Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Kitesurfing at Shark/Kite beach and Santa Maria, Sal, Cape Verde - 15 May 2012

I arrived at the kite centre at the usual time of just after 09:00. There was not a lot of wind so the guys at the centre were to take me and a beginner (Stephanie) over to Kite Beach (also known as Shark Beach). This would be my first time there.

We leaded the truck with the gear and Youness (centre manager) drove us over to Kite Beach.

When we arrived there was no one else there and the wind was also light here too. We waited about 30 minutes before Stephanie and her teacher Marouka headed into the water to practice their body dragging.

A couple other kite schools turned up and only when a couple of the riders with big 14m kites and surf boards went out did I feel that the wind might be enough. I only had the 12m North Rebel with me and the usual 139cm board. Someone launched me and I headed out into the water.

The water at Kite beach has waves near the shore and a reef break waves set about 100m out. However I didn't get very far. As I was bringing my board around to get on, I managed to get it to release the emergency release! So much for my first ride! At least I know the safety works :-)

After a little more time on the beach I headed out again. This time it was much more successful. I was up and away. I didn't really have any trouble with the waves to be honest. My troubles started when it was obvious that the kite was leaking air. This made it really hard for the kite to keep its shape and stay in the air when powered. I managed a good few runs in and out, and keeping up wind. No real good sliding turns however.

All too soon however I was back to the beach and taking the kite back to the pump. This is when Youness turned up again with more beginners and found that they had not bought enough bars for everyone. He asked if I wanted to go back to Santa Maria and ride there, as Fred was there and the wind had picked up a little. Rather than depriving a beginner of the chance to kite I decided to head back. It would also allow me to grab some lunch.

I met Fred at the kite centre back at Santa Maria beach and we headed for lunch. After a leisurely lunch we suited up. This time I took out a 14m North Rebel and as I had left my usual board at Kite Beach I had to take what was left, which was a big 151cm 'Gonzales'.

I launched Fred, and he was on a 12m. Him being much smaller than me he was not having any trouble with the lighter wind. So, I was very hopeful that the 14m I had would be good. There was no one around to launch me, so I had to perform my first true 'self launch' from the beach. Wasn't too much trouble, and I was away!

I'm so glad I came back to Santa Maria beach as with the 14m it resulted in some really great riding. My sliding turns were much more fluid and controlled. I was having a good time.

About 40 minutes into riding I noticed that the kite was not holding its shape properly when powered. This kite too appeared to have a leak. This made flying the kite a lot more effort based. I could have went back to the beach and pumped up, but that would have taken time. I was having too much of a good time to do that. Plus the kite was, whilst losing air, didn't appear to be deflating too quickly.

The big board really was a lot of work, but I was making so much progress up wind that I was soon in amongst the boats and the anchor boys. So I actually had to do some deliberate down wind rides. I also tried to match Fred for when he was riding away from the beach I was up wind from him and matching him. My aim was to not only see how much, if any, more up wind I was riding, and also for my ego to see if I was riding faster. I was riding slightly more up wind, but only matching speed. I'd like to say it was because my kite was deflating, but I'm not so sure.

Because the kite was deflating and the extra work I was doing with that and the bigger board, it was taking its tool on my left arm (and damaged shoulder). I could have stayed out longer, but headed back to the beach, where I self landed the kite, exactly where we launched from. Only when I stopped could I really feel that I had taken a lot out of my arm. So I was glad to have stopped.

Fred landed back at the beach 5 minutes later. He was all for a quick rest and for heading out again. I said that I was happy for to keep an eye on him if he went out again, but I would have to pump up the kite again, so that I could get out and help if needed. By now the kite was well deflated. Another bonus of landing when I did.

I launched Fred and pumped up my kite (just in case). I watched Fred ride for another 10-20 minutes and when he landed back at the beach I packed away my gear.

We headed back to the centre and over to the Atlantis bar for a beer. Stephanie joined myself and Fred, where we had a couple beers. Turns out that Stephanie is in the same hotel as me! She has been there for 4 days and our paths have not crossed. The Hotel Dunas De Sal is very small, so it is quite amazing that we have not even seen each other!

Fred left to go back to his hotel and me and Stephanie stayed for another beer, and we were then joined by Youness, who had just finished closing up the kite centre. So we had to stay for another beer.

It was dark by the time myself and Stephanie walked back to the hotel. After dropping our stuff off in our respective rooms he headed to the hotel bar for a couple more beers, before calling an end to the night.

All in all a really good day, happy with my riding and progress.

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