Kiting greats honoured at gala awards night

Breaking the taboo

The Social Contribution Award, recognising the kiteboarder who has gone above and beyond in their efforts to use their platform to try to make the world a better place, went to South African, Graham Howes.

The founder of the Dirty Habits brand has sought to break the taboo of discussion of mental health issues in sport through his films. He, himself, was diagnosed with ADHD, epilepsy and depression at various points in his life.

“I’ve always strived to be more than ‘just a kiteboarder’,” says Howes. “This Social Contribution category offers a platform for riders to develop their careers around their communities. Many people in the industry have such potential and I want to help them reach that. Mental health is one obstacle that holds many people back. I want to use my platform to help others. Mental health affects millions, yet carries such stigma.”

Three new awards were introduced this year, a reflection of the success of the first gala evening and the event’s growing importance in the kiteboarding world. In most of the categories, the public and the industry were given a say in the decision, along with a special GKA sports committee.

One new award, for Photo of the Year, went to Samuel Cárdenas for his shot of Sergio Turegano. Cárdenas named this “very special shot”, Playa Chicas.

The award for Video of the Year was given to Grounded: A SunGod Film by Lidewij Hartog. It is an illuminating and emotional portrait of the Cape Verdean kiteboarding legend, Airton Cozzolino, tracing his humble beginnings and the success that transformed him.