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TheKiteMag 52 The Mission Off Roading 8 1200x800 - Off Roading

Off Roading

Hydrofoiling enthusiasts Andrea Zust and Peer Schnyder from Switzerland headed to Boa Vista, Cape Verde for some winter sun and foiling fun. They wisely rented a 4×4, it being nigh on impossible to explore the island without one, and hit the sandy tracks that permeate out from the main town, Sal Rei.

WORDS: Andrea Zust
TheKiteMag 52 The Mission Off Roading 5 - Off Roading

Not many of our kite friends had been to Boa Vista before. We had heard a lot about the neighboring island, Sal, which is better known amongst kiters for its waves, and for Mitu Monteiro and co. We read online that Boa Vista is the less crowded and touristy, more easy-going island, with more deep-water spots and wind every day. Our main kite discipline is hydrofoil freestyle. We are sponsored by Armstrong Foils International and by Andy’s Kiteshop here in Switzerland, so when we go on kite holidays it is more like a training camp than a holiday. Boa Vista sounded perfect for us – a direct flight away from Zürich, instant warm weather in our cold European winter, plus kite bags travel free of charge!

Our first thoughts when we saw the island through the airplane windows: “It is really small, we can easily explore all of it in two weeks.” Excited about the trip, we loaded all our kite gear onto the 4×4 pickup truck that would be ours for the following eight days and drove to our hotel in Sal Rei. The first thing we noticed was that the sky was a little cloudy, almost foggy. We did get some sun from time to time but it wasn’t clear blue skies all day long. This didn’t bother us though as the weather was a pleasant 25 degrees anyway, with a warm 20 to 25 knots of wind blowing nearly every day. The island is pretty flat and dry with occasional bushes and palm trees.

We had planned all our excursions beforehand so we knew which spots were best for which wind direction and had checked the driving distances to them from our hotel. Little did we know that the ‘roads’ on Google maps weren’t really roads in reality. The paved main road went on for only about 15 minutes, after which everything was off-road… A distance of only 10km took us over one and a half hours and the 4×4 was essential. We drove along uneven sandy paths with rocks and little bushes on them, past the occasional donkey or goat, passing other 4x4s from time to time. Some places got really tricky as the sand was really deep and soft. We got stuck once in the middle of nowhere with no cellphone reception, two hours away from Sal Rei, and only a small bottle of water. By some miracle we managed to free the truck with the help of another kiter, Melanie, who joined us that day.

On our way to the various spots, we passed many tiny villages. They were so colorful and clean, which surprised us as they were so secluded, far away from civilization, only reachable by 4×4. Driving through, we saw many friendly local faces, smiling and waving at us. In general, the locals were welcoming and even when we stopped to buy something, they weren’t pushy or trying to get us to buy things from them as sometimes experienced in other countries. And wow, they sure can cook! The food was amazing – fresh fish, meat, vegetables, rice, you name it. Even the pizza and pasta tasted great and we Europeans are fussy about our ‘al dente’ pasta. We soon learnt however that you have to wait patiently for your food… the locals like to take their time.

We spent our days kiting, eating and going to bed destroyed at 9pm. The only cultural thing we participated in was Reggae Night at Morabeza, a once-a-week gathering where all the local youth from town come to party at the beach with live reggae music. It was a mix of all ages, tourists and locals alike, dancing together, having a blast. Sal Rei felt a safe place, even at night. The only thing you have to be aware of is not to leave your kite gear unattended. Some local guys warned us about groups that steal kite gear in the evenings. Even though we had this information, one of our wetsuits got stolen on our second day whilst we left it out to dry on our 4×4, only five meters away from our dinner table…

Now, let’s get to the interesting part, the kiting conditions. We didn’t bring any twintips along for our holiday, so we can only speak from a foiling point of view. In our two weeks on the island, we had it all – from perfectly flat water to shorebreak bigger than us, from lightwind foiling to shredding in over 30 knots. For foiling we found that the spot in front of our hotel in Sal Rei was, although pretty gusty because the wind blows offshore, still the best spot for training, with rescue boats and the hospital close by if needed. The only issue with having a foil there was the turtles! Luckily, we managed not to hit any although only closely avoiding collision a few times.

We also loved Ponto Antonia, a beautiful little lagoon in the north of the island with small waves close to the beach and bigger ones out back. The only problem there was the seaweed… Believe us, it is not a nice feeling when you get anchored by seaweed while catching a wave that is about to break onto you… We did get washed a couple of times there. However, you do also get better days without the seaweed as well.

Overall, Boa Vista was a great choice for us European kiters during winter, with different spots, varied wind conditions, and a few nice tourist attractions for days not on the water. It was pretty easy-going, a nice place to just relax and enjoy our training camp, I mean, uh, holiday…

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