An Expert Kite Guide’s Insights on Kiting in the Turks & Caicos
If you can kiteboard to a decent level, retrieve your board, and stay upwind, then you are ready to participate in one of our Big Blue kiteboarding adventures. But what specifically IS a kiteboarding adventure?
A typical kiteboarding session is where you turn up at a spot (usually your local spot, for us that’s Long Bay) and ride there. With good wind and most of the time sessions down at the beach are fantastic. However, a true
kiteboarding adventure means you go and ride somewhere else, somewhere new. In a killer location with excellent conditions and cool friends. In our case, when we see the conditions line up just right, many of our kite adventures become epic downwind safaris.
A downwinder is where you start at point A and kitesurf to point B. Point A is upwind and point B is downwind. The ride between the start and finish is where the magic happens.
A downwinder IS pure adventure. It’s where a group of us kitesurfers travel together with all our gear by boat or car and get dropped off somewhere remote, without another soul in sight. We give you a detailed safety and terrain briefing about the route, where to ride and where not to ride and then we set off, with wind in our kites, boards under our feet, and spend the next few hours in a state of pure kiting bliss.
As a seasoned rider and instructor, I have been fortunate to have done thousands of downwinders all over the world. In my opinion, the downwinder, flat water, or waves, is by far, the most incredible kiteboarding experience possible. Period. That is a big claim — but having guided downwinders as a guide in Cape Town, Greece, and Peru which are all internationally recognized as having the best downwinders on the planet, clients would consistently say day and in day out “Oh my god that was the best session EVER!”
So why are downwinders so much fun?
Firstly, there is the anticipation. The build-up. The excitement of not exactly knowing what to expect when it’s the first time or knowing what is coming when one has done it before. Then there is the unspoiled scenery, often utterly spectacular as these riding locations are not easy to reach in the first place. There is also a fantastic feeling of accomplishment when a group sets out to get to a new destination, followed of course by the epic riding conditions. Lastly, it is the satisfaction, the collective feeling of knowing that the stoke is and was real while we relive the favourite parts of our adventure as we roll away our kites, with everyone already talking about the next possible session.
The first time Philip (owner of Big Blue Collective and expert kite guide) showed me the Big Blue downwinder from North Caicos, I must admit I was not expecting much. Especially since I had been running downwinders in giant waves in Cape Town for five wonderful years before falling in love with the Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Trust me” he said.
Quietly, I expected it to be a bit boring as it was all flat water.
But how very wrong was I….
It is not one thing that makes this trip so special. It is a combination of so much more. The colour of the sandy bottom. The shallow water, which is the bluest, clearest water I have ever seen. The mirror flat, glass-like surfaces one glides over that is like skiing deep powder in the mountains. In short, it is a sensory overload of the best kind possible. The peace and quiet of this downwinder is hypnotic. Detached from our noisy reality, it is nothing short of spectacular and meditative in equal measure. But on top of all of that and most importantly, it is just so much FUN! Fun with a capital F.
Endless mangrove channels laced with glass like water, coves, little islands, and wide-open expanses with unobstructed wind allow for endless opportunities for everyone to ride faster, shred harder, boost higher and cruise longer. Some sections and areas feel impossible to leave but when we were guided to the next spot, it is my legs that wish they had more energy in them as the next spot is just as good. And on and on it goes.
And there I was, with a grin plastered all over my face, along with everyone saying….
“OMG best session ever”.
Join us and stay tuned for part 2…..
– Tom Fuller, head kite instructor at Big Blue Collective