Kitesurfing Capital of the Carribean
Trip Start Oct 16, 2007
83Trip End May 09, 2008
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When you walk along the beach, the air is full of kites, especially around the part of the beach called "Kite Beach". Lots of people doing crazy stunts, jumping high in the air, doing 360s, holding the kite with only one hand, or grabbing the board while flying through the air. The craziest stunts were performed by young Dominicans boys. They were so good, and made it look so effortless! The beach is completely overtaken by kitesurfers. We'd see very few people wading around or swimming in the water, but it actually looks quite dangerous to be in there. If a kitesurfer races down the beach and doesn't see a swimmer, he could easily get run over
The central area of Cabarete beach has many restaurants and bars, with outdoor seating right on the beach, which is nice. We've enjoyed having happy hour (our dinner) at Cassanova, one of our favorite places, where beer, pizza and pasta are all half off.
We couldn't find a place that could accommodate us the entire time we were there, so we ended up staying in Casa Sans Souci the first couple of nights, which was fine. No hot water for showers but it was clean and was fairly inexpensive. We then moved to Hotel Alegria next door, where we had a little nicer room.
But the main reason we selected Cabarete is than Frank wanted to learn kitesurfing. Below is his kitesurfing log...
Frank's Kitesurfing Log:
Sun Feb-10 - Signed up for Lessons with Kite Club Cabarete
We walked down the main beach in Cabarete after arriving in the afternoon
Mon Feb-11 - My First Session with Norbert
I tried to get some kitesurfing lessons years back in Maui, Hawaii. But the wind did not cooperate and I never got to fly a big LEI kite. So, I met Norbert at 12:00 at Kite Club and first told him a bit about the little experience I have with kites. We then walked over to a small beach and talked a bit more about kitesurfing theory (wind window, 12:00, power zone, figure 8 and sinus pattern, power and depower the kite and safety systems etc). Next step was to fly a little 1.5m stunt kite quickly followed by a 5.5m LEI kite. I exercised launch, land, water re-launch and other basic kite flying. As well I practiced once using the release system. Last thing was sitting on my butt on the beach, flying the kite in a figure 8 and getting dragged a bit by the kite. So, nothing spectacular today... looking forward for tomorrow!
Tue Feb-12 - In the Water, Finally!
Another 3 hour session with Norbert at 12:00. I love walking over to Kite Beach in the morning
Wed Feb-13 - Getting on the Board
Again 12:00 with Norbert. The wind was a bit unsteady today and we had to switch between the 5.5 and the 8m kite a few times. Today we used the longer 25m lines which was quite nice. The kite feels less itchy in the air and the movements are longer. Goal for today was getting on the board and riding to the right side. Again Norbert first got into the water with me and I practiced the water start and getting on the board. He would always pull me back into the water and the exercise would start over
· Not enough power and I would fall back into the water. Ok, not bad just start over.
· To much power and I would jump over the board or crash with my face first into the water. That actually can hurt and I lost a contact lens!
· Knees not close enough to the board and I would just push the board before me. Sucks.
· A few other variations proved to be unsuccessful.
So, there are actually quite a few things you have to get right before it actually works. But I got it after a while and I was up and riding. For a split second I thought kitesurfing is not as hard as I thought... and then crashed back into the water. I felt pretty good at the end of my session and Norbert told me I'm ready for supervision if I like...
Fri Feb-15 - First Supervision
I skipped a day yesterday since I had to do some research for our weekend escape
Mon Feb-18 - Right Side Clicked
I wanted to take another lesson with Norbert today. But he was busy with other folks so I decided to just go with supervision again. After only a few tries my right side clicked. I can now get up on the board and ride for quite a while to the right. As well I manage most of the time to control the power and, after building board speed, park the kite in the wind window around 3:00. I tried the left side a few times without even getting close to get on the board. Weird.
Tue Feb- 19 - Left Side Clicked Today
Again, Norbert was busy and I did supervision only. Today my left side clicked. I'm now able to get up on the board and ride right and left. But I can still only downwind. I settled into a different routine with Jose. I would ride downwind and he would then ride back to my starting point upwind.
Wed Feb-20 - Again Supervision with Jose
What a great day
I had however one scary incident. I had just stopped and was sitting in the water with my kite at 12:00 and about to takeoff to the right. Without me knowing, another beginner directly upwind of me body dragged towards me with an instructor holding his back. He lost control and crashed his kite right into mine and took it down. His kite was ripped and his lines just a few meters in front of me. And my kite on the water dragged me into his lines! I was worried to get tangled into his lines but managed to quickly sort them and move around me... lucky his kite did not re-launch while I was close to his lines.
Fri Feb-22 - Struggle
Today was a bit of a struggle. The wind sucked at Kite Beach
Sat Feb-23 - Best Session so far & Hip Pain
The wind forecast did not look to good. But Shari joined me and we walked over to Kite Club anyway around 2pm. To my surprise the wind was stronger than yesterday, maybe around 15kts, and side onshore. Great conditions! A quick lunch and off I went. I picked a harness and board but Jose, who helped me today, said "board no good" and handed me one of the brand new EH boards they just got in. Ok. We launched a 10m kite, walked up the beach a bit and I started pretty much right off the beach. Shari took some great pics. My 2-3 hour session was great, better than yesterday. I did not make significant progress, but I'm getting much more comfortable riding both directions. I still can't stay upwind, but got better turning my upper body, leaning further back and putting more pressure on the edge of my board. From time to time I can feel that I go upwind, but then something happens and I lose ground
However, after my session I had pretty strong pain in my left hip. I could hardly walk! After looking through the pics and videos Shari took I think I know the reason now. To edge stronger I basically drop my butt lower while my upper body is pulled forward by the kite. I don't stretch my hip out and the result is that I ride at an angle, like sitting in a chair. Doesn't look right. I think I have to concentrate on stretching my hip out. Will have to talk to Norbert...
Tue Feb-26 - Struggle Again
I took a break from kiting on Monday as my back was killing me. On Tuesday, Shari had an appointment with the local chiropractor, so I decided to go along with her. I was pretty skeptical, but after he cracked my back, I actually felt better and I was ready for kiting!
The wind was pretty light and I picked a 12m kite. But somehow I struggled and had a tough time to find enough power to plane. Every time I edged harder to go less downwind I would lose speed and drop back into the water.
Wed Feb-27 - Another session with Norbert
The wind was much better today
Thu Feb-28 - Upwind Clicked Today!
The wind was light and I took a 12m kite for my 2 hour session. From the beginning things went great. I was able to stretch my hip, lean back and put more pressure on my edge. And stayed upwind! I walked the beach only once. As well my turns worked better.
Fri Feb-29 - Last Session in DR & First Jump
The wind was light again and so I picked one of the new 13m EH kites. I stayed upwind for the whole session and did not have to walk on the beach at all. What a nice feeling! My turns are getting better and I tried myself as well on some toe-side riding. The second half of my session I actually tried my first jumps... and crashed most of the time. It hurts. Anyway, I landed one jump going to the left. What an awesome feeling to fly. Great was as well that Shari joined me today and took a couple of nice pictures with my 300mm lens.
So, this was my last day of riding in the DR and I'm pretty happy with what I learned here. Now I'm looking forward for more kiteboarding... maybe later in Hawaii.