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TheKiteMag Feature Naish Team Europe 18 1200x800 - Naish Team Europe does Dakhla

Naish Team Europe does Dakhla

Naish Team Europe, which helps young riders with talent like Timo Boersema on their path to becoming a pro, last year did a trip to Leucate, France. Timo has grown to the international team and fresh talent has since been added to the Europe team. So with more nationalities on board, it was time to pack the bags again. This year, again joined by Stig Hoefnagel, they flew further south to the windy spot of Dakhla for another week of fun, sand, action and sore muscles.

WORDS: Linda van Lakwijk
PHOTOS: Arthur Samzun
TheKiteMag Feature Naish Team Europe 16 - Naish Team Europe does Dakhla

After all the good stories and fun videos from last year’s trip to Leucate, the new team was more excited than ever to experience the Naish Team Europe vibe for themselves. Buzzing with anticipation for their long-awaited trip, Jeanne Vanderick from Belgium, Julian Meijvogel from the Netherlands, Mathys Rumelioglu from France, Nais Balbinot from Italy and Noel Grassl from Austria headed to the airport. Naish international rider Stig Hoefnagel, part of Naish Team Europe back in the days when it was established, accompanied the excited young riders to share his experience of being a pro rider and how to make it in the industry.

We were invited by ‘Habitas Caravan Dakhla’, a new Naish center located at the lagoon of Dakhla. After a pretty short night thanks to a late flight, the team woke up greeted by endless stretches of sand dunes and the sparkling blue water of the lagoon. The sound of excited chatter filled the air. The riders were ready to experience the magic of Dakhla with a full week of wind in the forecast ahead. They had a busy schedule planned including a sunrise beach picnic. While preparing the picnic the wind started to pick up to over 30 knots. As they spread out blankets and unpacked baskets filled with delicious treats, they marveled at the power of the wind. Laughter filled the air as they chased after runaway napkins and held onto their plates, while the rest of the crew hid from the wind behind the cars – a memorable breakfast at the White Dune.

The first morning the riders went out to experience the spot and warm themselves up on the water. The atmosphere was immediately positive and the riders had a lot of fun together. Photographer Arthur Samzun and videographer Floris Tils joined them in the water to get some cool shots. In the afternoon it was low tide and therefore perfect to head to the famous Speed Spot. Offshore wind blows over a steep bank, which results in a super flat-water spot. The second day was lighter wind in the forecast and therefore the best day to shoot extra content for Habitas like the breakfast, lifestyle shots around the accommodation, and a yoga session.

In the evening it was time for a video analysis and workshop from Arthur and Floris about how to ride in front of a camera. Doing this requires different techniques to capture the perfect shot, not necessarily demonstrating the most extreme trick. Next to that it also depends on the type of camera the photographer and videographer are using. Arthur and Floris explained to the riders what works and what doesn’t work, along with examples from the day before. They learned a lot and could put this into practice the next day over high tide, the ideal time to kite the legendary White Dune – you’ve probably seen multiple videos of people jumping off a ‘white dune’ in the middle of the desert. The drive there can be a challenge, requiring a reliable 4×4, and not all drivers want to drive back at sunset… After a fun 40-knot session the team was exhausted and ready to hit the accommodation and score some food. It was just before sunset so they had to quickly pack and head back, to be out of the desert before it got too dark. However, when the wind is pumping in the desert, sand flies everywhere, and the vague roads were covered in soft sand. With one not-so-experienced driver in our midst, we obviously got stuck several times, having to get out of the car and push, while the flying sand whipped painfully round our legs.

That was by no means the only drama of the evening though… Bad luck comes in threes… Photographers and videographers like to bag the best shot in the best light, which is right before sunset. Floris quickly wanted to get some drone shots done and thought he could manage to catch the drone with his hand in 40 knots, resulting in a severe cut to his finger. Kim, part of the crew, ran out of the car to provide assistance, not realizing that you shouldn’t open a car door without holding on tight when the wind is full on. The result is a car door that no longer closes… Having to hold onto the door for the rest of the drive back, all covered in sand, and pretty much destroyed, we eventually got back to Habitas. This one can go down in the books…

After lots of training and fun on the water, we decided to organize a competition since not all the riders have participated in one yet. The crew went to the local market to buy everything needed to run a proper competition, including flags and a golden FIFA cup that was gathering dust in the corner of a vendor’s stall. The riders were ready to challenge each other and take home the cup. The trophy became a symbol of honor, bragging rights, and the team’s ability to entertain. The Naish Team Europe’s competitive spirits ignited, and they eagerly prepared to demonstrate their talent and claim the coveted prize. The riders hit the water in different heats, unleashing a flurry of spectacular moves. They all showcased their versatility and dedication to the sport. The judges (Stig, Paula and Linda) observed intently.

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Although the competition was a fake one, the experience left an indelible mark on Naish Team Europe. The golden FIFA cup became a cherished symbol of their shared love for kitesurfing. Beyond the thrill of winning, the team realized that the journey and the bonds formed during the fake competition were the true rewards. The memories of the exciting trip to Dakhla would forever unite them, a reminder of the friendships that have been formed during their unforgettable trip.

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