Kite-surfer riding wave of excitement

Dale Stanton in action during the 2013 Lighthouse to Leighton. Photographer: Travis Hayto, Outer Bounds Photography.
Dale Stanton in action during the 2013 Lighthouse to Leighton. Photographer: Travis Hayto, Outer Bounds Photography.

A LOVE of what he calls Australia’s most unique kite-surfing race has fuelled Dale Stanton’s passion for the Lighthouse to Leighton.

For the tenth year in a row, Stanton is readying himself for the 19km open ocean race from Rottnest Island to Leighton Beach, which will take place this weekend provided winds are suitable.

A former winner and runner-up, Stanton said he looked forward to the event every year and it was unlike any other race.

“This is pretty unique because it’s coming from an island off-shore. There is no other race like this in Australia that goes from an off-shore island to the mainland,” he said.

“We get to ride over there on a boat and then kite back at our own pace, you can go as slow or fast as you like and know if you make a mistake you’re going to get rescued. There’s no stress element in there.”

Stanton said the race allowed competitors to soak up the natural beauty of the Indian Ocean and the Western Australian coast.

“The scenery is amazing on the way back, it’s like a postcard; the water is crystal blue, I don’t think anything compares.”

“Ordinarily, it’s sunny skies and super awesome, it’s hard not to get sucked into looking at all the kites in the sky.”

Having competed in every crossing since it began in 2010, Stanton said he liked to put his own spin on his equipment each year to give him a fresh challenge.

In addition to making his own boards, tailor-made for the event, he has also raced multiple times on a different style of board.

“I’ve done the crossing on all different types of craft, on a twin tip, slalom boards, hydrofoils…there’s not really a craft I haven’t done it on yet,” he said.

Stanton said there was no greater feeling in the race than seeing the crowd gathered on the home straight and encouraged locals to take in the unique atmosphere.

“The atmosphere is mint. The helicopters are buzzing, you come into the crowd and everyone is going berserk.”

“It signals the end of an awesome journey across the ocean. When it’s all over it’s like ‘my legs are so dead, I can’t walk,’ but you’re so pumped up on the adrenaline from the race and everyone’s cheering. It doesn’t get old.”

With low wind forecast for this weekend, Stanton joked he had his own pre-race ritual he hoped would ensure the event went ahead as planned.

“I’m probably going to have to cut up a board and do a sacrifice so we get wind,” he said.

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