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Kiteboarding in the Caribbean

By now many of you have already seen kiteboarders in action,
but for those of you who haven’t, kiteboarding can best be described as a cross
between windsurfing and wakeboarding, with a kite being used instead of a boat
or sail for propulsion. And no, it’s not like parasailing. Kiteboarders use
wind to power a kite, which then pulls them across the water’s surface at
speeds that can reach over 30mph. Experienced riders are capable of using the kite
to perform huge jumps climbing to heights reaching 25-30 feet and soaring for
over 75 yards from launch to landing, and even novices are able to make these
jumps to a lesser degree.

There are many
different styles of riding in kiteboarding that are influenced by other
boardsports. Kiteboarders are able to sail upwind like windsurfers, pull
technical tricks like wake boarders, ride waves like surfers, and boost 25 foot
jumps in flatwater which is a feeling only a kiteboarder can experience. This
variety has added to kite boarding’s appeal and helped to make it the world’s
fastest growing watersport.

The basic
equipment consists of a kite, four lines, control bar, board, and a harness
(like those used for windsurfing). The kites have an inflatable frame that
keeps them rigid in the air and buoyant if they crash into the water. The kites
range in size from four to thirty square meters and are matched to wind
strength and the rider’s weight and ability. The kite, lines, bar, and harness
all fit into a pouch the size of a backpack and the basic board is about five
feet long making transportation of the equipment a breeze.

Naish, North,
Cabrinha, and Slingshot are the "big four" US kiteboarding equipment
manufacturers but there are many other manufacturers worldwide that have have
excellent equipment.

The Caribbean has become a Mecca for kiteboarding. With its
warm water, consistent wind, and tropical setting more and more kiteboarders
are traveling to these islands every year.

The most
publicized island for kiteboarding has to be the Dominican Republic. Excellent
kiting conditions, affordable accommodations, and lively nightlife have helped
to lure kiteboarders to Kite Beach in Caberete along the DR’s north coast. On
some days as many as 50 kiteboarders can be seen on the water. These crowds
have led to the development of several hotels and businesses in the area that
specifically cater to kiteboarders. Cabarete is home to the Professional
Kiteboard Riders Association (PKRA) World Cup, which will be held this year
June 21-26. This event will draw the world’s best riders to Kite Beach where
they will compete for $36,000.

The DR isn’t the
only place in the Caribbean with excellent kiteboarding. Puerto Rico,
Margarita, Antigua, St. Croix, British Virgin Islands, and just about
everywhere in between with clean and unobstructed wind can give any kiteboarder
a dream session. Virgin Gorda, BVI with it’s steady trade winds is an excellent
kiteboarding destination with a variety of spots to ride on any wind direction,
no crowds and friendly locals. The Saba Rock resort in Virgin Gorda’s North
Sound is a unique place to watch kiteboarders in action. With a bar literally
on the water, kiteboarders fly by within feet of painkillers and bushwackers
and will keep audiences on their feet all day.

There is no doubt
that kiteboarding is here to stay and not just a passing fad. While in the
Caribbean, take advantage of its excellent kiteboarding conditions and give it
a try.

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