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Extract from Men’s Journal: Adventure Life
Featuring: Surf Zone’s: Rod Smith
MJ EXPEDITION Scouting the wild shores and trails of Cape Verde With its volcanic mountains, powerful winds, and white sand beaches, this rugged archipelago 285 miles off the coast of West Africa could be the next multisport paradise. By Tom Downey
Article by: Tom Downey
……………….My final stop is the up-and-coming town of Santa Maria on the island of Sal. Popular with intrepid Italian and Spanish sun-seekers, Sal also has powerful winds and heavy wave breaks that make it a premier surfing, windsurfing, and kiteboarding destination. On my first day I wander down to the beach and find Rod Smith, 39, an Arizonan who has lived here since 2002. Smith suggests we pile some sailboards into his Land Rover and take off for a remote break. He says he hasn’t been to America in 20 years. First surfing, then windsurfing, now kiteboarding all over Europe and Central America, Smith finally settled here in Sal because “it’s got the best winds and waves in the world, all year long.” Smith says the only other American to have settled in Sal is his friend Josh Angulo, a former windsurfing champion from the North Shore of Oahu who married a Cape Verdean woman and has a surf shop in town. We power through a half mile of sand on our way to Ponta Preta, Sal’s most famous break, which often tops 15 feet. It’s late afternoon when we arrive, though, and the ocean is calm. I glide back and forth around the deserted point practicing jibes with Smith and Djo Silva, the best local windsurfer on the island, acting as my wingmen. After a couple of hours we all head back toward the truck and stand looking out to sea, mesmerized by the sunset. I ask Smith if he’s explored the rest of Cape Verde. “Once I kiteboarded to Boa Vista and back,” he says. “But normally I don’t leave Sal. I’ve got everything I need right here.” On my last morning I hit the beach for an early jog. A full moon and the rising sun share the horizon. As my feet pound the sand, I weigh who has Cape Verde dialed most perfectly. Guy is likely watching this same sunrise from his hammock in Sal, Eduardo is waking up to the rocky red cliffs of remote Ponta do Sol, Rod is enjoying the lonely breaks of Ponta Preta. Each of these men has managed to snag a piece of paradise where he can live his passion on his own terms. …………………..
SAL Rent kiteboards and windsurfing gear from Rod Smith’s center in Santa Maria (www.surfcaboverde.com). It’s located on the beach at the relaxed but elegant Hotel Morabeza (from $105; hotelmorabeza.com)
Article for Kite World Magazine: A view on Sal
From all the countries I have lived, Cape Verde fits the saying “paradise where you can forget all your troubles”. Although geographically located close to Europe, main land Africa and Brazil, its location in the middle of a vast ocean, its climate, and its people, seduces you to forget all that is beyond the boundaries of the island.
Rarely is there a day where you wake up without the company of the sun and a breeze that makes the heat more comfortable than intolerable. You are never more than 5min from the ocean and therefore feel enveloped by the beauty of the water, constantly. It’s constant presence allow you to feel in touch with nature and ease the stresses that comes with living in concrete jungles, now associated with developed nations. Although every where you turn there is construction and the influx of new investment, the glorious beaches, the ocean, and the occasional sight of whales, dolphins, and turtles, allows you to quickly forget the mortar.
Complimenting this scenic environment are the people. Cape Verde, although lackadaisical to a certain extent, show a love for life that is contagious. There is laughter to be heard and an ease that gives of a sense that they have morphed with their island and are at ease with the life that comes with living on an island. They are a talented population excelling in languages, water sports, fishing and partying. The music of Cabo Verde, seeps into your soul and fills you with this tremendous excitement for life, the island, and all that it offers your senses. It is difficult to put words to the feeling I get every time I here their music, watch the locals and tourists flirt with the beach, toy with the water, play volleyball on the beach or kite/wind surf across the ocean.
I can not help but smile at the ease in which cape verdians move through life, amidst the obstacles that confront them. Although each island is different, each offering something different, there is this common spirit that connects them to each other and to their country. The saying “No Stress”, is not just a saying here it is a way of life.
The shimmering reflections of the ocean are enticing to all those who love to play in the water. Weather it is wind surfing, kite surfing, or surfing, the island of Sal has something to offer every surfer off every level. It is heaven on water.
I have been very impressed how the cape verdian surfers I have worked with will share all their equipment and personal items with other surfers. There is a comradely here that is commendable and almost surprising given the cost of equipment here.
Lastly and most important there is KITE SURFING, WIND SURFING AND SURFING. It does not get better than this. There is the Bay of Santa Maria for those just embarking on their journey to learn and conquer the sport. The bay area, allows for safe learning and long runs on your wind or kite surf board. With slight off-shore winds at the top of the bay (where we are located) and slight on shore waves at the end of the bay, ending up in Brazil is not an option. Then there is the infamous kite beach. Side on-shore winds and waves that range from small to challenging, it is great for intermediate and advanced kite surfers as well as wind surfers. However, just when you think it can’t get better than this, a swell comes in and there is Punta Preta. With world class waves and winds to match, this is the ultimate thrill for advanced surfers from all three of the surfing categories (kite, wind and surf). It doesn’t get better than this! Watch out for the boys from Surf Zone at Punta Preta. These cape verdian surfers will awe even the most advanced surfers in the world, with the confidence and gusto with which they ride these waves (kite, wind or surf)
Then there is the surf. At either end of the bay, waves arrive at all heights and strength, impressing even the most experienced of surfers. There are also a number of spots on the island that provide surfing heaven on earth for all those who dare.
For the avid surfer, Sal is unforgettable and very much repeatable.
Article for Gusty Kitesurfing Web Site.
Cape Verde is quickly becoming synomonous with the term Kite Surfing. It is a hidden jewel in the middle of a vast ocean. Having lived on the island of Sal for 6 years I can confidently attest to its greatness as a kite destination. Where else in the world can you arrive at an airport and travel only 20min to your hotel and then only another 10min to one of 4 kite spots. Not many by my reckoning.
I learnt to kite surf here and will freely admit that it was challanging. There is no lagoon, no shallow water and no where that is always completely flat. However, by the time I was up and riding I felt confident that I could kite surf anywhere in the world. Once I was up, I worried that I would soon become bored and have to find a new challenge. However 6 years down the road, the opportunities for challenge are boundless.
Sal has 4 main kite locations all within a 10-20min range. Each spot offers something completely different. There is the Bay Santa Maria. Here the wind is often side off (though it can change to off, on, or side) and fairly flat. It is a great place for long runs. There are no rocks, no reefs, but you may bump into a turtle, some dolphins and on occasion even a whale. Further up the Bay is Lembje beach. To enter here is a little difficult as there are some rocks. However once you are out, it is great sailing. The inside of the Bay is flat, whereas the outside often offers a lovely swell. When the waves do come in here, they are some of the nicest on the island.
On the west coast there is the beach in front of the Riu hotel. Here the wind is more off shore and is brillaint for speed sailing and free style. It is also 500meters from the world famous wave spot Punta Preta. Punta Preta, when it is working, offers an orchestra of both large and powerfull waves. The wave can reach up to 6 meters high, with a beach break to match. Across the island from this spot on the east coast is Kite Beach. Kite beach has a reef, on shore winds, and waves for those yearning to jump and play in waves without fear.
To top it all off, we have yet to reach the point of saturation. There is space to play, space to ride, space to jump. When you are not on the water, the Island is governed by the local motto of NO STRESS. Cape Verdians are friendly and easy to spend time with. There is little to no rain and there is more than enough sun to satify those accompaining the obsessed kiter. There are no major tourist sites, which makes for a stress-guilt free holiday of either lying in the sun or being out on the water.
No Rain. No Snow. No Stress!