BLOWN AWAY IN ANTIGUA ...
Antigua, Lesser Antilles in the Leeward Islands of the Caribbes ...
Maybe we should call it 'Dre Land Mon', after its talented son, Andre Phillip riding for Cabrinha
Antigua and its sister island, Barbuda are situated between St. Maartin and Guadaloupe.
The island ... Jabberwork beach is situated to the north northwest of the airport. Jabberwock is popular LONG sand beach launch with fairly steady, side to side shore winds,
The launch ... Jabberwock Beach
Full size: http://gallery.kiteforum.com/albums/alb ... VR_4_s.jpg
The island is rich in history, rolling terrain and WIND. That is to say it is well situated in the tradewind belt. We had winds hovering around 15 to 20 kts. most of the time that I was there. That was on the beach too, it was even better further offshore. There were small squalls on and off one day only from a tropical wave. The riding was great later on that same day after the last squall blew through.
Antigua wind statistics courtesy of Kite Antigua
Kite Antigua is owned and run by Nik Bohachevsk, a well experienced certified kiteboarding instructor. He runs a tight beach, focusing on effective and rapid instruction. The school is also owned by Alex Portman, a personable Englishman late of the Lotus Formula One racing team in Europe. The last owner is Eli Fuller, a well known early kiteboarder and hell-on-wheels competitive windsurfer in the Caribbean. Eli runs an Eco-Adventure Tour business on the island ( more at: http://www.adventureantigua.com/ ), something to checkout while you are down island way. Just be careful of jumping the wake of his boat when it is heading upwind into about 20 kts. of wind at a forward speed of around 20 kts, you might be surprised by the sudden lift it tosses out. I was!
The Adventure Antigua boat from http://www.adventureantigua.com/
There is a wealth of island info from air connections, to wind to launches to accommodations and more on the Kite Antigua website at: http://kiteantigua.com/
Nik with a student.
Louie, an ethusiastic student, models the Kite Antigua headgear complete with two way radio communication for optimized instruction. As you can see, students are rigged out not only with radio communication but helmets and impact vests. I suspect that most schools will use helmets and impact vests in the not too distant future but Nik was one of the first to start to provide these simple aids a while back.
Kite Antigua's map of the riding ground and cautions. Watch out for those shallow reefs, which really isn't hard at all. Talk about reworking your board and pedicure, ouch!
Full size: http://gallery.kiteforum.com/albums/alb ... .sized.jpg
The launch rules, for full size click:
http://gallery.kiteforum.com/albums/alb ... elines.jpg
Jabberwock Beach is an excellent sand launch with minimal reef/rocks on an island that abounds with rocky and lee shores and abundant shoaling reef areas. To keep it accessible to kiteboarding it is IMPORTANT that visiting riders abide by the house rules. Wherever you are traveling, be sure to look into local precautions via the Internet and Kitebeaches.com before you go. Please don't buy your gear and plan to figure out how to use it without any lessons before coming down. Get your lessons in before flying down or talk to Nik about his 10 hour kiteboarding immersion program for about $450. USD! For guys that are already on their game you are in for a treat! When I was there, off season admittedly but in one of the best wind months, a crowded day consisted of FOUR kites off the launch. For folks that come in season, early or late in the day when the locals like to hit the beach, KEEP well offshore (at least 40 m) to work to preserve access to this excellent launch. Access was lost some years ago in Dutch Bay adjacent to the airport, so be sure to look after this launch.
An aerial oblique shot of Jabberwock
A bit further offshore there are areas that frequently toss off swells perfect for ramping jumps. I was tempted to sign up with the AAF (Antiguan Air Force), the airtime was so fine over the five days that I was there. There are also areas where the wind speed picks up due to venturi and refraction effects, so get away from the beach and EXPLORE winds and waves of the bay.
Alex levitates over Prickly Pear Island (PPI) offshore. PPI was a personal favorite with me. How may places can you kiteboard to your own private white sand island?
So kiteboarding moms and dads, do you have trouble getting your 11 year old to take the trash out? You could threaten to ground his kite unless .... Here's Jake, just 11 seasons old and already handle passing and flying unhooked (with a kite leash)! An illustrated article just on Jake is coming. Jake is sponsored by Dereck Camacho Kiteboards and Kite Antigua. Dereck Camacho native born to Antigua but now of SE Florida ( http://www.dckiteboards.com ) was testing and evaluating some kiteboards while I was on the island. Serously though, I am not sure just how many 11 year old kids have the maturity, judgement and accumen to handle the demands of this sport. Looking at his focus when he rides, Jake may have that and more. By the way, Jake is in the market for a kite sponsor (hint).
Dereck Camacho checking out Jake and crew, sporting DC Kiteboard Gear on the beach in Antigua.
More to come in Part II, so stay tuned!