Monday, September 15, 2014

Italy’s Deep south: Salento.

Galatina's Cathedral Mosaic
The Italian region called Puglia, in the heel of the Italian "boot," ends in Italy's extreme south, and its southern-most province is called Salento. In the local dialect the Salentini (local people) use this expression:

“Salentu: Lu sule, Lu mare, Lu ientu” 

which literally means “Salento: the Sun, the Sea, the Wind.” For kiters this can be enough to have a good reason to pay a visit to this Mediterranean enclave, but before we talk about kitespots and winds, let us mention the cultural richness of this beautiful region.

Gallipoli old town
This land has always been a frontier, or rather a confrontation ground, between Europe and the Middle East: it has been conquered by Greeks in ancient times and became part of "Magna Grecia," and in more recent times it was taken over by Spanish (the Aragons) and the  Ottoman Turks: during the famous Otranto’s Christians massacre in 1480, 800 Otrantini were beheaded, because of the refusal to convert to Islam. This  cultural crucible can be considered unique in the Mediterranean and it is now expressed through the richness in food, arts and music. 

Hot Chilly Peppers: Salento's viagra!Fortification against the Turks on Otranto's coastline
The region’s capital is Lecce, located right in the center of Salento. It's a majestic baroque city, which is alive late into the night,  and has an amazing historical center, where you can find countless local restaurants and lounge bars. Other beautiful towns which absolutely deserve a visit are Otranto, Gallipoli, Nardò, Galatina and Maglie, but don’t miss all the small villages that host local ‘Sagre’ (typical feasts and theme events that are all about food, art and music) on different days of July, August and September.


Salento's typical cuisine is a must-try: vegetable dishes (based on eggplants, tomatoes, olives, ‘fave’…) play a big role in the local recipes and are absolutely delicious, but so are local fish and meat dishes. Talking about wine, we are in the region of Negroamaro and of Primitivo di Manduria, world-famous red wines. 

Coast between Otranto and Leuca
As for the local entertainment, don't miss Taranta if you really want to immerse yourself in the local culture: this ancient dance with its syncopated rhythm has a powerful hypnotic power that makes people dance in an incredible way: actually even the Italian language has an expression ‘tarantolati’ that refers to the tarantula spider bitten people that can’t stay still and dance like crazy. The most famous festival of Taranta music is called ‘La Notte della Taranta’ (Taranta’s night), and takes place in Melpignano. Its symbol is a spider, and thousands of people participate, practically taking over the entire village.

Kiter on Alimini Beach
So if all this sounds good to you, the best is yet to come: Salento is a perfect location for kitesurfing. It is basically a small peninsula facing two seas: the Adriatic and the Ionian. This leads to countless combinations of spots and wind conditions: the most appreciated winds by local kiters are the ‘Tramontana’ (North) and the ‘Scirocco’ (south-east).
Kiter on Frassanito Beach
You can choose your perfect spot for the day depending on the type of the wind. For the Tramontana wind, the best area is the north Adriatic coast from San Foca to Otranto: the best spots are San Foca, Frassanito and Alimini (these last two are also great with the south-east wind).

For the Scirocco wind, the best kitesurfing spots are on the Ionian Sea: close to Gallipoli we have the sandy beaches of Baia Verde in the south of the town, and Padula Bianca in the north. A little further north you can find the best spot: Porto Cesareo, with its crystal clear and shallow waters.

Dark slide on Frassanito Beach
The best periods to take advantage of this incredible kite/cultural paradise are spring and autumn (that’s why we are writing about it now, with the autumn approaching): during the summer all the beaches are overcrowded by people on holiday, especially in August, and often the kitesurfing activity on all the Gallipoli and Porto Cesareo beaches has to be supervised by coast guards. You might still kite on Frassanito and Alimini beaches, but sometimes the authorities come and heavily fine kiters performing tricks and maneuvers close to the beach.

Kiter on Alimini Beach

For these reasons it’s better to stay away from Salento in the summer, and to kite in the autumn, when the weather is still pleasant and warm and the beaches start to become empty: in this period kiters become the owners of the spots and enjoy great wind days!



If you are a beginner, there are a lot of kite schools around, but in our opinion, considering the quality of teaching (the only IKO center in the area) and safety, the best one is AK school, operating in the Alimini spot in the summer and in Porto Cesareo in autumn/spring.

Alimini Kite Spot

The most remote region of Italy in the deep south: a paradise for kitesurfers!
Date published: 09/15/2014
Date Update: 15/09/2014

Monday, July 14, 2014

Between Water and Sky: Kitesurfing in the Grenadines

If you have a dream to kitesurf in a paradise made of more than 600 coral islands, the Grenadines can turn out to be your final destination.
















This group of gems scattered between Grenada in the south and Saint Vincent in the north is, in my opinion, a destination that comes quite close to an ideal kitesurfer's paradise, full of an incredible variety of kiteboarding spots. 

Remember The Pirates of the Caribbean movies? It was all filmed here, in the Grenadines!

The only way to reach these islands is by boat. In fact, you can fly to Barbados or Grenada with the major airline companies, and from there rent a catamaran or another sailboat to reach the archipelago. If you aren't very interested in a long boat navigation, you can find a regional flight from these two islands to Martinique or, even better, to Union Island, which lays in the heart of the Grenadines - this strategy will also allow you to take maximum advantage of your time if you just want to kitesurf.



The complexity of reaching this destination is well paid back by the amazing kiteboarding spots you'll find along the way: just pick your spot on the map, and any small island will turn out to be a great place for your session.

On Union Island, you’ll be able to find Jeremie Tronet's Pro Center kite school (www.kitesurfgrenadines.com), offering all levels of kitesurfing courses and a cozy kite-beach hotel.  This island is also the best spot for beginners, since other islands have narrower beaches dotted with palm trees, which might create difficulties for beginners to launch and land their kites.

But if you already are an experienced rider, you must jump on a sailboat or a catamaran and fully enjoy all the hidden Grenadines' kitesurfing spots! You can encounter really small and uninhabited atolls up to glamorous islands as Mustique, which is quite different from the others: all around you will find huge mansions of rich and famous people (like Mick Jagger or David Bowie).


Even you can choose so many different beautiful islands, you definitely want to pay a visit to Tobago Kay and have a kite session in Jameson Island and Petit Tabac, which seems to be the only place for kitesurfing allowed by rangers, since this is a completely protected area.

What else can I say?! A kitesurfing session in the Grenadines will fill you with unforgettable emotions: a breathtaking landscape, warm water that changes its azure and turquoise nuances with every meter, and relaxed Caribbean atmosphere will be waiting for you! 

During your sailing you'll find fishermen approaching the boat with their daily catch of local fish or lobsters, which you can buy for few dollars for your everyday's lunch or dinner.

The best period for kitesurfing in the area starts from December and goes up to July, thanks to the trade winds (the AlizĂ©s) that blow with good consistency. 




Photo courtesy by Jeremie Tronetwww.kitesurfgrenadines.com



Blog post describing the wonderful Grenadines and the variety of incredible kitesurfing spots those island offer.
Date published: 07/14/2014
Date Update: 07/14/2014

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Kitesurfing Weather Conditions: How to Read the Sky

kitesurf, lightning, storm, bad, idea


Imagine yourself enjoying a kitesurfing session when the weather suddenly changes, and you are not sure if a storm is coming, the wind is changing or it's just some clouds that will not impact any of your kitesurfing conditions. Obviously, you will not want to get out just to check the weather online, so it’s quite helpful to be able to recognize the various weather patterns by observing what’s around us.

Kitesurfing, like all the wind-based sports, is influenced by weather conditions. Weather research is advisable not only to understand the optimal kitesurfing conditions, but also to know when to stay away from the water.

The wind is basically moving air: the cause of this motion is the difference of pressure in various areas of the planet, which is a direct consequence of varying temperatures and other local elements.

In another post we’ll talk in detail about the wind, its behavior and its influence on your kitesurfing conditions. For now, let's get the basic idea about how to read the sky by its appearance, temperature and humidity in order to forecast the weather, even without any technology or weather maps. 


The movement of cold or warm air fronts are usually the major factors that influence weather conditions. There are basically just two scenarios: a warm front coming after a cold one or vice-versa. To understand what happens we have to keep in mind these three basic facts:
  • When cold and warm air move against one each other, cold air slides under warm air due to the difference in density; as a result, warm air is pushed up in the atmosphere.
  • Warm air generally is much more humid.
  • As warm air moves higher and higher, it starts to cool down, producing clouds from its humidity.
1. The first situation: a warm front approaching a cold front.


weather, warm, front

As shown in the picture, when a warm front comes against a cold one, due to the difference in density, the warm one, full of humidity, starts to slide over the cold air, and this movement produces slow condensation of water vapor that starts to create clouds.

The clouds that appear first are high Cirrus, followed by Cirrusstratus (at lower altitudes), then the thicker Altostratus (at even lower altitudes, appearing closer to the border of cold and warm air), followed by the Nimbustratus, which normally bring rain (nimbus: rain in Latin). This sequence is normally pretty slow, and you can see the first Cirrus clouds even 36 hours before the rain by the Nimbustratus clouds starts. 


In this situation we normally see the following changes in the area:

Meteorological sequence of an entering warm front:




Approaching front
Front passing over
Inside the warm front
Wind
Reinforces and changes direction

Abrupt changes
Constant direction
Clouds
Sequence of Cirrus, Cirrostratus, Altostratus, Nimbostratus and Stratus

Nimbostratus
Stratus and Stratocumulus
Rain
Heavy and continuous

Light or even stops
Occasional or light rain
Visibility
Gets worse as the rain becomes stronger
Bad
Limited with occasional fog formations


2. The second situation consists in a cold front overcoming a warm one:


weather, cold, front

This situation leads normally to much more dramatic weather conditions. The overcoming cold front pushes the highly humid warm air to higher altitudes very fast, causing massive condensation and convective wind currents. This effect produces the most dangerous cloud formation, the Cumulonimbus. This kind of formation consists of the clouds developing very high in the sky, which can reach up to 12 km of height. They have the typical anvil shape, where the upper tip normally shows the direction of movement of the cloud formation. 

In fact the Cumulonimbus is the only kind of cloud which, due to the strong convective air currents, can create its own wind. This means that these clouds move independently from the normal winds and become unpredictable and very unstable. The wind direction and intensity can change dramatically and suddenly, just in few minutes, in the presence of this stormy formations.

WARNING: When you see such a formation on the horizon, you'd better keep an eye on it and stop kitesurfing. Get out of the water at the first sign of its approach to your area:


  
Meteorological sequence of a entering cold front:


Approaching front
Front passing over
Inside the cold front
Wind
Reinforces and changes direction close to the front

Abrupt changes with whirlwinds and gusts
Constant direction,   strong and with gusts
Clouds
Sequence: Stratus and Cumulus, Nimbostratus get thicker

Cumulonimbus
Clear with occasional Cumulus formations
Rain
Heavy, close to the front
Strong rain, with hail and lightnings

Normally light for 30 min, then rain showers
Visibility
From moderate to poor, occasional fogs
Bad due to heavy rain
Very good


This is just a quick summary of kitesurfing weather conditions. Of course, we don't mean to be exhaustive or complete, since we're not weather pros. The idea is to give some hints about how to read the weather when you are out in the water.

Feel free to comment and give your own opinion and as usual! Safe kitesurfing! 


kitesurfing, stormy, weater, conditions

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post about atmospheric phenomena in order to easily forecast the weather evolution and to provide some hint to prevent kitesurfing in extreme and dangerous conditions.
Date published: 07/08/2014
Date Update: 07/09/2014

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Kitesurfer’s Physical Training: How to Perform at Your Peak and Prevent Kitesurfing Accidents?

Aerobic, training, kitesurf,kitesurfing,kiteboarding

Kitesurfing is an exciting, adrenaline-pumping and shape-building sport that is one of the fastest growing in the world. It was once considered a niche extreme sport, but it can really be practiced by anyone nowadays. Learning how to kiteboard has in fact become quite easy thanks to the new evolution in technology that made the sport safe and accessible to all.
While easy accessibility makes kitesurfing more and more popular, it can also raise some risks to the beginners, who might not be in great shape and could find themselves in a difficult situation in an open water or in a wavy sea due to their lack of physical preparation.

A good physical shape is not only necessary for your great performance during a kitesurfing session, but it’s even more important in preventing accidents.

If you think that kitesurfing happens only when you are riding your board through the water, you might be misled to imagine that you don’t really need big physical effort to do that. However, it’s still a very active water sport, where high speed is involved, so let’s imagine what would happen when things get more complicated: for example, you fall in the water, there are waves, and your board is floating quite far away from you. It might take you a few minutes of bodydrag upwind to retrieve it. In this case you’ll get tired much faster than when you are simply riding and, most importantly, you will be in a difficult situation.

Another perfect example in which you might need some physical strength is when you make a mistake while performing a trick or a jump, and crash in the water with a stronger hit than normal: in this case you’ll also need to be in a reasonably fit condition in order for your muscles to handle the body’s stress without too much impact.

So even if kitesurfing has become a safer sport, it has still to be considered extreme, and for that reason we should pay a lot of attention to our physical training before we take it on.

In this post I won’t want talk about specific exercises, as there are infinite tutorials on YouTube and in many kitesurfing forums. What I am pointing out is what you want to achieve with your exercise in order to make the best of your kitesurfing session, and all you have to do is choose the kind of exercise that best fits your taste and physical situation.


The improvements in your fitness you want to reach are basically three: a good aerobic and cardiovascular condition, a muscular empowering and flexibility and a strong proprioceptive capability.


1. Good aerobic and cardiovascular condition is necessary for higher endurance during a kitesurfing session and for improved cardiac and breathing capability. This will allow you to have longer kitesurfing sessions and faster recovery between them. It’s up to you to choose your favorite technique to develop this aspect of your overall physical condition: you can choose various disciplines, such as jogging, biking or swimming.


Power, flex training2. The second improvement in your fitness is as important as the first one and involves the developing of muscular mass, but not as intended in bodybuilding, where athletes go for hypertrophic muscle development. As kiters, we are interested in the so-called Power Flex Training. The practice of kitesurfing requires strong muscles that are elastic and resistant at the same time. So working out with big weights and small extensions isn’t exactly the ideal approach: it’s much more useful to practice strength exercises that result in considerable muscular stretching. Any good physical trainer can teach you many of these exercises. Don’t forget that you also have to focus on the muscles you’ll be using most in a kiteboarding session: the abdominal and dorsal ones, arms and legs. The goal is to achieve a strong, flexible and resistant muscular structure.

proprioceptive3. The third ingredient, the proprioceptive capability, might seem a little strange, but some experts who gave their opinion for this post seem to favor this as one of the most important aspects in physical training of a kitesurfer. Having a good proprioceptive capability means better reaction to balance loss. When we move and lose our balance (I’m sure sounds quite familiar to all kitesurfers), the faster we activate the muscles that restore us back to balance, the less chance of stress or damage our body’s muscles and joints. In other words, when we lose control of our body’s position, it might lead us to move and stretch a muscle of a joint beyond the physiological range, causing damage, so the capability to contract the muscles before the balance loss happens can prevent it.
proprioceptive instrumentsTo develop these skills we must focus on our legs, and there are various methods to do so: the basic concept is to try to keep our balance in a very unstable situation. For example, try keeping the balance one leg at a time on a platform with a semi-sphere on its bottom. These exercises don’t require more than 10 minutes per day, and after a couple of weeks the results are very good: you won’t twist your ankle even if you fall into a hole on the pavement!


Keep fit and enjoy Kiting!

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Post describing what to focus on while you are training in order to get to ready to the kitesurfing season. Being fit for the task greatly helps the safe practice of the sport.
Date published: 06/11/2014
Date Update: 06/12/2014

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Kitesurf Line Length and Kite Behavior: Long or Short Lines?

race kites with long lines


The line length of your kitesurfing gear is a very important factor that determines how a kite will fly and produce power, and knowing how to manipulate the line length can be very useful in order obtain the best performance of the kite in a particular situation.

kitesurf line extensions

Most of the kiters don't actually focus on this topic, because the kitesurfing gear comes complete and pre-set from the manufacturers, and if we want to change it, it's normally something we do ourselves by cutting and sewing the lines or attaching some extensions.





The first thing to point out is that the kite line length determines the dimension of the window of flight, which means a wider or narrower area in which our kite will fly.

Window of flight influences our kite’s performance in three ways: 1) the higher the kite flies, the stronger the wind; 2) the amplitude of space that the kite flies in determines the speed it can reach and how long it will stay in the power zone; 3) behavior of lines: the longer they are, the wider will be the curve (caused by their weight and the wind action), and this will cause less response on steering commands.


wind speed different heights


If you understand these basic concepts, you can easily figure out how to manipulate your kite’s lines:

-        -   Shorter kite lines will force the kite to fly in a smaller window, at lower altitude. This will prevent the kite from reaching stronger high winds and, at the same time, will limit its possibility to fly for long periods in the power zone and to get high speeds. Since your kite’s amplitude of flight will be limited, it will reach all points of the flying window very quickly, giving a very fast response to the kitesurfer’s commands.

 -          Longer kite lines will do the opposite. When the kite reaches its maximum height, it will be able to catch strong winds. A wider flying window will allow it to fly at high speeds and to be in the power zone for longer time. The result will obviously be the opposite: since the space to travel from one side of the flying window to the other is bigger, and the longer/curved lines take more time to transmit commands, the kite will appear much slower and less responsive.

 -          Normally manufacturers sell kites with a length of lines between 20 and 25 meters: this is a good compromise between power and response.

 -          Short lines (between 15 and 20 meters) are used in situations of very strong and gusty winds to allow a better control of a kite.

 -          Long lines (25 and up to 40 meters) are normally used in light wind conditions or in kitesurf racing, when it’s necessary to reach the best wind possible. It’s pretty clear that if you aren’t experienced enough, using long lines can be quite dangerous: the kite will be much less responsive and it will be able to reach high speed for long period of time, generating a huge amount of power.

 -          If you are just learning kitesurfing, use very short lines (between 5 to 10 meters) before starting on the board: the kite won’t be able to reach high speed and will have a very limited window of flight, making it impossible to reach enough power that could lead to dangerous situations. That’s why the best certified schools tend to use short line set-up for their beginner students.

short lines kitesurf lesson



What is your experience with using long or short lines? Share it in the comments!


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Information about the different behavior produced by the longer or shorter kitesurf lines.
Date published: 06/03/2014
Date Update: 06/03/2014

Monday, May 19, 2014

North Mozambique: the Undiscovered Kite Paradise

Kitesurf, kiteboarding, Murrebue, lagoon, crystal clear waters

European and North American summer is approaching, but you might be in time for some exotic adventure in the Southern Hemisphere: there are still some places left in the world, which can be considered true kitesurfing paradises with incredible conditions, yet undiscovered by the masses of regular kitesurfers.

Fishermen, boat, sandbank, Murrebue, Mozambique
If you want to have off-the-beaten-track experience and are dreaming of taking a kitesurfing trip that is completely away from usual tourist destinations, where you would find yourself as the only kitesurfer in beautiful turquoise water lagoons, surrounded by the breathtaking view of white sandbanks emerging all around, then Cabo Delgado, the northern-most Mozambican region, won’t disappoint you.



Murrebue is a small unknown beach village on the outskirts of Pemba (the capital of the region), but it gives the name to one of the most beautiful lagoons you have ever seen. Thirty kilometers by four of crystal turquoise waters, closed between beautiful white sandy beaches and a gorgeous reef.

Kitesurf, kiteboarding, Murrebue, lagoon, crystal clear waters

This magnificent kitesurfing spot is amazingly influenced by the Indian ocean tides, which change the kiteboarding conditions every hour, allowing you to kite from flat water at low tide to the nice waves (normally 1-2 meters high, depending on wind conditions) breaking on the reef at high tide.



Any tourism is practically nonexistent in this area, and the few expats who live here are mainly employees of gas companies from all over the world. There is a really limited number of lodges in Murrebue and the prices are quite high, but you can find some little jewels, like Il Pirata lodge, where you will still have reasonable prices and great food.


Murrebue, Mozambique, beach, bungalow, Il Pirata

I had the pleasure of staying at this kitesurfing paradise for three months, giving kitesurfing lessons to the oil and gas workers or to some local Mozambican guy, and having great kitesurfing sessions myself, spending most of the time surfing practically alone in this kiteboarding paradise.






The life here is regulated by Nature and the flow of tides: when the ocean starts to get low, all the surrounding villagers take over the lagoon to collect shellfish, which remain trapped in small puddles formed by withdrawing waters: myriads of people coming from the surrounding hills in search of some sea delicacy. You can still kite while they are around and if you attempt some jump or trick, you will suddenly hear big awwwww’s coming all around.



Kitesurf, kiteboarding, jump, Murrebue, MozambiqueThere is a very small kitesurfers community, led by Carlo Macchiarulo, the owner of the local kitesurfing school, but they mainly kite on weekends, leaving the whole lagoon to the few tourists staying in local lodges. Carlo often organizes great downwind sessions starting from local surrounding villages, such as Mecufi (30 km south from Murrebue), giving you the incredible emotion of kitesurfing on savage and uncivilized shores.


Murrebue, Lagoon, Mozambique, Pemba, Beach, Low tideThe best season to visit this kitesurfing paradise starts from May and goes up to August, when Cuzi, the south East trade winds, blow practically 90% of the days between 15 and 30 knots. You can also find wind from November to March in the Kasi Kasi season (North East trade winds), but it can rain in this period, which might often interfere with the consistence of the wind. The average temperatures during the windy season are always around 26°-28°C, and the waters are perfect for just lycra and shorts or a shorty in the really strong wind days.


The kitesurfing spot has a few dangers (some rocks and sea urchins in limited areas), but it is basically a huge stretch of coral sand and crystal clear water: a great place for kitesurfers of all levels.

kitesurf, jump, Murrebue, lagoon, Pemba, Mozambique

So if you don't need cocktails with umbrellas and some all-inclusive fattening resort for retired people, if you aren't scared by a couple airplane changes and you want to experience a great adventure and kitesurfing exploration, Murrebue is one of the best places you want to pay a visit to.

Fishermen, streets, Pembakitesurf, jump, Murrebue, lagoon, Pemba, MozambiqueCarlo Macchiarulo, owner, Pirata, Lodge








Have a look to the 2013 Murrebue season Video:




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The Murrebue lagoon, a real kitesurfing paradise in the North of Mozambique.
Date published: 05/19/2014
Date Update: 06/02/2014