Sitkite version 2.0

7 days kiteboarding in Sal, Cabo Verde Islands, February 2014

Winter 2013-2014: my second winter as a kiteboarder. I need to find a way to get my hours on the water. The winter is very mild this year, but the winds are very often side off-shore and very strong. Not very good conditions to go out without risks.

So I was looking to go to a warm and windy place for practicing and improving. Cabo Verde Islands seem to have perfect wind conditions in the winter months, and it is only 6 hours flying from Amsterdam. The perfect combination for a week kite holiday. As I developed my board with Bram from WoodyCookie, I asked him if he wanted to join. Two days later he booked his flight. His mission was to foil on his kiteboard, another new development in the sport.

As Peter Lynn kite team rider, I found out very quickly that there was another team rider based on Cabo Verde Sal Island: Elvis Jose Nunnes is a local rider with his own kiteboarding school, 100 Piedro Kiteboarding School. Elvis took care of all the logistics on the Island, transfer Airport-Hotel, taxi from hotel to the beach.

The day program was quiet intensive: a morning session on the flat water side of the island, in front of Hotel Riu, for freestyle training and for Bram a foiling session. After a short lunch break back in Santa Maria we had an afternoon session on kite beach to let me play in waves. If the Atlantic swell would come in we went for an evening session to the World famous Punta Preta for a strap less session. Needless to tell you that at I stayed in the car and enjoyed the show. Elvis is one of the most talented strapless kiteboarder on the island. Also his hospitality and friendliness made our stay on Sal an unforgetable experience.

Mystic also assisted by providing the board bags and the adequate wetsuits for the conditions on Sal. You need a little bit of creativity to find a solution in packing my sit-board and its trolley in a way that you are not ripped off for over weight by airline companies. My entire equipment weights around 50 kg. Luckily, as wheelchair user, you are most of the time allowed to take an extra wheelchair. So my kiteboard equipment on its trolley goes in the plane as beach-wheelchair :-)

Wake up at 5 o’clock in the morning to take a plane is never a nice experience. So annoying that we managed to miss our flight on Monday morning... After rebooking our ticket, we tried another time to be on time at Schiphol airport on Wednesday. Very proud of ourself we managed!! And the flight was a direct one which let us land already at 11.30 local time. This meant an entire afternoon kiting!

This is exactly what we did: we dropped our stuff in the appartment, with swimming pool and sea view, and at 2 o’clock we were pumping our kites at so called “Shark bay”; for tourists renamed “Kitebeach” :-). It seems that Tiger sharks reproduce not so far from kitebeach. Nevertheless, I spotted many seaturtles, but not one single shark. Locals and European kiteboarders looking at my equipment came along wondering how I would manage kiteboarding on such a “machine”. These first contacts always enabled me to ask assistance in pumping my kite and set up the lines. After I always got a push or a pull to be rolled to the water while already sitted on my board. And finally, before noticing it, they assist in dragging me for(re)floading me like a grounded whale. Coming from Paralympic sailing I was not used to get so much unconditional help for my own ambition. I am therefore very impressed by the solidarity and friendliness of the kiteboarding comunity, where ever it is, in Scheveningen, Aruba or at Cabo Verde. And the fact that on the water, I am fully independant, it makes that I am totally accepted and recognised as a kiteboarder.

While I was doing my things on the water, Elvis got all the attention with his freestyle tricks, handle pass combined with backloop, kiteloop and many other tricks I don’t know the name of. And one evening on Punta Preta, I was really impressed how he ripped that right handed breaking wave so close to the rocks, just in front of the car I was sitting in. Bram also attempted that game. After the fifth wave, a wave closed out and the red Cooky board ended on the rocks. Bram was the only rider kitesurfing without leach. Thanks to his kite he could escape the rocks and body dragged back to a sandy beach just around Punta Preta.


Photo's: Stefania Carelli

Thanks to Elvis, we met very inspiring riders: Vava is a local, rasta haired, surfing the wave of Punta preta on one leg. He showed us some pictures how he was rail-grabbing his board in a 5 meter tube! He was very interested in my material as he wanted to kite too. He passed by our apartment on an evening and Bram started to adapt his board to his needs. The next day Vava came to Kitebeach to look how I was going sited on my kiteboard. Even local hero and World Champion in wave riding, Mitu Monteyro, came along to show his interest in our kiteboarding “special needs” solutions. I feel blessed to share my passion.

This trip has been a week 100% efficient: 7 out of 7 days on the water, every day waves and 20-30 knots wind and 100% sunshine. I thought I had a good condition but there were mornings I could barely come out of my bed due to heavy back pain. Flying with a kite makes that sometimes the landing can be hard, even on water. Drugs like Ibuprofen make miracles in such situations... One thing is sure: Paralympic sailing is physically nothing compared to sited kiteboarding.

Ready now to hit the waves in Scheveningen