Breezin’ Along

Breezin’ Along

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Discover the Joy of Kite-surfing and Windsurfing

By Hilary Diack

With so many good accredited schools in Egypt now offering lessons and equipment hire packages for every level, from the ‘how can I avoid getting my hair wet’ novice to the more experienced adrenalin junkie, there is little excuse for not giving these fast-growing sports a try.

What you need to know:

  • Wind speed and water conditions are important. Choose the right location and conditions for your level of experience. Learners should look for a reasonably sheltered area with a steady breeze of around 20 knots. Water should be quite shallow with a sandy bottom.
  • Don’t expect to be an expert within 5 minutes. You need to learn the techniques and safety aspects before you hit the waves or take flight.
  • Make sure you sign up with an IKO certified instructor.
  • Ensure that any centre you use has boats, safety equipment, radio assistance and first aid knowledge.
  • There is usually a good selection of reasonably priced hotels and camps close to popular water sports destinations in Egypt. You will have the chance to meet fellow kite-surfers, windsurfers, paddle boarders and kayakers and learn a lot from their experiences.

Kite-surfing

Beginners start by learning about equipment, how to choose the right harness and right sized kite, and safety procedures. When the instructor sees that the basics of controlling the kite have been mastered, the next step would be an instructor- assisted ‘body drag’ through the water without a kite board. This way you can familiarize yourself with the pull of the wind and water conditions. The kite board may come with or without foot-straps and bindings, and combined with wind power, it allows you to skim across the water and propel yourself into the air.  Most beginner courses work toward getting you to the point where you can launch by yourself while using a board. An intense weekend course should be sufficient to get any learner conversant with launching, landing, and usage of the bar.

Once you start, it is important to find opportunities to practice. As you become more proficient you can go on to master maneuvers and take on more challenging conditions.

Top Tip: Even when you have progressed enough to manage alone, it helps to have a ‘kite-buddy’, someone to help with launches and keep an eye out for you (and vice-versa).

Windsurfing

First you have to be able to maintain your balance on the board, your instructor will give you the training you need for this. The next step is to learn the turns and jibes, in other words, the basic maneuvers that allow you to change direction. Learning how to ‘take off’ from the beach or while already in the water is part of the beginner’s skill base, so plenty of practice is needed.

Windsurfing is possible in winds up to 50 knots, although most recreational surfing is carried out at a wind speed between 15-20 knots. With practice, it shouldn’t take too long for a keen windsurfer to be able to perform more advanced moves like wave jumps and turns at speed. A great family sport, children can start lessons from around 8 years of age.

Locations:

Dahab:

One of the most established windsurfing spots in the Red Sea, Dahab is blessed with good wind levels and water conditions year round. Beginners have sheltered water close to shore, and experts can venture further out to practice their jumps on a swell that can reach up to 4m.

El Gouna:

With a predominantly northwest wind, cross-shore, conditions are ideal at Mangroovy Beach for all levels of kite-surfers. There is constant surveillance, and the beach is well equipped.

Hurghada:

Well-established with windsurfers, Hurghada has also become a popular destination for kite-surfers in recent years. Generally the wind blows side onshore from the left, and there are several sheltered bays south of Hurghada that are suitable for kite-surfing.

Windsurfers are well catered for as well, with most hotels offering centers for lessons and equipment hire.

Marsa Allam:

Popular with experienced kite-surfers, with long stretches of coastline and huge bays, there is a ‘Baby Bay’ where learners can safely pick up experience.

Ras Sudr:

One of the most popular destinations for both kite-surfing and windsurfing, Ras Sudr is a relatively short drive from Cairo, making it ideal for a weekend trip. Although previously not known as a major tourist destination it is now definitely on the map for those in the know, due to the growing reputation of its friendly, laid back atmosphere and excellent kite-surfing and windsurfing centers. It is family friendly, with safe swimming and recreation options for all ages.

Safaga:

Protected by a long range of mountains, water conditions are generally flat and create near perfect conditions for kite-surfing. The wind is lighter in the morning, but in the afternoon can pick up considerably. Safaga is good for all levels of windsurfers, with the shore area fine for learners.

Sharm El Sheikh:

Not just a divers’ paradise, Sharm also offers some pleasant spots for kite-surfing in the Nabq Bay area to the north of the main town.

Soma Bay:

Considered by pro’s to be one of the best kite-surfing destinations in the Red Sea, Soma Bay is protected by small islands which keep large waves away from the shore. There are still small and medium waves, as well as easy flat patches, meaning that Soma Bay is suited for kite-surfers of all skill levels. With an excellent infrastructure, it is set to become a major attraction on the global kite-surfing circuit. The same conditions make it a destination of choice for all levels of windsurfers, with the shore area at high tide especially suited to beginners.

* Please refer to our address book for contact information for centers offering lessons and equipment hire.

Valuable Link:

 

The Chamber of Diving and Watersports (CDWS)

http://www.cdws.travel/windsurfing/practical-advice