Kitesurf in Paradise with Kalpitiya Kite Safari

As kite surfers we all dream of finding that perfect spot and having it all to ourselves, or at least just having you and your friends there…. maybe someone with a camera for good measure. Good wind, flat water/big waves (delete as applicable), and not another soul in sight, just for a few days seems like a difficult thing to come by now as all the major kite spots start to get jammed up. As a beginner or intermediate rider you might feel intimidated heading into a busy lineup where everyone gets way closer than you think is safe, so what are your options?

Well you could start carrying a knife and threatening to puncture anyone’s kite/slash the lines of anyone who gets too close, I mean I’d probably keep clear of you…OR probably a better option right now is to go explore somewhere less well known, and from Kitekuda we’ve got a range of amazing possibilities for you to discover within a short boat ride. The staff recently went on a 3 day scouting mission to find some new spots and downwinders North of the usual day trip spots, and conditions did not disappoint! We’ll be running these trips on demand for groups as large as 8 in one boat, or we can even stretch it a bit and take two boats, but 6-8 is best if you want to keep the spots (and sleeping arrangements) as uncrowded as possible!

The Dream Team

We got the boat in the water at around 930am, before the wind kicks in to make sure we weren’t contending with huge amounts of swell and vomit on our way North. We managed to get all our kitesurf gear, camping gear and food for 3 days on board, and made good time heading up the coast. Usually for day trips people head to dream spot or they go as far as Vella island, which are amazing spots, but the problem is if 10 other groups have decided to do the same trip that day then you’re just going to all get in each others way. We headed past these, and eventually found a little spot we liked the look of, which was a tiny island just off the main sand bar, with waist deep water all round it, a perfect little freestyle lagoon on the downwind side and enough dry land for us to set up camp.

Nice place you have here

We pitched our tents and had some lunch as the wind started building, then got our kites out for the inaugural session at this new spot. My idea to name it ‘the glory hole’ got shot down for some reason, so it remains nameless for now. I could go on and on about how good this spot is, and how satisfying it is riding when the only sound you can hear is your spray hitting the water bla bla bla… but you can see how good it was from the pictures and the video embedded at the bottom of the page, so I’ll keep the frothy feelings to a minimum and just say that you need to go there yourself.

After a glorious afternoon kiting a world class spot, the sun began to make it’s way towards the horizon and our thoughts turned to food. Fortunately captain Mike was to the rescue and produced a stew and salad combo which for some reason made me (27) and my friend (it’s rude to ask a woman her age) look about 16 again.

Who are these children??

Once dinner was safely deposited in our stomachs we watched a truly beautiful sunset, I ran around like a madman trying to take lots of artistic looking photos, and then we decided to build a fire. Luckily me and the boys had planned ahead and we had a good selection of all the finest drift wood on the island, so it only took about 30 seconds of messing around with newspaper placement to get the fire lit. I don’t know if you’ve ever sat under a full array of stars next to a nice warm fire and just enjoyed the moment, but I have a few times, and I have to say this was my favourite. There was a lovely breeze which meant no mosquitoes or bugs, you had the noise of the ocean in the background, and because it was a new moon the stars were breathtaking. As I’m a total addict I did sneak off to take some pictures at one point, but I’m glad I did because they came out really nicely, especially for a first time playing with long exposure.

Not bad eh

***Now it’s only fair to mention at this point that high tide that night was a bit higher than we’d anticipated, so a couple of the tents did have to get moved a metre or two in the night to avoid getting totally soaked. But that’s why we do these things with the staff first, we’re expendable and it’ll hurt the business less than if we didn’t try it and a paying customer got washed out to sea in the middle of the night. Lesson learned, and we picked out a better campsite for next time anyway so it’s all good.***

The next day dawned bright and early, and we were all raring to go after a night sleeping under the stars. Breakfast is a choice of cereal or fresh fruit or both, and the fruit in Sri Lanka really is spectacular, so we took lots of it with us. We eventually decided on a plan to downwind to Vella island, have lunch, then downwind all the way to dream spot and stop there for the night. The wind let us down early so we ended up cruising to our lunch stop in the boat instead, but when it picked up towards the end of lunch we all hit the water for a quick kicker session, and then headed downwind.

Totally fake, photoshop all the way

Vella is an amazing spot to stop in pretty much any wind direction so I ended up doing a few tricks there before kicking off downwind. The crossing is an easy tack slightly downwind to get to the mainland, and the boat is on hand the whole way so if even if you’re not the best rider in the world you can still give it a go, knowing you have the backup and safety you need. Right on the point there is another nice freestyle spot which we stopped at for about an hour just to play around in the flat water. Because it was getting on a bit and we still had further to go, we decided not to stay and to head downwind in order to get to Dream spot, put up tents and cook before sunset.

The second night was much like the first, dinner (an awesome BBQ this time), make a fire, chill out, sneak off to take photos, and then into bed pretty early. It was a long day and we were all happy to call it a night at about 830pm, lightweights that we are. I think it also helped that we’d nearly exhausted the alcohol supply we took with us by this point, so I guess the second lesson we learned from all this is: kiters like a drink. I’m not sure why we needed to learn that, I could have told you that, I just think whoever packed the beers must have failed maths at school.

You see?? Ice cold beer straight off the water, yes PLEASE!

Our 3rd day we woke to a nice stiff breeze which we decided to make the most of, so everyone took turns hitting the water at dream spot early. After a quick lunch we headed into the sea for the last leg of the journey downwind to Kalpitiya lagoon, where we had arranged for the trailer to meet us. This time the boat stayed on the lagoon side while we braved the ocean so it was more for the competent riders, but we always have a few of the staff on hand to rescue boards/kites/people as necessary. As long as we’re happy you know how to relaunch in deep water, body drag, and pack down a kite, then you’re welcome to come along on this part. It’s a really nice downwinder, only about 6km, so it can be done really quickly if you want, but actually there is a nice little swell on the way down which is fun to play in, and there’s definitely something nice about seeing all the multicoloured kites with palm trees and fishing shacks in the background. It’s funny for me to look at a scene like that, then think back on when I was reading kite surf magazines years ago and daydreaming of kiting heaven, and now I see it every day. You can get a bit jaded in life but sometimes it’s the little moments which give you the clearest insight, and stay with you for a long time.

“Holy SH*T it’s like I’m in a magazine!!!!”

We ended up in Kalpitiya lagoon and while the boat was being loaded we took the chance to kite there for a while. It’s a nice spot to end up, but can get pretty crowded because basically every school and camp in Kalpitiya takes their guests there. We were all pretty exhausted after 3 days of solid kiting so we only stayed on the water for about half an hour dodging beginners, and then packed down to head back to camp on the back of the trailer. It was a surprisingly fun part of the journey as the locals were pretty shocked to see a bunch of foreigners sat on a boat doing 80km/h down the main road, especially  the tuktuk drivers we overtook.

If you made it to the end, thanks for staying with me, you’re a good person, have a gold star. We had a blast and I know anyone who does one of these trips will too, the spots are amazing and it’s just a brilliant experience. We can offer beginner kite safaris so you can learn at one of these amazing spots, we can offer advanced lessons to help you crack that new trick, we can do a mix, so the beginners stop and the advanced riders downwind back to them, or we can just go to explore new and unknown spots, it’s totally up to you, let us know what you’re looking for and we will customise the trip for you.

For more info you can check the ‘kite safari’ page of the website, you can book via the website, you can email srilankakiteschool@hotmail.com , or you can message us on Facebook www.facebook.com/KalpitiyaKiteSafari . You can see the full gallery from the trip HERE, it’s worth checking out

Check out the video from the trip below, and please do share it around your friends:

Read More

Why to take Advanced Kitesurf Lessons

Your kite surf lessons, they were great right? You went from not being able to fly a kite, to being a kickass, totally awesome kiter doing huge 20m jumps in about 3 days……Oooooor probably not. For most of us mere mortals (all you super humans who did what I just described can stop reading at this point, this isn’t for you) getting that good is going to take a LOT of work. However there is a good way we can get better, and in general it’s going to be much quicker than trying to figure it out for yourself. You might have guessed what it is from the title.

Over those first few days of lessons you learnt a lot, but becoming a pro takes longer than your instructor has time for. Their priority is getting you to a level where you’re safe on the beach/in the water; where you’re not going to injure yourself or others around you with your inexperience, and that’s what you’re paying them for. However there is a definite theme in kitesurfing that when you’ve finished your beginner lessons, you never need an instructor again. After all, they were just there to get me onto the board and that’s that…..But why is that?

Being a good instructor means you understand the mistakes people make in a split second. I see that you’re not putting enough weight on your back leg as you come out of the water, meaning the board nose dives and you take yet another face plant. When you come up, I wait for you to stop coughing/spluttering/swearing, tell you what went wrong, you try again and Lo and behold you’re up and riding. That one little tip got you from drinking half the lagoon to cruising away into the sunset.

Booyah!

So my question to all you aspiring Aaron Hadlow’s or (insert favourite kite surfers name)’s is, why stop there?? Why is it that you don’t think it’s worth your time and money to pay for advanced kitesurf lessons or clinics? What makes me a great beginner instructor is my ability to spot problems and explain how to fix them, a skill which works just as well for a back roll, a carve gybe, or an s bend to blind as it does for a board start.

Maybe you’re struggling with back rolls and have been for 6 months, come to me for a lesson, even just an hour, I promise you it will make a world of difference. Usually I can tell you your major mistake within an attempt or two, and can then spend the rest of the time helping you correct it and any other little problems. It’s hard to know what’s going wrong when everything is happening around you, but from the outside looking in, it’s actually fairly easy to assess the problem and come up with a few tips to make it work. I personally like to ride with my students, so we can stop and chat any time for me to give tips, or I can demonstrate a technique, or I can just ride with you while you try it. It’s the perfect setup and the progression I’ve seen in my students is amazing, because you see me do it, I tell you what you’re doing wrong, and you have no choice but to keep trying it, you’re paying for it after all!

Go try it….no really, this is costing you money, go try it

People will often say to me the best thing about having an instructor for advanced lessons is it actually forces them to try the trick. It may sound stupid, but how many times have you been really psyched to try a trick before the session, gone out, crashed really hard and got what feels like a billion gallons of water flushed through your nose, thought “you know what screw it” and then stopped trying after one or two attempts? I know it’s happened to me, and I know almost every other kitesurfer has done the same at one time or another. When you’ve paid for a lesson, you’re damn well going to keep trying!

Maybe you are just a glutton for punishment and you love wiping out, I mean it takes all sorts, but if you want to progress at any level, in any sport, an instructor or a coach is the best way to go about it. You don’t see self taught olympic athletes, they all have coaches, so why do we as kite surfers insist on beating ourselves and our equipment to death rather than pay for a professional to guide us? Some people will point out lessons can be expensive, so let me put it this way: you spent €3000 on 2 kites, €600 on a board, €150 on a harness, €200 on a wetsuit. Now you’re complaining over €50 for an hour, to learn something from a professional, which will avoid you trashing all that nice shiny new equipment.

I understand it’s not for everyone, but for those that take them, advanced lessons are a lot of fun, you’ll learn something, and you’ll probably end up enjoying your time on the water more, so think about it.

And fun is what it’s all about! Stay stoked

Zac Andrews

Kitekuda Head Instructor

Read More

2015 North Evo – Review

Intro

The North EVO started out as a beginner oriented kite, focussing on easy relaunch and windrange. It was supposed to be good for any style or condition, but strictly following the Delta concept, it remained more of a beginner kite than an advanced one. Ralf Grosel, designer of the Rebel and Vegas, took over the EVO and developed it away from Delta shape, giving us a much more performance oriented kite since the 2014 model. This made the EVO a bit of an underdog for 2014, but as more riders discovered it’s capabilities, you now see the 2015 literally everywhere in the sky.

All-round

I’m always afraid an all-round kite will never be really good at any one thing, making it an all-round compromise. The 2015 EVO doesn’t feel like it’s a compromise on anything though. This kite is truly good at everything. Surely if you stick to just one riding style, you’re better off with a more specific kite, but if you’re anything like me, and want to be able to ride in anything from swell to butter flat water, either riding some waves, doing high board-off’s or unhooking for some s-bends, the EVO is for you.

Build quality and relaunching

North Kiteboarding has always been well known for it’s build quality and the EVO is no exception. I’ve seen these things being crashed inside-out in +35 knots over and over by kite schools in Tarifa without any problems whatsoever. As for relaunching, it almost does it automatically thanks to it’s Delta inspired shape.

In the air

The EVO gives you a very safe feeling. It absorbs gusts and is extremely stable in the sky. It has  HUGE windrange, making it perfect for a 1 or 2 kite quiver. I was riding the 8m on 24m lines and my buddy the 11m on 22m lines, both having a great session at the same time. Once you get some wind, expect huge lift and hangtime. If you want to go for wave riding or unhooking, I recommend the 22m lines, making it turn much quicker and giving better pop-and-slack. As for bar pressure, it’s a bit higher than, say, an F-one bandit, but this makes it less nervous, and you can always feel where the kite is, whether hooked or unhooked.North Evo 8m 2015

Overall

This kite does it all, and it does it very well. It’s the best kite I’ve ever flown since the first North Rhino 1’s. It has huge range, boosts big with a lot of float. It drifts well enough to ride the waves, and the unhooked performance will be perfect for 90% of the non-pro freestylers out there.

Read More

Kitekuda Camp

Kitekuda season starting NOW!

 

Welcome to my new ‘Blog’ – and thanks Niells for taking me from the ‘Analogue’ age to the ‘Digital’ age of communication – Albeit dragged along by the ears! Raquel would be proud of you, she has been pushing for a long time!

I could start my Blog life by speeaking to the converted – The ‘Chennai’ gang, Christoff, David, Andreas, Joanna and Mark, but what they dont know about Sri Lankan kiting is not worth writing about, and there are many, many more who have travelled here numerous times to experience the consistancy and quality of the kiting, but I wont, I shall make my initial post a brief introduction to the newcomer to Sri Lanka!

May is traditionally the start of the ‘main’ season for kiting in Sri Lanka, with 18-22 knots of wind blowing 24/7 till the end of September. The SW monsoon winds are actually a trade wind, and have historically been used for hundreds of years by the Arab and European traders to ply their goods between the West and the Far East.

Over the last 5 years Sri Lanka has well and truly established itself on the world map of exceptional kitesurf destinations, with great flat water destinations – excellent kite safari options and good surf possibilities – an all rounders paradise.

The ‘kiting’ options are not an all Island phenomenon – the kite tourism industry is primarily located on the West coast of Sri Lanka – 2 hours north of the international airport – The closest venue to the airport -Kappaladi Village – is the birth place of the first dedicated kite camp and kite school – Kitekuda – Sri Lanka Kite School.

I obviously dont have to espouse the services offered by Kitekuda and Sri Lanka Kite School, they are all here on the website for you to see – Suffice to say we have opted for less volume of guests in terms of occupancy and a more peaceful, isolated atmosphere but fully serviced!

Our quality includes the best equipment in the world – we are the importers and distributors of North Kiteboarding Equipment and use this material exclusively in the school for teaching, hire and for sale – both 2nd hand and new equipment.

A brief post guys, to practice my new found skills – there will be regular posts and updates through out the year – Being the pioneers of the kiting industry in the region we welcome any inquiries you may have whether they be related to accommodation, lessons or simply advice.

Until next time. M.

 

 

Read More