"We are Sarah Sylvester and Richard Boughton, the UK importers for Jochum and Nesler, JN Kites. We sell and repair kitesurfing equipment in the UK, take part in competitions and travel the globe kitesurfing. Read all about our adventures here!"

Friday, 23 March 2012

For Sale - Circle One Skim 54"

54" Circle One Skim, perfect for light wind, and excellent training for riding strapless  and general balance, injury rehab etc.

Nice and light, and friendlier to the shins/wallet than the Nobile option. It rides well backwards and has a comfy EVA kickpad. It has a small few dings which have been repaired. It's good to go. I could even scrape the wax off if you really wanted.


(original price was £175)

I am getting a new carbon one. Saucy. 


Friday, 16 March 2012

Union Island - A Kitesurf Paradise

On our various trips to Brazil over the last 6 years we keep running into Ocean Rodeo team riders / promotional gurus Jeremie Tronet and Linn Svendsen. The lovely French-Caribbean / Norwegian couple have now set up their own kite centre with school in the Grenadines, mainly serving the passing yacht trade. See: www.kitesurfgrenadines.com

So knowing that this pair wouldn't settle somewhere with anything less than amazing kite conditions, we thought we might go and check it out. We shot a bit of video of Sarah kiting which you can watch below. This gives you a good idea of how good the conditions were :)

After a very good autumn/winter season in the UK the long range forecast all of a sudden looked very bleak, so we booked a cheap flight to Barbados with Mr Beardy Branson Airways, organised the transfer hop flight with Mustique Airways (thanks Keisha) who offer an excellent range of reliable winged caravans.

From above (Pic stolen from Hannah Darling)
So after some Twin Otter hi-jinx, some confused but amusing conversations at customs about what was in the huge kite bags, and the arduous hotel transfer (30 second ride on a golf buggy), in what seemed like no time at all with the time difference, we had travelled from a freezing and drizzly Gatwick to sunshine, palm trees and clear blue water. We stayed at the Anchorage Yacht Club, which mainly acts as a transfer point for luxury tourists travelling over towards the Palm Island resort. The hotel is about 100m from the kite spot and is extremely convenient. The staff are very helpful and friendly as well, and the Wifi runs as smoothly as the supply of Pina Coladas.

Not too shabby view in front of the rooms at the hotel
The wind over the duration of the trip was excellent, with 10 out of 12 days kiteable and really it was more like 11 out of 12 but one morning we were particularly hungover. The wind follows a daily pattern. It kicks in at about 8 in the morning and is at its strongest (18 - 20 knots) until around 1pm. It then has the courtesy to mellow out a bit over lunch time (although it's still rideable) to allow you to have a leisurely lunch. By 3pm it's back up to speed again, and gradually gets stronger until sunset. We quickly settled into a routine, and found an early start and a long lunch, possibly with short snooze afterwards, let you have 2 or three hours in the morning riding quite hard, and then a more relaxed sunset session before cocktail hour. As you can tell it was pretty tough over there, but we coped.

The main spot set up is very good as well, with a large lagoon protected by a reef. It's shallow and flat, and great for training, the bottom is a mixture of old coral and sand, so nothing much to bump into. You need to be confident upwind to ride here, and stay away from the airport end which is marked by some buoys. The tides are tiny, so not much to worry about there.

Wang Ping
There are very few kite spots with in-water bar/BBQ services. Happy Island was built by an enterprising local who kept dumping conch shells on the inside of the reef until there was enough reclaimed land to build a bar on. All the yacht tenders moor up there for a stunning sunset and Jeremie sometimes puts on a big air show much to the delight of the punters.

Happy Island Sunset
From a beginners point of view the best bet is to head off downwind to Frigate with the school and enjoy the huge amount of space, and boat support. If the wind switches a little more easterly (away from the normal north east) the potential for freestyle down here is spectacular. It looks like a few years ago they started building a huge dock for more boats, and they must have run out of cash and work stopped, leaving a man-made spit creating some rather tasty flat water. Running downwind to here from the centre is worth the ride just for the experience of hopping in and out of the reefs. Half way down is an enormous turquoise bottomed lagoon which is worth hanging around in for some time. Frigate island itself looks like somewhere a Bond villain might have his lair. It's extremely spectacular.

Frigate from above
Jeremie and Linn can further amuse you by organising day tours to the other islands close by. We went up to Mayreaux for a quick kite on a little reef break, and to the Tobago Cays, and stopped somewhere they filmed Pirates of the Caribbean, where a month or so back, part of a Russian space rocket washed up rather bizarrely. This was a great addition to the trip. Everyone likes messing around on boats. We finished up the day with a sunset downwinder in light wind back to Union with the boat following.

Russian space rocket anyone?
Every full moon they are running a beach party at the centre, where the whole Island comes out to enjoy some dancing, rum and night kiting. It's an eclectic mix of locals, yacht dwellers and kiters, and made for some amusing moments.

Check the moon.

Food wise, high recommendations need to be given to:

Big Citi - the local canteen diner above a yellow building in the square. This is very reasonably priced, the food is tasty Caribbean dishes like conch stew, BBQ chicken and a sandwich called the 'mumbler' which was absolutely off the chart if you are into chicken.

Captain Gourmet - Just off the square towards Ashton, this is run by local French folks, and as you would expect provides great breakfasts, bread, croissants and most importantly coffee. They also import luxury goods from France and all over the place, so if you need some champagne or confit de canard in a hurry, this is the place to come. Watch out for the chocolate muffins.

Marie's Pizza Place - Located opposite the ferry dock, Marie became our temporary mother for 12 days. Initially she wooed us with amazing seafood pizza and pasta, and then let us order what we would like the next night the day before and she would source it. This meant every night we had delicious home cooked food with a French twist. This was great compared to other small island experiences we had like in Cape Verde where the food was generally terrible.

So all in all it was an amazing trip, and very do-able for a two week holiday. A huge thanks go to Jeremie and Linn for showing us a great time and sharing their spot with us. I think we would definitely be back, the potential for waves is also very good in the right conditions, and we didn't really touch on that on this visit.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

This time last year.....

Remember the good times?

So last year we were graced with decent ground swell from the south and some cranking north westerly wind, and this year we seem to have nothing but light offshores and fog, which is all well and good for surfing but the kitemonster is literally clucking to get out.

Bored out of my tiny mind yesterday, I decided to take advantage of the massive spring tide (0.4m low) and go and see what makes this wave jack up so nicely.

Mordor. Wouldn't want your leash stuck round that.

OK, so you are always aware that it's rocky under there, but I wasn't expecting it to look quite so evil. This is definitely a no leash situation (board or kite leash for that matter) The only saving grace is that I normally only ride this at a highish tide meaning that if the proverbial did hit the fan there would be some safety margin. The wave also isn't exactly heavy so chances of being taken this far downstairs would be fairly slim. So as you walk out west from here, further towards the sea it shelves off pretty steeply down to sand. When I had my mega washing incident a year or two back I swam in and clambered out over similar stuff, the secret being to duck dive the wave as best as possible, and if it does throw you down, protect your head.

The mind boggleth....
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