We've done a little on the Uncharted Kite Sessions Cabarete Camps before, and they sound like a fantastic way to spend a week. Paula Novotna and Colleen Carroll helped host one back in April, and it looks like it went down a storm. Here's the inside scoop from Andreas Lagopoulos.
Right from day one it was blowing like stink. After a temperamental winter, the trade winds kicked in full force for our amazing week in Cabarete, Dominican Republic. With world kiteboarding league star Paula Novotna, and Kite Park League champion Colleen Carroll leading the way, it’s going to be an epic week of kiteboarding and coaching. With a full group of eight enthusiastic girl chicas, we were set to have an amazing week of kite surfing and creating unbelievable memories.
Day One got off to a bang with a perfect twenty plus knots and blue bird skies. All the girls hit the water eager to improve their kiting abilities. Equipped with Bluetooth bbTalkin radios, Paula and Colleen were able to ride with the girls out on the water, giving feedback and instruction in real time. The pros kept their hats while the girls traded hats between each other when it was their time for coaching. Every rider was anxious for their turn with the headsets. It’s not every day you have the opportunity to have the best riders in the world correct your style. Butterflies in the sky. Our first day ended with smiles all around. Everyone kited until they could kite no more, and then they had a cold beer. With cold cervecas in hand, the girls hung out by the beach on the ocean side deck getting to know each other better, and reminiscing on their first successful first day. After a quick break, the girls rejoined under the soft lights of Tuva restaurant for a much deserved dinner. Tuna tart-tar’s, fresh ceviche, fresh grilled fish, delicious local vegetables, and always a chilled glass of wine made for a fantastic first dinner.
The rest of the week
Day two and the wind was blowing since before sunrise. Eager to ride, the girls almost skipped their video review. Patience was a virtue, but it paid off. EyeFly films works tirelessly over the night to edit down all the previous days footage to short edits of each rider slowed down to 50% speed. This allows for Colleen & Paula to review each riders technique with precision that only comes through their own mastery of kite surfing. Paula & Colleen’s trained eyes break down the technique of each rider, pointing out weaknesses and strengths in their form, always tweaking their position. How you think you look riding, and how you really look are often not the same thing. In my head I ride like Kelly Slater. Reality, maybe not so much… Straight onto the water after video review the girls are eager to put into practice exactly what they’ve learned in the review. Right away the information has processed, and everyone is already riding better than the day before. It’s a mad dash for who gets to wear the bbTalkin headsets first. But as it’s windy all day, there is more than enough time for everyone. Another full day of kiting and all that’s left are the standard cervesas, laughs & smiles. Crashed out on the beach deck, the girls unwind from a hard day of riding.
Another quick break and we reunite on the drive to Natura Cabana for what is always a delicious meal. Like every restaurant we visit in Cabarete, the food is fresh and delicious.
Day three I’m starting to see a couple of the girls walking funny. It means I’m doing my job; they all have silly grins and they’re kiting till they walk funny. Perfect. Like every morning we begin with video review. Right away you can see the difference in all the girls riding styles form the previous days video. Without proper stance and position, you’ll never reach your kite boarding goals. Now every rider has the right position.
A quick bite to eat after video time and we all hit the water for another 20+ knot day. The wind gods have been shinning on us, and we’re taking full advantage. The comradery amongst the girls has now reached full romance. All the girls get along swimmingly and some are even making plans to visit each other after the trip is over. True friendships are being made, all through their shared passion for wind and the ocean. Another day of amazing kiting followed by a fantastic dinner at Le Bistro with my favourite Frenchman Stephan. The consummate host, Stephan treats the women like royalty and they all love the evening.
Day four and everyone is in love with Cabarete. The women are settled into their routines and feeling more confident than ever about their improved kite skills. They’re all eager to see themselves on video this morning as seeing your improvements daily on video has now become an addiction as it usually becomes. The ultimate selfie. With a little lighter wind to begin the day, it is a perfect time to hold our advance kite flying lesson. This is a signature of Uncharted Kite Sessions kite camps, teaching you how to master your kite so that you can use 120% of the wind window, not just the top 20% by only doing top turns. In 12 knots I fly my 8m Slingshot Wave SST on the beach showing the ladies all that is possible with kite control. I teach them how to loop, luff recovery, intentional backstall to land, self landing and launching, pivots, and so much more. By the time the lesson is done all the women know how to control their kite with much better manipulation, and more importantly, they know how to be kite independent on the beach.
A quick snack and back to kiting now that the wind has filled in. Dinner at Eze Bar never disappoints. Set right on the beach under swaying palms, the chefs signature hand made pastas astound the taste buds. The low swinging dim lights illuminate only what they need and provide the perfect ambiance for our tired muscles. After dinner the women decide it’s time for dancing and overtake a local bar turning what was a boring night for the locals into a fantastic evening of drinking and dancing for all who attended. Nothing like having ten stunning kite women overtake your establishment to get everyone dancing. Those who made it out had a great night indeed.
Day five and even mother nature needs a day off. The forecast isn’t looking fantastic, so we make other plans. Many of the ladies go for a morning surf session down at the local spot Encuentro which is always pumping. Post surf a quick call to Tommy’s Ranch and we are all set for a day of horse back riding through the Dominican Jungle. A short drive to Sabaneta and we’re being briefed by Tommy about the adventure we’re about to undertake as we choose our trusty steeds for the day. Like true Dominicano, we take the trail less travelled and make our way up into the mountains to see the real Hispaniola. Riding through small little campos, we see the daily life of the average Dominican. Life is uncomplicated. After a long day in the saddle, and an amazing week of kite surfing, every person to the body is exhausted and satisfied. Our final evening we celebrate a successful week of kitesurfing and more with a brilliant dinner at the exquisite Bliss restaurant. Set under the stars we enjoy a luxurious dinner at my favourite restaurant in Cabarete. The girls reminisce about the fantastic week of kiting, and lifetime friendships are solidified over molten brownie desserts.
Over five days 8 women from Australia, America, The Virgin Islands, Germany and France descended on Cabarete to share their love for kiteboarding and the common bond of adventure on the high seas. They all improved their kiteboarding skills tremendously, as well as making lifelong connections. Join Uncharted Kite Sessions this year to improve your kite skills, and to have an adventure that you will remember for the rest of your life. Check out unchartedkitesessions.com and reserve your seat today.
Big thank you to:
Salt Slave Surf