A kitesurfing trip to Kenya

Kite Trips, Senza categoria

WoW. It’s the first word that comes to mind when I think back to the past 9 days I spent in Watamu, Kenya.

Everything started in December 2022, I was sitting at the table with Carlo and Ricca, the PKS bosses, and we were debating whether or not to organize a Kite master in January 2023. It would have been last minute, we were unsure if we could find enough people to go and if we could get the quality we wanted.

In less than a month we managed to find a group of 11 crazy people willing to follow us to Kenya and so we went!

Let me tell you this: it was spectacular!  9 days in a kitesurfing dreamland!

It was so great I took the twin-tip again and had a blast….for the ones who don’t know me, I’m a strapless big fan but here I’ll leave a very rare pic of me with the twin-tip eheheh (apologies for the terrible resolution)

What’s a kite master? 

A holiday where you travel to an amazing kitesurfing spot and you do a full immersion in kitesurfing.

Every day you have a lesson with a dedicated instructor, depending on your level you can start from zero or you can improve your kiting skills like riding, upwind, jibes, and basic jumps to loops. The Kite master is really for every type of kiter or kiter wannabe 🙂

Since 2016 the guys have been traveling around the world to the most amazing spots like Los Roques Venezuela, Brazil, South Africa, Portugal, and Madagascar …  Bottom line, a genius concept if you would like to combine kitesurfing progression with traveling to amazing places. 

So the journey begins!!!

We flew with Ethiopian Airlines from Milan and Rome to Addis Abeba, then with a connecting flight to Mombasa. Once we arrived to Mombasa our bus was ready for the last part of the trip direction Watamu!

By stepping outside the airplane we immediately felt the temperature difference, we went from -4 to +31 and it is quite a nice feeling hehe 

We packed all the bags on the bus rooftop and we were ready to go to Watamu….we were convinced that we would have lost half of the bags but it was not like this 😛

The drive was long but the view was quite nice. We got to see the city and then the countryside: gigantic trees, palm trees everywhere, and schools where the kids were in uniform playing. The warm colors of Africa were welcoming us!

The house!

After a 4-hour drive, very long… but worth it! We arrive at the house, this huge villa with a swimming pool, and our personal chef Steven who greets us with an aperitivo and a nice homemade pasta. We could not resist and the first thing we did was dive into the warm water of the swimming pool and drank a beer 🙂 what a life!

The house is fully Kenyan style and it’s quite beautiful.

Time to discover the kitesurfing spot!

The next day we were all ready for the first kite session, so we took the tuk-tuk and went to the school that hosted us @jcschool.

When we arrive there we see a mind-blowing scenario: a nice and warm 20 knots blowing over a flat crystal clear water and the lesson spot was on a white sand band in the middle of the sea. WHAT THE FRRRRIIIIIIIIK

I was used to Careabbian spots but this was another level of coolness. 

Just think about the fact that the sand is soooo white that even under the 31-degree African sun it never burns.  

I mean I could try to explain the beauty but it’s going to be impossible so here a pic:

JC Kite School

Jacopo, Fede, and the other guys were amazing and welcoming!

We had a corner reserved for us where to leave all our staff. And a next-level service: the beach boys at the school set up your equipment while you get ready so you just need to worry about the sunscreen 🙂

You can find out more about the school here > JC Kite School

Every day we had this amazing 18-20 knots stable warm wind. We were teaching and kiting with swimming suits and rashguards. A very good water-resistant sunscreen is necessary. 

We would arrive at 10-11h in the morning, take a break and eat fresh local fruits prepared by the guys on the beach, drink coconut water, and start again. 

On the first two days, I think the group kited for at least 5 hours each day eheheh then they were destroyed!

We had 3 types of students:

  1. Beginners from zero which in 4 hours they were already trying the water start
  2. Intermediate who wanted to finally ride upwind, do transitions, jibes, and toeside riding
  3. Advanced riders who wanted to improve jump height, backroll front rolls, and other tricks

The conditions were so amazing that the progression of the group was exponential: the beginner in 4 hours was at the water start, the intermediate was already upwind riding and doing transitions on the second day and the advanced riders were having a blast! All surrounded by an incredible scenario, which I might have not described properly: shiny white flour sand, flat crystal clear water, warm constant wind like a hairdryer.

At the house Steven the chef was delighting us in the morning with a continental breakfast and at dinner time with incredible dishes, local seafood, and a lobster night! Like to be in a 5-star hotel!

One day we did a downwind from Jacaranda to Watamu. It’s quite short, 15km, but fun. Aaaaand if I thought Watamu was breathtaking Jacaranda was next level. In low tide, the white sand bands extended for kilometers and the sea was like a swimming pool. Nothing to complain really. 

During our stay, a part of the group went to do a Safari just look at the pics…

I went diving and saw an incredibly alive reef with a thousand different colorful fishes, gigantic octopuses, and lobsters. So if you like the underwater world it’s nice for this as well!

Watamu in general is a very chilled place with very nice bars and lounges where to watch the breathtaking African sunsets. Attaching a couple of pics here so that you believe me 😛

It was just a dream kite trip. If you have the chance, go for a month and you won’t regret it 🙂

Here I’ll leave the nice video di Patrick Giuliana summarizing the amazing 9 days we spent in Watamu!

So I’m excited because we have a quite cool agenda for Kite Masters:

  • 12th to 26th March in Dakhla, Morocco
  • 22nd 29th of April in Tenerife
  • 27th May to 3rd of June in Tenerife
  • October in Mauritius
  • November in Cape Town
  • aaaand back in Keny Jan 2024 ❤

We’ll keep you posted here pks_iko_center or https://pkskitesurf.it

Can’t wait for these next trips and if you want to participate let me know!

Ciao ciao

LaGio

Follow me on Instagram lagiokite

KITESURFING RIGHT OF WAY RULES!

Senza categoria

Right of way “Che se magná?!” “Do you eat it?” As we would say in Italian, as a joke of course, when you don’t know what something is.

Reading time: 7min

To my disbelief and sad eyes, the right of way is a mysterious world that is still unknown to most kiters. Or at least to most kitesurfers that come to El Médano… please imagine 60-100 kiters in a small bay- if you don’t know the navigation rules the sport becomes dangerous.

I’m usually very easygoing in the water, I try to stay away from crowded places while kiting, I stay out of the students’ zone, I look for no trouble and I respect the famous Right of Way…unfortunately I cannot say that everybody does the same and it pisses me off terribly. So, WARNING this is going to be a very direct and sarcastic blog about the right of way, I’ll spare no one.

It should be the job of your instructor to explain the existence of these rules but it should also be your job to remember them or check them out if you don’t remember them. It’s like you going to drive and you don’t know how to behave in the streets… it would be very dangerous no? Well … HEELLOOO?!?! IT’S THE SAME THING IN THE WATER!

So I’m am so tired to see Kiters not respecting the starboard priority; I’m tired of Kiteboarders that just kite 15 meters behind you and won’t leave till you cross the entire ocean without being able to change direction because there is this kiter behind you that won’t get out of the way and doesn’t recognize even the international sign of “mooooove away”; I’m tired of kiters jumping at 10 meters from the shore break when you are entering the water and they land the jump 1 mt from you and tell you “WATCH OUT YOU’RE IN MY WAY”; kiters who go kiting in a wave spot and they don’t know about the surfing rules and put in danger other kitesurfers; kiters jumping between students. Shall I continue?!

Every day, while teaching kitesurfing I witness so many accidents in the water, most of them (let’s say 99% of them) could all be avoided if people knew or respected the right of way.

AND HERE WE GO: LADIES AND GENTS GET YOUR S**T TOGETHER. KITING IS AN EXTREME SPORT. IT CAN BE DANGEROUS. IF YOU WON’T FOLLOW THE BASIC NAVIGATION RULES YOU WILL HURT SOMEBODY ONE DAY.

The IKO (International Kiteboarding Organization) has listed a number of right of way rules that will help everybody to kite in a safer way soooo let’s start from the basics:

Rule #1: The golden rule

The golden rule

This is very easy: when you are riding and you are about to cross path with another kiter who’s coming from the opposite direction – but you are NOT on collision course – the kiter upwind need to bring the kite up (towards the sky) and the kiter downwind needs to bring the kite down (towards the sea). In this way, you kiters can continue your navigation without getting tangled.

Do you know what upwind and downwind mean?

  1. Upwind is when an object, a person, or a point of reference is more towards the wind than you.

2. Downwind is when an object, a person, or a point of reference is farther away from the wind direction than you.


Rule #2: The starboard kiter has priority

Starboard VS Portboard

Let’s go on with the second rule that will save your life so many times 🙂

If you are on collision course with another kiter (meaning that you kiters are riding one against each other in the same line), the kiter that is riding starboard has priority and the portboard kiter must let the starboard kiter pass by going downwind or change direction 

Do you know what starboard and port board means?

  1. Starboard when the kite is on the right side of the wind window when riding

2. Portboard when the kite is on the left side of the wind window when riding

Very good, now that you know the most 2 basic rules you already know more than the 50% of the kiters out there!

Let’s continue! 


Rule #3: Kiter entering the water has priority

Rider entering the water

A kiter who is entering the water has priority on the kiter who exits the water. 

Why? The kiter on land or closest to the shoreline is more exposed to hard obstacles and wind turbulences. The kiter in deep water can always change direction and attempt a second approach to land as he is already riding in a safer area.


Rule #4: No priority on land

No priorities on land

Yes, that’s right..on land there is no clear priority “EH BUT GIO WHAT IF?” – “Just use common sense”

TEST: If you and another kiter are both walking towards the water and you are the one behind and upwind… who must be more careful?
YOU. Because the kiter downwind don’t even know about your existence!

Now, you know more than 65% of the kiters. Why stop here?!?! Let’s go on!


Rule #5: The slowest rider has priority.

Slower rider has priority

Yes, I know you have a Formula 1 Mercedes and you are riding like Lewis Hamilton and you ALWAYS stumble upon the dude or the lady with a Fiat 500 from the 80s going at 3km/h… sooooo frustrating isn’t it?

Guess what… THEY HAVE THE RIGHT OF WAY!

  1. If you are coming from behind the slower kiter they cannot see you (we still don’t have eyes on the back of our heads)
  2. They definitely cannot go faster …. They are with a Fiat 500 from the 80s…
  3. You can’t pretend they move out of your way because most probably > read point 1

What do you do? You avoid them by changing your direction or overtaking them downwind where they can see you.

COMMON SENSE RULE

Check behind you before doing a transition

This is going to be breaking news I know, but this rule about checking the surroundings applies ALSO when you change the riding direction. Look before you do a transition! 

Lagiokite

Very good, now you know more than 80% of the kiters out there! Do you want to continue to level up to Right of Way Super Sayan?

Let’s go!


Rule #6: JUMPS

Jump safety area

Wait, what?!?! There are rules for the jumps as well? Of course, my dear!

  1. First of all, please avoid jumping right on the shore break. That’s dangerous. Mainly for you as you can hurt yourself if you don’t land the trick (yes, the sand is very hard) but it is also extremely annoying and impolite for the kiters who need to enter the water (and as you can remember from one of the rules above… they have priority!)
  2. Avoid jumping in the students’ area… they are already not 100% comfy and don’t have full control so don’t scare them out!!!
  3. Find your space! Before jumping check the surrounding area around you, make sure you have enough space to land the jump without landing it on top of another kiter. “BUT GIO THEY ARE ALWAYS IN MY WAY” Nope, it’s not the duty of the other kiter to avoid you, it’s your duty to calculate properly the space that you need for the jump and to make sure there are no obstacles in that space (including others kiters). They say: keeping a 50m safety area downwind and a 30m safety area upwind will reduce many unexpected risks. I know this is almost impossible but at least check that you won’t land in the head of somebody else. 
  4. Never jump upwind from another kiter if there is not enough safety area between both riders. I wrote it twice, to make sure it’s clear.
  5. Never jump among other beach users such as swimmers.

Rule #7: SURF SPOT

Surfers have priority

If you go to a spot where the kiters are catching waves and surfing them there are defined rules there as well “NOOOO GIO WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT?!?” “I know… I know…you’ll buy me a beer later”

  1. The kiter who’s in the wave has priority. YES, that kiter has priority even if you are starboard. Why? Because the rider in the wave has less maneuverability than you.
  2. If there are two kiters in the wave – the kiter closer to the peak has priority – this rule comes from surfing … no questions here, please.
  3. If there is no peak the kiter who’s more upwind has priority as the upwind/peak kiter is exposed to the critical area of the wave while the other rider becomes a dangerous obstacle within the wave.
  4. Surf your wave till the end and then go back upwind respecting the circuit and waiting for your next wave. There are waves for everyone, catch your wave and let the others do the same. Snaking or jumping waves is definitely not polite, and can be very dangerous. 
  5. LAST BUT NOT LEAST: avoid jumping in the middle of the surfing spot while kiters are surfing the waves. IT’S REALLY DANGEROUS!

Thanks to Red Shark Fuerteventura for these nice images that explain more than well all of the above!

OMG! Congratulations you made it so far! You gain so many points! And guess I have something for you… another gift!

A BONUS TRACK > MIND THE STUDENTS

Please just stay away from students, you can easily recognize them because they are usually wearing a helmet and they don’t know what’s going on. So, please stay away from them… and don’t get pissed if a student crashed the kite on top of you
1) they didn’t do it on purpose – don’t get mad at them
2) you were inside of their drop zone
3) as a more experienced kite you could have stayed out of their drop zone.

Well, if you arrived to read till here I am pretty proud of you! I hope you’ll treasure all this knowledge and use it in the water the next time. Please remember that NOPE… the sea is no place for anarchy. So spread the word and send this article to all your kiter friends!

Ciao Ciao

Lagiokite

If you are not doing it already follow me on Instagram too 😛  and if you come to Tenerife come to El Médano to say “hello” in the windy days I´ll be at the beach working as kite instructor with the PKS Tenerife School!

The importance of choosing a good school when you start to work as an IKO kite instructor!

Senza categoria, The instructor life

As most of you know I’m a kitesurfing instructor, two and a half years ago I started to teach in Puerto Rico for a school called WindAddiction, and I immediately fell for the job. Teaching kitesurfing was like a fresh breath of new air and I absolutely loved it.

To be honest I knew this would have happened… so I was only getting ready to put in practice what my mind decided already. And so, a few months later I passed the IKO exam in Cabarete and I made this my main job. 

Unfortunately, Puerto Rico does not have any IKO centers and I had to leave anyway, so I started to look for another spot where I could teach kitesurfing. I submitted several applications and talked to quite a few schools. I wanted to come closer to Europe to be able, after 5 years in the caribbeans, to see my family and friends more often than once a year. Destiny wanted me to connect with Carlo, the owner of PKS – Professional Kite School – in Castiglione della Pescaia, in Tuscany. He convinced me very easily, besides the fact that Carlo is one of those people that have a great vibe, he talked to me about how they would have helped me in becoming a better kitesurf instructor. At that time, I had maybe 9 months of teaching experience in a school that wasn’t using the IKO teaching methodology (do not worry I’ll explain this in another blog post). I really needed guidance. And I thought, I need to take this seriously because I want kitesurfing to become my career and if I could have somebody who’ll explain more and give me all the tips and tricks of the job that would have been wonderful.

And there I was, in Tuscany, after 10 years out of Italy eating like a pig, drinking wine like there’s no tomorrow and learning how to teach kitesurfing. THE BEST COMBO EVER for the summertime.  Carlo stood up to his word, him and other more experienced instructors taught me a lot. Tehe positive sides of teaching in a place like PKS Beach are: the spot is flat, the wind is smooth and light, PKS is the only kite school around and we had a dedicated area for teaching. The challenging part of teaching in Tuscany is the light wind. Everybody can fly and relaunch a kite with 15-18 and above knots, but can you do it with 10? Coming from a place where the average wind was min 18 knots you can imagine I didn’t know how to fly a kite with 10-12 knots… With a lot of training and feedback and frustration I’ve survived the 10 knots conditions with a big smile as I brought home a huge amount of learnings! I was really lucky to find a school who wanted to invest time to train me and I will be forever grateful for this. 

Then I moved to Tenerife to work with PKS Tenerife, a new kite school  Carlo opened in El Médano in the Canary Islands. Well guys, we went from 10knots to 30knots. To give you the idea, in summer time we need to cancel the classes because there is too much wind. So you can easily understand that here, even though the IKO teaching method is the same, you need to adjust to the conditions 25-30 knots, shore break and 100 kiters in the water and 10 kite schools working in the same spot. Even in this case you will need the experience from somebody else to guide you to keep your student alive ;P 

GoinKitesurf | Kitesurf lessons in El Medano, Tenerife.
Normal day in El Médano

Now I am exaggerating but most probably I would not suggest somebody in her/his first kite instructor experience to choose a location like this.

The IKO course teaches you a lot but at the same time there is a lot of learning that comes from experience and practice with real students. A learning baggage that you will create with the hours you spend on the beach watching, observing and analyzing. 

If you do this job right, you will start to pick up all the small errors the students make and correct them immediately so that the lesson program will run smoother and the student will ultimately have a better kite control in less time. There are plenty of errors that are repeated among students and what really helped me discovering them, besides hours of watching the students, is also brainstorming with the more experienced instructors of the school. That’s also another incredible benefit to work for a school with an instructor group that helps each other overcome possible obstacles with students. There will always be that one error you didn’t know, or a specific case which you don’t know how to manage. And here, it’s when the availability of somebody like my boss Carlo, or more experienced instructor can make a difference mostly when you are starting your career as an instructor.

In PKS Tenerife we recently welcomed a new member of the team, an IKO Assistant trainer called Guido. For me it was like Christmas, I can spend hours with him talking about some of the teaching methods and how to apply them to different students. I’ve done almost 1000 hours of teaching and still I have two students that are blocked at the waterstart step. I’ve tried it all, ran out of ideas, and with Guido we discussed other possible ways to make them overcome their barrier. Curious to try them out in my next lessons with them.

It seems like an easy job, and it could appear a very repetitive job. I assure you that it’s not, or at least, it really depends how you do it, like any other job. Beside the fact that you are responsible to teach somebody how to practice an extreme sport, each student is different, they learn in different ways and you have to adapt to them to make sure they understand everything correctly.

So to summarize my biggest recommendation would be to find a kite job in a school where a head of instructor, or the boss will teach you all the tips and tricks of the job so that you will progress way easier in teaching kitesurfing.

Let me know your thoughts in the comments section!

Ciao ciao

LaGioKite