have came here well prepared with a diverse quiver for most conditions, including big sails by NorthSails for light wind and some big boards by Starboard courtesy of Vella Windsurf school who were nice enough to lend Shelby and I a bigger board than we brought. For most of the competition in windsurf I rode my North Sails 4.7 and 5.6, in Kitesurf my AirRush 10 meter wave kite, for SUP my promodel Starboard 7’1” x 24” and for Surf my Starboard AMP 5’7”.
We were fortunate enough to finish off the Windsurfing event with great conditions and I was awarded the champion of the windsurf leg of the event with 3 good wave rides and a big back loop that truly secured my 1st place finish! As quick as the waves and wind came, they were gone, or at least for what we were hoping for at our primary event site of Encuentro Beach. With more than enough time in our holding period to finish the event we waited 2 days for conditions to get better than had to make due with a change in plans.. Fortunately enough the Master of The Ocean knows the importance of adapting with the ever changing conditions and we had the opportunity to go mobile with the event!
During the 2 lay days while the organizers and staff of the MOTO transferred the event, the athletes were not stopping the fun and lay day activities were on! Cabarete and the DR has so much to offer, and we are stoked to be in the center of the action being hosted at the 5 Star Millennium resort, just walking distance to where we can enjoy the beautiful beaches, night life and restaurants. Brandon Sanford and his girlfriend Sativa have treated us as family every time we arrive to DR, its always that much more of a cultural experience submersing yourself with the locals and their lifestyle and thats how I love to experience places, local style. Eating out and drinking is somewhat affordable in Cabarete and there are a lot of people from all over the world that come to vacation and experience this tropical escape so close to the east coast, and Europe.
We moved the competition site to a location that was able to pick up a bit more of the current minimal swell, but like I mentioned before, even on the worst day in Dominican Republic you can always find something to surf #SomwhereInDR. We finished off the event in conditions that were not ideal but none the less we got it done with style and with the modo of the MOTO in mind, fly high and surf! I ended up finishing 2nd in the SUP Surf event after a great performance from Francisco from Venezuela in conditions that were hard for me to find a wave! Thats how it goes sometimes with surf events in minimal conditions! For the Surf I ended up finishing 3rd and in the Kitesurf I finished 4th. With the overall tally of scores at the closing ceremony which took place at Millennium hotel during a huge concert on the beach with hundreds of people. I was also very proud of my little sister, Shelby, for doing so awesome, competing in every discipline and achieving 2nd place for the women division of the Overall event!!! We had an epic night of celebrations then a hectic early morning packing everything up and heading back home to Maui!! A hui hou Cabarete!!!
Aloha and Mahalo,
Zane Kekoa Schweitzer
– Innovate and Inspire