From our apartment I looked out over the beach, the mouth of the lagoon and the ocean. During the morning hours it was quiet. A fisherman might be returning with his catch or somebody was going for a stroll along the shore. Somewhere after 11 am tranquility transformed into hustle and bustle, as if a silent alarm had gone off.
Let’s Go! The offshore wind had turned onshore and all of a sudden the subdued, relaxed atmosphere at our guesthouse had become one of energetic movements and excitement.
It was time for my kitesurfing course!
I walked down to the beach with the kitesurfers, watched them inflate their sails, lay out their lines, put on their harness but no wetsuits. One of the best things about kitesurfing in northeast Brazil is that you can do it in beach shorts and shirt; the temperatures are just perfect all year round.
Downwinders and a Multiple-Day Kite Safari
I looked at them with envy. They were experienced surfers who could go out on the ocean. I, on the other hand, had just begun a fifteen-hour kitesurfing course. As a beginner I had to wait for high tide and when the lagoon had filled up and it was safe for us. Today I would have to wait until 3 pm.
This was terribly frustrating but after all the stories I had heard from people here who had kitesurfed all over the world I knew that Tatajuba had the best conditions in the world to learn to kitesurf.
At this beach blows a constant, strong wind, every day: 5 to 6 Beaufort. It blows onshore from about 11 am to 6 or 7 pm. To give you an idea: Kite World Wide’s banners and flag that were raised on the beach only weeks earlier had already been torn to pieces. It makes this beach perfect for one-day downwinders: A buggy takes you 10-15 kilometers up the beach and you kitesurf back.
A Kitesurfing Course in Brazil
Kite World Wide organizes exclusive kitesurfing vacations to numerous destinations throughout the world. It has a rental shop on Tatajuba’s beach and Pousada do Vento provides a high-quality level of accommodation for their kitesurfers. During my course, the kite school had two instructors, one who spoke German and English. The second guy was an excellent kitesurfer from the nearby village of Tatajuba. He spoke Portuguese and was learning English.
There’s more: Kite World Wide organizes 9-to-12-day kite safaris. Each day the kiters surf downwind and stay at another guesthouse. During the entire stretch four-wheel drives are following the surfers on the beach so if anybody gets tired or has equipment problems, he or she can stop.
Security Measures of Kitesurfing
All these adventures were still way in the future for me. After a couple of hours of practice, I was still struggling to control the kite, which is the basic skill of the sport. You can’t rely on physical strength as a strong gust can lift you up and deposit you somewhere in the dunes. You need to understand the working of the wind on your sail. What makes it go up and down, move slower and faster.
I practiced in the knee-deep water of the lagoon. This was the safest place to do that because if the kite lifted me up I would end up in the water and wouldn’t be dragged over the beach. (In some places in the world ‘dry practice’ is the only way to start). It was one of the things I really appreciated in the two instructors: safety came first.
They hammered it in: the danger zones and the basic issues of security – whether this is about safe vs unsafe places to kitesurf, how to lift and lower your kite, how to release the kite if you can’t hold on to it anymore. All experienced kiters are unanimous on this, “Don’t just go kitesurfing, make sure to do a proper course.” I seemed to have arrived at the right place for that.
Frustration and Faith
As I speak Portuguese, Jackson, the local guy from Tatajuba, was teaching me. He was a fantastic kitesurfer and had tons of patience. I greatly appreciated the latter because, like many novices, I reached that point where I was mostly battling with myself. The sail was flying all over the place but not where I wanted it to go.
“Devagar (slowly). Let go of the bar. Devagar. Stretch your arms,” I heard Jackson’s reassuring voice behind me. He had hooked a line to my harness and firmly held onto it to help me keep my feet on the ground until I managed the sail.
“Okay, stretch out in the water now,” he instructed.
The practice is called ‘body dragging’, where you allow yourself to be dragged through the water while you manage your kite. The first thrill of excitement, of feeling the speed and the adventure flowed through my body. Yes! I was happy and relaxed. I knew I could do this. In time I would be kitesurfing on that ocean as well. I just knew it.
- Recommended: book a two vacation to make sure you can finish your course and have some extra days to rent equipment and really master kitesurfing.
- For those who bring their own equipment: bring small sails (6-10) as the wind is generally too strong for the large sails (12-14) X mostly used in Europe.
- There is no need to bring a wetsuit. For those who get cold quickly, the rental shop has a couple of sleeveless neoprene vests.
- For more information, check Kite World Wide’s website.