Kite Surfers in Cuba
Text & Photos: Alejandro Gortázar
The Cuban archipelago is made up of many small islands and keys. The Big Island, as Cuba is commonly known, is washed by the waters of the Caribbean Sea and embraced by tropical winds. These are some of the reasons why it is a perfect place for leisure and the ideal destination for holiday seekers.
Cuba is a great place to release all the energy, stress, and adrenaline built up by the daily tensions of work and modern life. It is also a popular choice for specialized tours designed to deliver speciﬁc activities such as those in the category of extreme sports.
You can go parachuting from different altitudes, either free jumping or in tandem with an instructor. There are also facilities for skateboarding, BMX, surﬁng, wind surﬁng, and kite surﬁng. Many of these activities have their own clubs to encourage safety and to organize competitions.
Each May, on the Playas del Este or Eastern Beaches near Havana, the European Union sponsors an event that showcases those sports along with some of Cuba's best DJ's playing great House music.
A group of friends invited me to go with them to the last event and, of all the sports, the one that impressed me the most was kite surﬁng. Even though I had already heard about the sport, I didn't know how extremely exciting it could be. The relationship between the kite surfer and his equipment was also much more complex that I had thought,
The ﬁrst time I tried it, I thought it would be impossible but I soon found myself cruising at what seemed like 30 knots and instantly forgot about every other sport I had ever tried and could only savour the pleasure of this extreme sport It was the best!
Kite surﬁng, also known as kite boarding, involves using the power of a large controllable kite to pull a rider through the water on a small surfboard or kite board. The kite surfer attaches to the board with foot-straps or bindings and has lines attached to the curved inﬂatable kite. The equipment for kite surﬁng is surprisingly compact and easy to carry due to the materials used.
Cuba has magniﬁcent beaches all along its northem coast. There are great places for kite surﬁng with winds appropriate to each surfer‘s skill level. Some of the most accessible and popular are Brisas del Mar and El Mégano along the Eastem Beaches. Those are suitable places for beginners since there are not as many people swimming and learning is faster. Varadero also has numerous places to kite surf and has magniﬁcent white sa.ndy beaches and crystal clear waters.
Talking to one of the kite surfers, I heard about the Intemational Kiteboarding Organization (IKO) which qualiﬁes instructors who want to teach. Among them is 21 year old Antonio Enrique Lusson, a pastry cook, who in his free time shows a great deal of audacity and professionalism in kite surﬁng.
Lusson: I have been kite surﬁng for four years now and I like using kites larger than the ones set for my weight. For example, my weight now is 73 kg and I should be using a 14 m² kite but I choose to surf with a l7 m² kite to give more power and momentum in jumps. I like facing danger and I practice to hit complicatedjump tricks.
CP: I was told that you might be preparing for the world competitions‘ Is it so?
Lusson: I might say that I still need to practice more to get there but there is a chance of that.
CP: Do you have a message for Canadian kite surfers?
Lusson: I would like to tell them that in Cuba they have a great number of brothers who would like to share the beauty of their island and touch the skies with them.