Downwinders hold a special place in the hearts of riders who’ve been on them. The excitement and achievement that comes from starting in one spot and kiting to another is infectious. Nothing quite captures the true essence of the freedom kiteboarding brings than jumping on a board and letting the wind carry you to your next port of call.
Sounds good doesn’t it? if you’re thinking of embarking on your first downwind adventure then scan through the points below and get after it!
WHY SHOULD I DO A DOWNWINDER
Well, besides the fact that they’re about as much fun as you can have while fully dressed (or partially dressed if you’re somewhere warm), you can get a lot out of going on a downwinder. They present a unique opportunity to view the coastline from a new vantage point and allow you to kite at spots inaccessible from the land that you may never have gotten to ride at otherwise. On top of that they encourage you to develop new riding skills and experience something truly special with your fellow kiters. plus, there is quite often beer at the other end!
CAN ANYONE DO IT?
Yep, in theory anyone can do a downwinder. If you can get on a board and ride downwind then you’re halfway there. However, it’s important that you’re confident in your abilities and able to relaunch your kite and get back to your board should you crash. There is nothing funny about getting into trouble if you’re offshore or not close to a suitable landing spot, so make sure your gear is in order and that you know how to sort yourself out should you get into a bit of bother.
HOW DO I DO IT?
Firstly you need to plan a route from one spot to another that’s downwind and go for it! When on the water simply point your board downwind and enjoy the ride (any board will work but directionals/surfboards are certainly comfier over longer distances). One thing to remember though is that because you’re riding downwind rather than tacking against the wind you will essentially be depowering your kite, so be prepared to downloop/kiteloop if necessary to keep your speed up.
SHOULD I GO ALONE OR WITH OTHERS?
Common sense dictates it’s better to go in a group. it doesn’t need to be an organised one, but safety in numbers is key here. should you go it alone and run into equipment failure or have something else go wrong then things could take a turn for the worse. If nothing else, at least if other kiters are there they can raise the alarm if something untoward happens. and anyway, it’s a great experience and one to be shared with others.
WHERE DO I DO IT?
The simple answer to that is anywhere! as long as the place you want to go to is downwind of where you’re starting and the route is safe and devoid of any perilous obstacles (like a disused naval minefield or wind farm for example) then get ready for your biggest smile and get out there.
Cape Town, South Africa – Dolphin Beach to Melkboss
Start at Dolphin beach or sunset beach and let the prevailing southeaster escort you to melkboss a full 12 kilometres or so away. There are some epic waves on the way and it’s really quite special if done as the sun starts to set.
Jericoacoara, Brazil – Jericoacara
Not one for the faint hearted! this is a four day adventure following the incredible north brazilian coastline covering around 40 kilometres a day. There are world class flat water lagoons and wave spots on the way with fresh fish and caipirinhas to refuel you each night.
Zanzibar – Paje
Follow the endless reef and, being africa, wherever you land you’ll never be far from someone who magically appears and offers you a taxi ride home. The waves break in both directions and vary in size depending on conditions and location, but there is something for all levels.
Cape Hatteras, USA – Planet of the Apes
Rip the slicks and flat water canals while you listen to the amazing sound your board makes in such flat water on this world famous eight mile downwinder. You’ll want to do it again and again and again!