There is something to be said about life next to the ocean. You don’t even have to be doing water activities or be explicitly dependent upon it in some way for it to have a profound effect. At the Extreme Hotel, everything you do is next to the ocean. You eat next to the ocean, sleep next to the ocean, trapeze next to the ocean, work out next to the ocean, read next to the ocean, talk on the phone next to the ocean. I could keep going – and those aren’t even the activities that you actually do in the ocean (i.e. kiteboard, surf, scuba, snorkel, stand up paddleboard, swim).
A lot of the time when I am doing something next to the ocean, I am highly aware of it. It is hard to ignore a beauty so strong, the scent of salt in the air and the feeling of the ocean breeze on your skin. However, even after just being here for over a week as an intern, it is easy to slip into routine and forget that the ordinary was once extraordinary not so long ago. That being said, the amazing thing about living next to the ocean is that it constantly provides perspective – whether or not the rhythm of its crashing waves has become background noise. Something so great, so loud and so vibrant as the ocean is constantly telling you that you are merely a single, tiny human in a much greater universe.
Don’t worry, it is not insulting. If anything, it’s humbling and inspiring. The ocean makes me feel small and unimportant. And once I feel small and unimportant, I start to take things less seriously. I think that I can try anything, do anything (maybe learn to kitesurf!) because in the end, I am just one small creature in this massive world.
The eXtreme Hotel attracts all kinds of visitors who want to enjoy Water Sports in Cabarete
Competitive Kiteboarding in Cabarete
I’ve been in Cabarete for a year and a half. Before I moved to the Dominican Republic, I had never heard of kiteboarding. The moment I saw it, I knew I would want to learn. I also knew that once I learned, I would want to be really good at it. I’m like that. My competitive nature (some call it ego) doesn’t let me be just ok at anything.
That being said, I swore I would never compete. First of all, I’m too old to just be hopping into a sport and competing (36 years old), especially one as extreme as kiting. It’s not like playing bingo, you see. It’s more like strap your waist to a 9meter kite and get ready to fly (literally) in winds that some would consider storm strength (20 knots). Secondly, my past life in the auto racing industry taught me that it is easy to ruin a hobby if you start taking it too seriously. Been there, done that.
In order to feed my competitive spirit/ego, I find myself secretly pitting myself against some of the local kiter chicks and have a daily competition with them in my own head. I know how long all of them have been kiting, I know all of their tricks—and I watch to see how often they actually land them. I calculate how much time I have been kiting, then I think about the tricks I know—how often I actually land them—and I compare statistics to theirs. Crazy, I know!
Anyhow, despite my efforts to control the beast within me, I have somehow agreed to enter my first competition this weekend in Puerto Plata. One of my secret rivalries asked if I would please enter (I think she must have spotted my weakness), and I found that I couldn’t turn down her “challenge.” Of course she didn’t really challenge me, rather just asked nicely. BUT, I can’t just NOT enter now that she has straight up asked me. That would make me look like a punk—and I ain’t no friggin’ punk.
Which brings us to the best part. I only know 2 tricks. Let me spell that out for you so you understand the gravity of the situation—TWO TRICKS. Those 2 tricks consist of a backroll and, you guessed it, a front roll. Don’t get me wrong; some of my rolls are pretty baller and on occasion I can pull off a cute little board grab in the process. Then again, a lot of them end in some sort of accidental kiteloop onto my back. Most of the local Dominican kiters would say that until I am unhooking, I don’t really know ANY tricks. You can probably guess that I choose to live by the macho Dominican standards…which means, I don’t know any tricks. The one time I tried to unhook, I “landed” my first ever unhooked railey to face-plant. I looked it up. Not a trick.
Now, here I am. Entering my first kite competition against my secret nemesis, and I don’t even know a single trick. So, wish me luck! The best thing I have going for me is I am the underdog and everyone always cheers for the underdog.
Article By Tracy Shayhorn
Women’s Kiteboarding in the Dominican Republic is growing! The other day I had the pleasure to sit down with the Lovely Nina. We’ve been lucky enough to have this Norwegian gem stay with us at Extreme numerous times over the years, and she always bring great energy and lots of friends! Two things that we love here at Extreme Hotel.
Nina has been on the kite boarding scene for some time now, so I thought it would be fun to see how she started this relatively new sport and how it has evolved over the years. As I said in my previous blog, this is a very male dominated sport, but if you’ve ever watched Nina out on the water you’ll know that she can outrun most young bucks.
Nina first discovered kite surfing when she was swallowing too much salt water battling the surf waves in Australia. She was traveling with her friend in Perth when caught site of some kites in the air. With some encouragement, Nina and her friend decided to give kite boarding a try. It wasn’t easy; back then equipment and teaching styles were much different: leashes were strapped around your wrist, there was no ‘de-power’ option, and no ‘donkey-dick’ (which prevents your bar from unhooking from your harness…very important).
It would be four years before Nina would start traveling and try kiting again. Her plan was to go to South America and do one month Spanish classes, one month of volunteer work and one month kite boarding – let’s just say that her Spanish stuck to “una más cerveza” but she learnt how to rip up the waves. The lovely Nina was officially hooked.
Over the past two years, Nina has traveled to Brazil, Cape Town South Africa, Tulum Mexico, Lisbon Portugal, Terifa Spain, Cartagena Columbia , Sicilian , Holland, isla margarita Venezuela , snow kiting in Norway and Cabarete Dominican Republic to kite board.
How did she find Cabarete? Well, this area has been a popular kitebarding location for epic kite boarding in the caribbean for many years. Checking up on kite boarding forums, this place was highly recommended. How did she find eXtreme hotel? After checking out other hotels on Kite Beach she explained that she stuck with eXtreme beacause “that’s the problem with kiting, when there’s no wind, you need something else to do. After seeing how many activities eXtreme had: yoga, trapeze, dance classes, crosffit, boxing, I thought it would be a fun place”. And that’s definitely something we take pride in here. GoKite is a great kite boarding school, but how about a little cross training every once and while?
We had a pretty big laugh while we considered how to explain to people the relationship kiters have with the wind. “ It’s like being in love with a guy you can’t have. You just have to wait. You sneak around his house to see if he’s around, but it’s never up to you. When he finally decides to call, he’ll totally blow your mind like and endless organism that could last for days”
That’s the tricky thing about kiting – when there’s wind, it would be bliss for days and days. But when there’s not, it’s a waiting game. You get tired of waiting beachside, but you’re too scared to leave in case it picks up and you miss out. That’s why having so many activities at eXtreme makes things convenient. You can stay occupied, while waiting for the orgasm.
But there’s more than just the wind that keeps Nina coming back. Cabrete has a great vibe. There are fantastic restaurants and great clubs where you can dance Bachata, Meringue, and Salsa. There are kiters, surfers, and circus artists everywhere, “a lot of six packs running around”. Plus, eXtreme tends to have a lot of familiar faces coming back. Making friends with locals, guests and eXtreme staff, it becomes a family that you want to return to. Nina mentioned that seeing locals and tourists mingle as much as they do in Cabarete is not something you see very often. “I guess that’s why I think this place is so special, it’s a friendly destination. “
So I asked Nina what we can expect from the sport these coming years, “more girls will start kiting!”
Nina makes a very good point that most girls are scared to start because they think they need to be really strong. In reality, people of all sizes, ages and strength levels can kite. You’re not holding on to the kite with your arms, you’re steering the kite with your arms. The kite itself is attached you your harness around you waist. “People are scared to take control of the kite – but it gives you good abs” …nuff said.
In the end it’s all about having fun and wearing cute bikinis.
I would like to thank my good friend Nina for this wonderful interview. It was great fun hanging out at Chichigua and laughing over the good times we’ve had in Cabarete.
Please feel free to comment or ask any questions to Nina – she’ll be staying with us for a few more weeks.
Until next time,
I first discovered kite surfing when I was traveling through the Thai Islands. My friend and I had just arrived to Koh Sumai after too many hours of traveling and were completely ready to pass out. Because our room wasn’t clean yet, we decided that passing out on the beach was the best idea. It was only 6am, so it was still cool and comfortable, and honestly, at this point in time I would have laid down horizontally anywhere.
A few hours later, I slowly woke up to see bright colors thrashing around in the sky. Like aliens from outer space, their movements confused my brain. After sleeping like an Ostridge, I shook the sand out of my head and took a good look at what was going on. I don’t know about you, but the first time I saw kite surfing I thought… “I…have…to…do…this..!!” there might have been some drool involved too. So what is kite boarding you ask?
“Kitesurfing or kiteboarding is a surface water sport combining aspects of wakeboarding, windsurfing, surfing, paragliding, and gymnastics into one extreme sport. A kitesurfer or kiteboarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kiteboard similar to a wakeboard or a small surfboard, with or without foot-straps or bindings” Thank you Wikipedia
My friend and I spent the rest of short stay at Koh Sumai going from restaurant to restaurant testing Pad Thais while watching the kiters glide on the water. Between the crystal water, the bright sun and colorful kites, it was a waltz that I needed to learn. It would be a year and half later before I would have my chance.
I first came eXtreme two years ago on Christmas vacation with my boyfriend. We first started our search for a kiting location by looking at the Caribbean as a whole, slowly we narrowed down to the DR and then kite beach. We finally decided to stay at eXtreme because of a few reasons:
- The kite package was a total bargain, especially for some broke-ass students like us.
- They offered other classes as well – yoga, crossfit, trapeze, and access to a really cool gym.
- The atmosphere seemed to suit us as well. We ended up meeting lots of chill people from all over the world. We would go out for dinner together and hang out after kiting.
It took me a few days to get up kiting, but when I did it was as magical as I had expected. Just think about it, you’re being pulled over the water by a massive kite that’s 7-15 meters wide and 30 meters up in the air. The physics of kiting is mindboggling enough, let alone the endless possibility of tricks and flips that one can throw while being carted across the ocean by your own personal energy source.
My feelings while I’m kiting are always a combination of scared-shitless and happier-than-the-first-time-I saw-Britney-Spears-live. I’m not going to lie, learning how to kite is challenging, sometimes frustrating -and you do drink a lot of salt water while doing it. But the payoff is totally worth it. When I learnt with GoKite, the kite school at eXtreme, I felt safe not only because all the instructors are IKO certified, but also because they seem to have an intuition or a sixth sense about our location. They knew when to call me in before a freak storm came, how and where to rotate my kite to get the most power and knew before anyone else if the wind was going to drop.
I’m still learning how to kite at Kite Beach, but it’s nice to be a girl in male dominated sport. Next time, Ill be interviewing my good friend Nina on how she started to kite. Being a relatively new sport, a lot has changed in 10 years. We’ll chat with Nina about learning how to kite back in Australia before they even had a “depower” options.
Until next time,