Go Kite Cabarete
Richard, the owner of GoKite Cabarete, tells me there is enough wind for me to go out. It’s only just started to pick up and it looks like I’ll have the whole ocean all to myself. Today seems like a good day to learn how to kite with a surfboard. The beach break is small but the reef on Kite Beach has some baby waves that would be good for a beginner, he tells me as we walk back to the gear room.
I point to a slick, small board. He smiles as he shakes his head.
“That board is too small for a beginner, it’ll be very slippery. Take this one instead,” he hands me a slightly bigger one. “The size and shape of this board will make it more stable so you can practice and get the hang of it. You’ll be ready for the other one in no time.”
I’m usually a take-the-bull-by-the-horns kind of person but kiteboarding has taught me patience and Richard has been kiting for over 10 years, since 2002, so I take his word for it, grab the board and head out to face my new kiteboarding challenge.
The boys at GoKite Cabarete have been cleaning up the beach, setting up the equipment, and repairing kites all morning. Richard’s commitment to them is obvious: from the amount of time he invests in training them, to making sure that the team stays entirely local except when high season demands overwhelm the local supply of instructors—and it’s one of the reasons why I love hanging around there. I grab an instructor who is free and he carries my board to the edge of the water, gives me some advice, and sends me off to this new adventure. The board rides like a dream, cutting upwind has never been so easy. Turning around—not so much. As I sit in the water awkwardly trying to flip the board in the other direction, I am reassured by the distant dot of my supervisor standing on the beach; he is there watching out for me.
When I return to the shore, my supervisor/biggest fan gives me a high five and tells me that I’m doing great. He gives me some pointers to help as I try to learn how to turn without getting off the board, walks me up the beach, and sends me back into the deep blue.
My assistant instructor is, like many of the instructors who work at GoKite, a result of Richard’s decade-long mission to teach local boys how to kite and provide them a way to earn a living. Some go on to teach at other schools or work independently but many stay to work for him at what was, for a long time, the only Dominican-owned and run school on Kite Beach.
GoKite Cabarete has been a part of my kiteboarding experience since I first started to kiteboard in 2013. Although I learned how to kite in the bay of Cabarete, my first forays into Kite Beach were closely supervised by Richard and his boys. When I decided to make it my home kiting spot, they were there to offer support, repairs, tips on how to learn advanced tricks, and gear for when I wanted to learn something new.
After an hour I am tired of sitting down in order to switch directions. “I’m going to try a jibe!”
My instructor flashes me a 100-watt smile, “go for it!” He gives me some more pointers and off I go. After twenty minutes of trying and failing, I come out of the water feeling dejected, but the same 100-watt smile greets me and suddenly I don’t feel so bad after all. He explains to me that jibes are very difficult and reminds me of a few close tries where I almost had it.
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