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Monday, 28 May 2018

Kitesurfing in Goa

Gusty winds, choppy waves and lots of open water. Imagine zipping down the coastline, getting a glimpse of Goa’s gorgeous natural beauty from the outside looking in.Welcome to kitesurfing in Goa, a sport that capitalizes on location, climate and the challenge of unexplored adventure destinations.

You’re getting your workout in, traveling to the best beaches in India, and basically making jaws drop without leaking gas from a rented jet ski or yacht into the ocean.

Back in 2006 when Philippe Dartnell made his move into uncharted territory in the sunshine state, the beaches along the entire Konkan coast were largely empty of adventurous surfing souls. “I started kitesurfing back in 2004 when there were very few schools and lessons were expensive. So I learned the hard way by myself – with friends, videos, books, etc,” recalls Dartnell, who is the founder of the first kitesurfing school in India.

Over the years, the certified IKO (International Kitesurfing Organisation) instructor has trained dozens of eager learners through Yogi Kiting at Morjim beach, which is today one of the best spots to go kitesurfing in Goa, attracting even international athletes.

Still, you don’t really think of those big power waves champion kitesurfers love when you think of Goa. It’s a more relaxed destination – the sense of ‘sussegado’ seems to extend to nature as well. But Dartnell thinks that’s actually an advantage: “Goa is not a high wind destination but it’s a great place to learn as 80 percent of the sport is flying skills and light winds are preferable to learn with.”

Kitesurfing is one part of kiteboarding, the sport that combines surfing, wakeboarding, windsurfing, snowboarding, skateboarding and sailing into an extreme adventure. Kiteboarding can happen anywhere with high wind and wide open spaces – a sub-zero area with tons of snow or ice, a desert or the gorgeous ocean. On land, however, it’s more popular as flyboarding.

While there are dozens of places around the world you can head to, kitesurfing in Goa offers the perfect match of space and conditions to learn as well as affordable classes. The best beaches, Dartnell reveals, are up north, very close to Fort Tiracol Heritage Hotel. “Morjim, Mandrem, and Arambol are the best. The beaches in the south have great potential too. As we launch and land our kites from the beach, one does require open space,” he explains.

Mid-January to May is the best season to go kitesurfing in Goa as the northerly cross onshore winds hit land during this time. It’s best to start when you’re confident of your swimming. Being able to swim at least a hundred meters out or back to the beach is imperative so you can get to safety if need be. Dartnell adds the minor requirements of being reasonably fit and devoid of major lower back or knee issues for a smoother learning process.

But a word of caution hangs in the air. He points out, “The most common misconception is the ease of which one feels they can learn and in the shortest possible time. There are no shortcuts. One has to put in the time and effort during the learning phase and then follow up with a lot of time on the water. The upside is you don’t forget as it is a muscle memory sport akin to learning to ride a bicycle as a child.”

So get board shorts out and hit the surf. The monsoons may be approaching but if you make friends with Dartnell, he just might tell you of those spots where it’s still possible to go kitesurfing in Goa all through the year. Other Notable mentions are the Vaaayu Watermans Village in Ashwem as well.

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