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@skatermanco 6071 copy 1200x800 - Two Smoking Barrels

Two Smoking Barrels

Big wave rider Nuno “Stru” Figueiredo loves getting barrels at the renowned Portuguese spot Supertubes. But when this winter only brought one decent session – as snapped by Heidi Hansen – he headed to a secret, not for the faint-hearted spot in Cape Verde that provided him with some epic barrels and us lucky lot with some envy-inducing photos from Antonio Herrera Trujillo.


This winter in Portugal brought little wind, just some light offshore days – great for surfing but not so great for kitesurfing. Finally, January 2023 brought a storm with an okay wind direction and reasonable sunny gaps between the rain. The media was warning that the wind might reach 100km/hr with swell around 12 meters… It was a code red for the whole Portuguese coast line. My first thought jumped to the biggest wave on the planet, Nazaré, but the wind direction was too onshore and unstable to consider it for wave riding. Instead, I met up with José “Silverkitesurfer” Carlos and James “Storm” Carew at the European capital of kite barrels: Supertubes, Peniche.

James was pumped up to go out and became the guinea pig to check how challenging and gusty the conditions were [Ed: you might have spotted his photos of the session earlier in this mag]. The tide wasn’t the best but after seeing him catch a good one I couldn’t stop myself and had to go out. The wind speed and direction were super unstable, changing as bands of rain passed by, and to make it even harder the waves were choppy resulting in some of the worst wipeouts and beatings that I can remember. At one point I had to check my fins to see if they were actually the right ones! Perhaps I should have ridden with straps but there is no better feeling than making a good barrel and being able to adjust your feet and press the rail in the right spot without straps getting in the way. After battling for three hours I’d scored some satisfying barrels, jumps and maneuvers, at the cost of a broken surf leash, salty water up the nose, and sand in strange places…

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Sadly there wasn’t much good wind after that session. So my eyes started wandering to other spots round the world…

After several visits to Cape Verde since the KSP competition in 2011, I noticed some surf videos from there that were not the norm, filmed at a unique long barrel wave with a scary double-up slab. That made me search further, combining tales from both the surfing world with the kitesurfing one, and I realized that it was a must visit. Unfortunately, when I decided to explore this Cape Verde wonder, Covid showed up, postponing my eagerly anticipated trip. With an epic forecast on the charts showing two heavy swells in March this year, it was finally time to fly to probably the heaviest right-handed kite barrel in the world.

On first glance it was hard to understand how this wave actually breaks. My first rides were always out of place and I was either too deep or too far forward. My knowledge of kite barrels from my Supertubes playground was obsolete. This wave is created by the swell increased by an outer reef that then plunges into a shallow, sucking inside reef that creates a step like the Australian wave “The Right”. It goes without saying that the learning process was painful with a lot of wipeouts and kite crashes, but the outcome was rewarding. When you start to understand this tricky wave and how to position your board, body and kite, magic happens and dreams come true… I can easily say that I achieved my best kite barrels ever.

There was one particular wave that will stay in my memory forever where I went too deep in the barrel and I decided to pump the board twice to try to make the section. In doing this my brain assumed that I was just surfing and I completely forgot I had a kite with me. I managed to make the barrel and when I was just out of it in the channel, something pulled me back. It was of course my kite that eventually crashed in the water and stopped me. Luckily my new WS survived the smash and I was all smiles anyway… This wave exceeded my expectations and made me promise that next time I step onto an airplane it is to go back there.

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