Learning to kite foil in Cabarete, Dominican Republic
Kite Foiling From a Beginner’s Perspective
Perhaps in a moment of foreshadowing, the first time I saw kite foiling was in 2015 when Dare2fly founder Audrey Meyer could be seen stumbling about in the waters of Kite Beach with her new board on a stick…in exactly 8knots of wind. I have to admit, at first I wasn’t at all interested in trying it myself. I grew up in Florida wakeboarding, so it gave me flashbacks to those kooky Air Chair riders of the 80s. I mean, seriously. What were those guys thinking?? Anyways, I should have known better because Audrey always is ahead of the times. Two years later, we now own Dare2fly Kiteboarding School, and here I am learning to kite foil in Cabarete.
My Kitesurfing Skill Level
I’ve been kiting about five years. In Cabarete time, that’s about 1,000 days! So, I would say I have pretty good kite control by now, which is important when you are learning to kite foil. In my experience, since I usually ride freestyle with a twin tip and boots, my previous board skills didn’t prepare me much for riding on a foil board. I can see that spending more time on my directional will help me with learning transitions. I have also not practiced looping my kite enough, so I need to get on that, too. If I am to make any suggestions at this point, it’s practice both down looping and tacking and gybing on a directional as often as you can.
My Kite Foiling Equipment
We live on an island, and import taxes are atrocious! Often, we find ourselves in a “do what we gotta do” situation, as in the case of my first kite foil board. My first go was with an MHL Lift hydrofoil board that we bought second hand from Audrey. The mast was a tall 39 inches, so when the opportunity crossed our path, we bought a Slingshot Flight School Mast Package to go with the board. My go to kite has been an 8m Cabrinha Drifter.
I also always wear a helmet, except for in this video because I was pre-occupied with my GoPro. BIG NO-NO! In fact, I am looking into getting a full-face helmet because it seems highly possible to receive a foil to the face at any moment. So, please do as I say and not as I do: helmet first, GoPro second.
Kite Foiling Conditions on Kite Beach in Cabarete
I would be willing to say that you can kite foil on Kite Beach almost every day. It seems most people say that 8knots is the average minimum you need for kite foiling, although some go out in 6-7 knots. I like a little more since I am not that awesome at flying a kite in super light wind yet. We’ve had some people write us concerned about the reef on Kite Beach. Personally, I don’t see it as a problem once you get to know the area a little. So, make friends and have someone point out potential sketchy spots. There is about 250 x 250m area of wide open ocean between the beach and the reef. Unless it is the lowest of low tides, you don’t have to worry about touching bottom. As far as the traffic goes, for now, there aren’t that many people on foils. Maybe 2-4 kiters at a time. The numbers are growing, but it’s not crowded yet.
Kite Foiling First Impressions
At first, I was like, “Eh, whatever.” I didn’t necessarily see what the big deal is. Everyone was complaining how hard it is at first, and I pretty much got right up on the Lift board, did some intermittent foiling on the 39-inch mast, and didn’t crash too hard. I think I even found it sort of boring? I mean, I have been riding freestyle, so obviously I am super hard core and stuff (insert *rolls eyes* emoji here).
But then something changed my life: Boardriding Maui CloudFoiling videos. I’m pretty much a show-off, so all of a sudden I found myself wanting to be my version of Greg Drexler, which I like to describe as a “ballerina kiter.” I am obsessed with the way Greg makes it look like the kite is dancing across the sky and the water. I am awestruck by his gliding and twirling on the foil. I am just amazed by the way he pulls it all together to style it the f*ck out.
Progressing in Kite Foiling
At the time of “My First Foiling Video” I am on about day six of practicing. I had one session on the Lift, one session on the 15-inch Slingshot mast, and since then I have been riding the 24-inch mast. I can get up on the foil and cruise any direction I want now. So far, I don’t always know how to slow down once I get haulin’ butt in higher winds, so I just calculate a crash to slow down instead. I was trying to tack for transitions because I was hoping to avoid looping the kite, but today I decided I am going to see how I fare with touchdown gybe a few days to see which feels more comfortable. At present, all of it feels pretty uncomfortable. But I’m up for the challenge in the name of gettin’ my ballerina kite on. So, stay tuned to see how long it takes me to reach my goal.
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Have you tried kitefoiling yet? What are your impressions? Let us know in the comments.