Photos by Highlight Productions and Dakhla Downwind.
I personally had to not take part in the first days of the downwind due to equipment problems, well, actually my gear did not arrive on the first 5 days of my stay in Dakhla as you could read in the Part I of this blog.
I joined the rest of the group on the 3rd day of the downwind and, what I didn't know is that, I was about to experience one of the hardest days of my life.
I just figured out that this was the longest and the hardest day of the whole downwind,with over 110km to do ,and more,this was the day with the crossing of Cape Basrbas one of the most hardcore parts of this whole adventure, a big bay of 35 km, with over 16km of riding cross wind in high sea; true mountains of water in front of massive cliffs and and big current with nearly no margin for the assistance boats to do any rescue if required. We were about 2 hours away from the start when everything seemed to come apart like in the movies, the kite of the group leader broke down!! I took a bit of action and pushed a little emergency meeting to restore things. Reorganization happened which meant that Soufiane would be leading and I would be in the back together with Abde making sure the group was staying safe and together.
The journey was totally exhausting. I am an athlete, I spend a lot of time in the gym running and preparing myself physically for my training journeys but, this leg of the downwind was just insane, for everyone! Somehow, I gave myself the duty of being the motivator and energy maker of the people who started to be tired and started to slide to the back of the group so, imagine; you're not only exhausted yourself but you gotta keep a strong attitude to help the others. After +7 hours we made it to the end. The feeling was weird, we were stoked that we made it but, we were so tired it was almost hard to smile. I decided to ask some of the participants for their opinion of the downwind and… I think it's better you judge for yourself:
“My favorite part of the downwind was needing to call on many different kite skills to deal with the varying conditions during any one day. Wind varying from 15-35 knots using the one kite, dealing with ocean swells, beach breaks, flat water all the time keeping an eye on your fellow kiters. Truly a team effort. It was a great mental challenge to overcome the physical drain and if was only for the support of Julia and Abde that kept me smiling and feeling awesome at the end. It is true only from the deep lows do the great highs be achieved. On the hardest day dolphins surfaced next to me which I took as an omen of safe passage and it really made me think all would end well for the day. Even the passing turtle taking a look in between added to that notion.”
“My favorite part of the downwind was all the great people that I met along this wonderful experience, and all the magnificent landscapes we’ve been through.
The hardest part for me was day 4; after 7 hours on your kite you start asking yourself what you're doing in that big ocean and what the hell is wrong with you. Seeing the big white tent was one of the best feeling of my life… It meant we made it !!!
“I've never been in either Dakhla or Morocco before and I'm not anything like a pro rider, but I love to spend every possible time on the water so… I was really keen for this adventure. I liked the good vibe in the whole group, this didn't just include the participants, but furthermore all the people who took part in this event (all the people working for and on the event), for example one of the legs, I had to spend it on the boat and I had lot of fun. The best memory and at the same time a huge challenge in the event (besides sleeping in a tent, in a desert, with 30+knot going) was the huge bay crossing we did. I've already done something similar in Germany but here ‘you gotta be fast' and, at the same time you have to take care of your gear and stay as safe possible. You also have to watch out for the rest of the the group. So you better do not mess it up. We did it!”
Should I join next's Dakhla's Downwind?
Some of the participants said: “I would recommend it to people who are largely self sufficient of mind and spirit. You need the group to come together which we did to carry everyone along but you cannot reply on the group alone, you for sure need some independent mental toughness. You need to think and you need to assess your own safety as well as those around you. Looking forward to doing it again.”
“I definitely recommend it to anyone who want and need to test their limits. Words cannot describe what we’ve been through. WHAT AN ADVENTURE!!! A LIFETIME ADVENTURE!!!”