What do you do when Covid restrictions mean you can’t fly directly into the United States from Europe? Fly via somewhere hot and windy and park up for two weeks of course. That’s what Naish riders Katie Potter and Ewan Jaspan did – they hit up Turks and Caicos and made the most of conditions there. Playing the game…
Words: Katie Potter
Photos: Noè Font
This year I have spent most of the time traveling with the same small crew, which has been really nice. Ewan Jaspan, Ramiro Gallart and I have spent almost every day together for the last four months. Since leaving Australia back in March, we’ve constantly been moving: photoshoot in Maui, riding the kite park at REAL in Hatteras, then a quick stop off in Europe for freestyle riding, surfing, and competing throughout Portugal, Greece, and Spain. With Covid making it much harder to travel, we then had to spend two weeks outside Europe before being able to get back into the US. After changing our minds multiple times a day on potential locations to visit, we finally decided on the tropical Caribbean paradise of Turks and Caicos to visit our friend Kit Griffiths. This time Noè Font and Oswald Smith also joined Ewan, Rami and myself on the mission.
Getting to Turks wasn’t easy and involved three full days of travel with overnight stops through Brussels and the Dominican Republic. We had to fill out four travel locator forms each for all the layovers we had, plus book additional overnight accommodation and transport to and from the airport. The hardest part was checking in and unloading all of our bags at each airport. We almost missed our flight in Belgium because all the taxis refused to take our gear. With no bags in sight 30 minutes before our flight was scheduled to take off, we realized we were probably back to square one with planning where to go. Luckily the airline kept the check-in desks open 40 minutes later than usual just to get us on board, and we ran full speed through the terminal dragging two sets of board bags each behind us. It was quite a sight!
And of course, in the end, the final destination was well worth all the effort to get there. My first time in the Caribbean didn’t disappoint. We could ride every day, and most sessions comprised that light, consistent, and super warm, forgiving wind that makes you want to try new tricks. It was easy to get swept up in the luxury lifestyle the island had to offer. At H2O Lifestyle Resort, we would wake up at 7:30am, look out the bedroom window and see the most avid kiters already out there riding. Long Bay is Providenciales’s most popular kite spot and is literally right on the resort’s doorstep. It has crystal clear water, perfect for foiling and hooked-in tricks. Once we finished our session, we could continue to watch all the action from the beachside bar, pool, or hot tub. They also had catamaran sailboats and SUPs available for all guests to use, so the water sports action never stopped.
Kit, from Kite Safari Turks and Caicos, also spoiled us by taking us out every day on the charter boat to find the best flatwater locations for freestyle. We would change spots for each session depending on the wind direction and tides exposing sandbars and butter flat water. We met the local wildlife on our downwinders through the mangroves, running into a turtle and small nurse shark and seeing the iguanas that reside on Little Water Cay, another iconic kite spot. Towards the end of the trip, we were also lucky enough to meet Dreamer, a young playful dolphin that has grown up playing with Kit over the last three years. Kit could spot her and her mum cruising around from a mile away, so we got the snorkel gear ready and jumped in as soon as we were close by. She’s not shy and loved to interact with all of us even though we’d just met. You swim close to her, and she’ll mimic your movements and bump gently into you. We only explored a small slice of the islands nearby, but if you want to go on more extended day missions or camp out for a few days, there are even more spots and nature to explore.
It was a trip with many incredible memories – endless banter, insane style, and everyone throwing down and trying new tricks every session. Most sessions were followed with a rum and coke, poolside parties, and barbecue or slow-cooked pork to recover and recharge for the next day. It was fantastic to be surrounded by great friends and great riders, bringing good vibes, high levels of stoke, and progression. It was nice to unlock and add more style and technical grabs into my harder freestyle tricks. I already knew all of these grabs hooked in with foot straps, but to add the grabs to unhooked tricks with boots is a whole different challenge. To land these grabs properly, I really focused on keeping the kite pulling down towards the water before lifting my hand off the bar to grab the board. Luckily, I could ride a larger size kite in the lighter wind, which was easier to control while also focusing on getting my body and hand into the correct position.
Riding that hard and pushing your limits every day was tiring, so I was glad to have a few days of rest to recover in the H2O resort. Some of the boys managed to ride every single day – I’m still not sure how they managed to push it so hard non-stop for two weeks straight! All in all Turks and Caicos was one of those adventures I’ll remember for the rest of my life, and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to stop
off there before finally making it back to the US mainland and Hood River, Oregon. ■
This feature originally appeared in TheKiteMag #44. To read the full issue, subscribe here.