KITESURFING IN CAPE VERDE
Kitesurfing (also called kiteboarding) became popular in the 1990’s. It is considered an extreme sport where the kiter uses wind power harvested with a large kite to be pulled along the water. It combines the skills of surfing, paragliding, windsurfing and snow boarding in one sport.
Kitesurfing in Cape Verde has become very popular because of the north-east trade winds that are present in the winter months. Water sports are a popular pastime in the country and kite surfing has grown in popularity. In 2019 the GKA Kite World Tour (Global Kitesports Association) was held on the island of Sal.
If you want to learn kitesurfing, or you are an experienced kiter, why not visit Cape Verde and enjoy this sport. The winter months (October to May) provide the best wind conditions. The weather is good and the beaches are lovely. There are schools where you can learn the sport, or improve your skills.
The islands of Sal and Boa Vista are two of the main islands for kitesurfing. Both islands have lovely sandy beaches, kite schools and good conditions for kitesurfers. Both are on the east side of the country and therefore benefit from the north east Trade Winds.
On Sal one of the beaches on the east side of the island has been re-named as Kite Beach. There there is a kite school together with a bar and restaurant. On the west side of the island, Ponta Preta beach is also popular for kitesurfing in Sal.
On Boa Vista, there are also kilometres of lovely sandy beaches and great kitesurfing conditions. There are also several kite schools, where the skills can be improved if kitesurfing in Boa Vista.
In 2019 the GKA Kite Surf World Cup events were held on the island of Sal. The top two places in the men’s competition were secured by Cape Verde surfers. Mitu Monteiro claimed first place and Airton Cozzolino came second. In the women’s competition first place went to Moona Whyte from the USA.
These competitions were held on the Ponta Preta beach on west side of Sal. In total 52 competitors took part in the competition. The conditions at Ponta Preta were excellent and the crowd enjoyed the spectacle.
In 2020 the GKA Kite World tour returned to Sal. Once again the competitions, which started the world tour, took place on Ponta Preta beach. At the time of the event the world champion in the sport was Airton Cozzolino, and the world number two was Mitu Monteiro.
With all extreme sports it is important to have the right equipment. The kite and the board would seem obvious to the observer. However, there are different kinds of kite and board. There are also other pieces of kit required, such as a harness, lines and control bar.
The kites come in a variety of sizes and shapes. The governing factors being the weight of the surfer, the wind conditions and the surfers ability and experience. The number that is printed on each kite refers to the size of the canopy in m2. The sizes usually range between 5 and 18m2. There are also different kite shapes. The material is polyester and there is an inflatable section on the leading edge.
The strength of the wind, the surfer’s weight and skill level together with the discipline being practiced determined the size and shape of kite.
As with all the equipment there are different types of board. There are three main types, the most common of which is a twin tip board. The other two main ones are directional and hydrofoil boards.
The control bar will vary in size and incorporates a quick release system, which lowers the power in the kite.
The harness is an essential for most people and there are two main types. One fits around the waist and the other around the hips and thighs.
Helmet – as with all similar extreme sports, it is essential to take necessary safety precautions. The surfer needs protection from falling kites boards, cables and other obstacles and so a helmet is important.
The budding kitesurfer needs to be able to swim of course. However, it is a technical sport and involves specialist equipment, so having tuition from a qualified instructor is important. Some experience of other board based sports is also useful, as it may help with balance.
Controlling the kite and getting the right position and stance on the board is important. Good co-ordination skills, good balance, patience and upper body and core strength are important.