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TheKiteMag 53 Valencia Tarifa 2 1200x800 - My Beach: Valencia  & Tarifa

My Beach: Valencia & Tarifa

Kiko Roig Torres is a talented strapless freestyle rider and recently came third in the Surfboard category of the GKA Big Air Kite World Championships in Tarifa. Although he currently lives in Tarifa, he’s originally from Oliva, a small town near Valencia on the east coast of Spain. We found out how both spots helped shaped his riding style.

TheKiteMag 53 Valencia Tarifa 15 - My Beach: Valencia  & Tarifa

What are your first recollections of the beach?

I grew up in Oliva, a little town on the coast of Valencia. The town is split in two parts, the one close to the mountains and the one close to the beach. My house is at the beach part and it takes just 10 minutes to walk to the beach so it has been part of my life since the beginning. I have always been in the water. Before competing in kiting I was competing in swimming, so water was a big part of my life. Since kiting I can’t remember how many times I went with my bike to check the wind to see if there was enough for a good session!

Can you remember any of your first sessions?

My dad and my uncle had a jet ski, and on the weekends we would ride it together. Close to where we went with the jet ski was the kitesurf zone. One day I told my dad to go there so I could get a closer look. When we got there, a friend of my uncle who was kiting took me for a ride and that’s how I experienced my first kitesurfing ride. Since that day I have fallen in love with the sport. I was 10 or 11 years old, if I remember rightly, when I had my first sessions, in Oliva, where I then kited for the first few years. There is only wind in summer so I didn’t kite that much.

TheKiteMag 53 Valencia Tarifa 6 - My Beach: Valencia  & Tarifa
Photo: Ramiro Gallat
TheKiteMag 53 Valencia Tarifa 10 1260x754 - My Beach: Valencia  & Tarifa
Photo: Samuel Cárdenas

Who else did you ride there with?

The first year I kited there with the guys that taught me to kite. We were a big group and it was really nice to kite all together. In the second year my cousins learned to kite and we went every summer afternoon to kite together. That year we started to do a lot of downwinders because there were a lot of kite restrictions there and it was the only way to enjoy kiting without getting in trouble with the police!

Can you talk us through the typical conditions?

In my hometown we have thermal wind that starts at around 2pm and ends by 7pm. It is usually 10 to 12m wind (when I was a kid this was 7 to 9m), warm water and without waves.

Has the set up there changed over the years?

The wind is still the same but a bit less. The weather is changing and it’s getting really warm with climate change; that’s something bad for our sport and could ruin a lot of kite spots. I love to go to Oliva in summer – visiting my family and kiting at home is magic. Since I moved to Tarifa I miss my family a lot and going there to kite at the place I learned is something that I will never be bored of. Now I need bigger kites to enjoy a session there but this is not a problem.

Why did you move to Tarifa?

Because the kiting is better! At my home there’s wind only in summer. In winter you would be really lucky to get one session a week. So when I was 15 years old I decided to leave my home and move to Tarifa to be able to kite more and train for competitions. It was a hard decision because I was moving alone without my family, but right now I can say it was worth it.

Do you think you would have got to where you are today if Oliva and Tarifa hadn’t been such familiar spots?

I would say both helped me a lot. When I was in Oliva I kited a lot in lightwind conditions and I learned my strapless tricks with these conditions; this helps me a lot at the competitions because any one on strapless was used to kite in lightwind conditions. Then in Tarifa I learned a lot with stronger wind and different wind conditions. Being able to kite Poniente and Levante in the same week is something amazing and perfect for training that you can only do in Tarifa. So for me Oliva and Tarifa helped me a lot, I think it was the best combination of wind spots. I miss having waves a bit at both spots though.

TheKiteMag 53 Valencia Tarifa 13 - My Beach: Valencia  & Tarifa

What would be your perfect day in Tarifa?

Right now a perfect day for me in Tarifa is a 30-knot Levante day with a proper kicker at Balneario, with warm weather and good friends!

Talk us through one session that stands out for you there?

For me the recent GKA competition at Balneario was one for the books. I hadn’t kited for one month before the comp, because of university exams. I received my kite just one week before the comp started so the kit was all new to me. Being there after a month of no kiting and with new kites was like a dream, and coming third in the World Championships was a dream that I never imagined, so I was really pleased with how that session went!

Where’s your favorite place to eat or what is your favorite meal after a session?!

Mmm, I really love to eat haha! I love all types of food except for spicy food. But for me a perfect meal after kiting would be a paella made by my mom at home – this is one of the things that I really miss – the food and my family.

If you had to choose another spot that you love but that is completely different, where would it be?

Another spot that I would love to be is Prea in Brazil. It has a similar wind direction as my home town but with stronger wind so for me this would be one of my dream spots to be. I won’t be going there anytime soon though. My next plan is to go to Valencia to visit my family for a few weeks, and then come back to Tarifa to train for the next GKA competition in Sylt. This will be the only competition I do this year outside of Spain.

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