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Holiday Diary – Cape Verde Jan 08

The tiny island of Sal, formed by the eruption of a volcano, is the oldest island in Cape Verde. Fifty years on it is fast becoming a major tourist destination. Those that have joined us in our adventure to Sal, a remote island off the west coast of Africa , have been rewarded with a wide range of world class conditions. The archipelago of Cape verde consists of ten islands which enjoy the combined influence of Senegal to the east and Brazil to the far west. You get there and you’re like “Bloody Hell – its just hardcore”. Windy, cross shore and the coastline is just incredible. It’s real Africa – totally rough and ready. Sal is in a mass of development and after a few days this place just grabs you and you never want to leave. Every part of the island is accessible with such perfect and diverse conditions – from consistent one foot kickers rolling in, not even breaking, through to flat water and full on waves. You’ve just got to go.

Since visiting Cape Verde in April 2007 Eric and I planned to come again for its wealth of wind and waves. With 18 kitesurfers of different levels and abilities we meet at Gatwick 7.30am Monday 28th with our fair share of excess luggage. Getting this lot on the plane was a mission and there was kit being taken out of one bag, into another to enable check in to be happy! A short delay meant that on arrival at our hotel, it would have been a rush to get on the water for an hour before it got dark. Not worth it, time to hit the swimming pool and start some competitive races. Beer O’clock soon came round and the group began to gel.

Day 1

1st day of kitesurfing, 12-15knots north east on kite beach with all the edge team. Ideal breeze for the first day, many people not been out for a while with winter back home. Lee, Simon, Giant and Tony required the most of our time to begin with and the rest of the group happy to sail on 14m kites in our normal kite beach location. The Giant has been renamed ‘The Tank’ today and believe me it was well worth keeping out of his way on the water today, The Tank was always having the right of way!

Day 2

Morning run and swim followed by massive breakfast. We all arrived at kite beach to find a light wind day. Body dragging upwind followed by a snorkel out to the reef. Lunch at Punta Preta where the wave was building and we were to witness Steve catch some great waves on his surf board. Not enough wind for kitesurfing so we decided to head north and discover new places. Poverty was real however the children playing football, or outside their small shanty building, goats, pigs and cockerels these animals are proper free range! Discovery of Shark Bay was a big highlight of the day. This was insane we were driving past the ship wreck on the east side of the island and we stopped to take a photo then we look out and see a fin. Walking down towards the coral we discover very warm water, a lagoon for sharks to feed breed and live. This was a shark home! For an hour or so we watched and filmed the sharks very close – 3 meters away. Trip back salt mine. Night out at African.

Day 3

3 or 4 splinter groups. Run, swim, snorkel. Punta Preta session. We tried to catch a wave but it was directly offshore and we had too big kites to get amongst it. Later we heard that the wind went more east/south east and Mitu and his cousin were rippin! Gutted since this was the only chance to get Punta Preta working. With such a good wave down the west side we head off on a road trip to find a bit of cross in the wind. We discover Murdiera which is a bay up from Punta Preta and was windy from the east. It is getting late so I know we have to get on with it, I madly text everyone I think has got their phone with them and encourage to make the road trip. Although the spot had plenty of underwater obstructions it was a great learning experience for Tony and Simon. Teaching at new spot which has cross shore wind and plenty of it. Not ideal for beginners but we manage to get Simon, Ralf and Tony out on flat water 12m weather. Further north – kite spot Ali Bamba and little Ho’okipa discovery. Mad road trip. HGV the truck. The plant has a nose issue and has a new Cape Verde name – The Nose. The shag gets lucky at the Rui night club. Meal at The African, far too much all inclusive.

Day 4

Woke up to the sound of wind so as brief as breakfast can be we arrive ready for action at 09.30 kite beach to find 12m weather. Everyone was on it and trying to boost air or practice tricks. It was all about a full day on the water. Tony now going backwards and forwards well, nearly staying up wind and we made a deal that every time he dropped his kite he had to down a Caprini! Actually it worked and he did not crash the kite at all. Simon starting to edge well and getting back to the same place. Lee making his first few runs. Roger had his best ever kitesurf day nearly staying upwind and not looking so dangerous with the kite. Frank makes his second appearance on the water and still not looking happy. Dave Foa has an encounter with an Italian guy and has been re-named Mr Happy. Paul nails his toe side turns. Charlotte ripping on the 10m kite and now keen for some air time. Toby back loop kite looping with plenty of pull. Tom big jumps, the plant riding well and getting jumps to be proud of. New 10m Rhino 08 – magic kite. Afternoon – turtle head session. Pompey disaster. Carl lost his board then found it. Steph races Andy back from turtle head – not worth it! Fins seeen in the water so by 5pm felt it was shark feeding time and time to head in. Kite repairs. Chinese meal. Everyone tired.

Day 5

8AM bladder repairs. Looking windy at kite beach so we decide to head away from main crowd and go further up beach. Sunny and windy today with a great feeling. Busy getting everyone sorted and then Charlotte heads back to the beach in tears with what looks like a bad reef cut. After 10 minutes time out Charlotte is getting worse so all the doctors on the trip have a look at the foot. It is decided that Charlotte has had either a weaver/stone or ray fish bite which is why she is having a reaction to the toxins inside her. She is hyper-ventilating and in loads of pain so Tom, Simon and Tony administer prednisolone, paracetomol and anti-histamine. Charlotte makes a speedy recovery back at the hotel pool and has given us all a rather big scare. Everyone that has not put boots on now decides to! With all the action going on the shore side the wind has got steadily up and up. It is now 9m weather and pumping. Darren has a second kite mare, gets a big rip in his 9m kite. The Giant is doing well despite loosing a toe nail! Tony deflating kite. Lee improving. Simon on 9m Evo. Conrad getting every once of the day. Tom massive air. Conrad back loops. Paul toe side well and first jumps. Toby stylish with all his moves. BDF powered on the 14 Torch. Alasdair scares himself with a near death kite line experience. Ralf consistent, jumping higher. Downwind with Conrad back to the point. Everyone very happy.

Day 6

8am more bladder repairs! It is Tony’s other kite this time, perhaps all that sand on the kite as it gets packed away is not a good idea? Tony really enjoying this hands-on experience mending things and gaining plenty of valuable skills as Eric’s apprentice. We arrive on the beach normal time and it is 9 or 10m weather again. Today was all about getting the back loops nailed. Everyone was on it. Tom & Conrad can now back loop going both ways. Paul is getting round, Andy has moved to doubles and transitions including jump turns. Frank was on fire today, nailing big jumps, kite loops and sailing fast everywhere. Charlotte got back on the water and regained confidence with a few jumps by the end. Lee going to the left well and Simon sailing both ways with a small walk of shame. Tony and the Giant had their best ever day – now getting back to the same place. After lunch Eric decided he would have a head start to head upwind to turtle head for a wave session. He was on a 10m Rhino 08 and I was on 9m Vegas 08. He made me look like a beginner, he went up in 2 tacks and was going very close to the wind. Turtle head was best before the tide came in and although Eric had a few kite and board issues, we managed to see turtles and only 1 fin! By 4pm the group was thinning out at kite beach. Poor Paul’s hand looked like he had just sailed round the world. Andy decided that the last session of the day is the time to put all the tricks together and he was lovin it. Last off the beach (again) – cars back, shopping for the family, packing and plenty of Caprinis were the order of the evening. The evening table looked a picture of health, although people were hanging for a rest on the plane home. Conrad had made the decision to not kite tomorrow so played drinking games with BDF followed by a sleep in the yellow duck.

Last Day

7am breakfast with a 8am pick up to get to kite beach for the last and, for many, best session. The swell had built and there were some lovely steep sections to be had all the way along kite beach. It was colder and more cloud cover so felt a bit like the UK with warm water. To have to finish in these conditions is sad but it does leave you going home with happy memories of the place. Eric was the happiest he had been and was catching the bigger sets early and riding the reef break on his favourite tack. It was time to come in and start the mad pack to get our transfer on time. The hotel had never seen so much sand in their lobby! It was all very civilised with showers and even time for the final all inclusive meal with a cold beer! The Rui all inclusive concept truly works. We had an amazing atmosphere with a screen around us that meant we had no idea what the rest of the people on holiday at the Rui were doing! The hotel is huge with over 2000 guests, however we managed to create our own atmosphere and the fact that we could eat and drink as much as our tummy and head could take was unreal. Every time we eat or had a few beers there was plenty of beach banter to catch up on and with a good size group there was no danger of having enough of people! ‘I’ll get the next round’ – how easy was it to get far too drunk! One needed to be disciplined and remember that it was going to be windy the next day. We booked a table most evenings for everyone to be together and try different restaurants, however people did not have to join us if they did not want. Checking out you just hand over your key and there is no battle to work out the bar bill!

In Summary

Thank you to everyone that helped to make the trip a great success. It is the people and the relationships that develop that make these trips so special. People helping each other out and the team spirit that develops enables the group to enjoy the holiday. Wind, waves, good food & drink are obviously crucial ingredients also. This is the second time in 10 months that we have been lucky enough to come to Sal for kitesurfing and we have been blessed with good conditions. This time we came out on a poor forecast and got kites in the air everyday. The island is not pretty but will soon be much more developed and therefore busier on the beaches. Sal offers something special. That is that it is stuck in the middle of the Atlantic ocean blessed with wind and a wave somewhere. When you drive you can see the other coast, the place is 1 big sand dune in a mass of development that is slowly getting finished. We shall be back for its reliability, warm waters, easy flight time — great January location. For more info on 2009 Cape Verde contact us now since we plan to head out early Feb 2009.