Welsh kitesurfing is much better than Hawaii
With so much space and so many beautiful wild beaches, Wales beats Hawaii when you want to learn kitesurfing, says Kitesurf World Wave Champion Kirsty Jones. Seals, dolphins and friendly local kitesurfers only add to the appeal.
Space to spread your wings
Kitesurfer at Newgale, Pembrokeshire by The Big Blue Experience“I started kitesurfing quite late, when I was 21. I was already passionate about windsurfing and was training for the world tour [professional competition] when I tried kitesurfing in Hawaii. Actually, Hawaii wasn’t that great because it was so crowded and when I came home I discovered that my local beach, Newgale, was much better. It’s this long sandy beach which has far more space – with 20m lines attached to the kite, you need a lot of space to kitesurf.
“I loved the sport straight away. The great thing about learning to kitesurf is you get this instant adrenaline because when you hold the kite for the first time you can feel the power of the wind and kite. It’s a great first-time experience and also quite a fast learning curve compared to windsurfing or surfing because you can be up on a board within a few days. And you don’t need brute strength for kitesurfing – it’s all about technique and control.
Surfing with dolphins
Bottlenosed Dolphins by Nia Haf Jones“After the first couple of years, in 2003, I wanted to challenge myself and do something for charity that wasn’t competing, so I decided to kitesurf from Ireland to Wales. In the middle of the Irish Sea a big gannet flew over me, just a couple of metres from my head, then followed me like this little Welsh angel. And when I was five hours into the journey, almost coming into Broad Haven, the wind went very light and it became difficult to continue. Two dolphins came alongside me heading in the direction of Broad Haven as if to say ‘Keep going, keep going!’
“That nature and the scenery are part of what makes kitesurfing in Wales so special. I’ve always loved wilder beaches and Wales has so many – [that’s] also why I preferred kitesurfing and progressing at home in Wales to Hawaii. And you can’t beat kitesurfing with seals – you can go all over the world, but always somewhere in Wales a seal will pop up right next to you. It always makes me smile and laugh.
A great vibe
Kitesurfing at Broadhaven, Pembrokeshire
“My favourite places to kitesurf are the Pembrokeshire beaches of Freshwater West, Newgale and Abersoch. Llangennith in the Gower is amazing too. Apart from Fresh West, which can be dangerous because of currents and reefs, the experience of kitesurfing these places is open to everyone.
“There’s a really nice vibe about Welsh kitesurfing too. Welsh people are so friendly in the water – you’ll kitesurf there and meet people and feel like you’ve known them for ages because everyone is always so happy to help. Newcomers often come to kitesurf in Wales and think, ‘They must be doing this for a reason’, and I’m like, ‘No, we’re just really friendly.’”
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