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Monday, 24 March 2014

PKRA WORLD TOUR - DAKHLA MOROCCO 2014

A few weeks ago I had a phone call asking if I'd like to visit the PKRA in Dakhla Morocco, we chatted for a while and it turned out I was being offered a all expenses trip to report on both the PKRA event but also in general about Morocco and in particular this kitesurfing heaven!
I pondered for a while whether I had space in my hectic schedule, no I didn't - I immediately screamed YES PLEASE!
I have been lucky enough to have visited Dakhla twice before, running group trips way back when it was just tents, electric only for evening meal time (in the big tent) no wifi and no booze (it was Ramadan)!!

Things have changed!

I flew out with Air Moroc from Heathrow and had a stop over in Casablanca where I was met by Farouk..a softly spoken, and very pleasant Moroccan from Rabat (the Capital) Farouk took me on a whirlwind tour of Casablanca including the very impressive Hassan II Mosque 
The Hassan ll Mosque is the largest in the country and the 7th largest in the world.


 


I was staying the week at the beautiful Ocean Vagabond village situated at the extreme far north end of the vast lagoon. To say was shocked by how things had changed and advanced since my last visit 7 years ago would be an understatement. Both here and in Dakhla Attitude the simple tents lit only by candle lights at night have been replaced with cute little eco bungalows set on the edge of the lagoon, most have very impressive sea view and all the mod cons.
 
 My little house by the sea!

My first day was also the official opening ceremony for the PKRA World Tour, a chance for all the competitors who have travelled from across the globe to this isolated but windy piece of heaven to catch up with each other. The venue for this major world comp is set in the most spectacular landscapes you will ever see...baron maybe but spectacular none the less!
Competitors line up to greet the dignitaries from the nearby city of Dakhla

I met up with the British competitors...Wave riding - Lee "pasty" Harvey, Danny Morrice and Kirsty Jones and the lone Freestyle Brit Aaron Hadlow

The first day of competition kicked off with the Moroccan trials for selection through to the main event, this was extremely competitive too with the "locals" throwing down all the big moves required at this top level in the sport.
The impressive judging tower in the lagoon!
I spent the rest of the day engrossed in the sights of such a huge event set in such an awesome spot, I wondered up on top of the nearby ridge which gives you a super panoramic view of the whole vast tidal lagoon.

No matter how many people are on the water here there is always plenty of space to be found!
 And if there is NO wind Dakhla Attitude now has it's very own cable park complete with kickers/sliders.

The next day was scheduled to be the first day of the wave event, a meeting was held at 10am and it looked pretty shaky if anything was going to happen. Fortunately Lee "pasty" was gunning as usual for the comp to go NOW! So eventually after much deliberation it was agreed to head for the wave spot near too Dakhla city and at least try. 

It was a good call!

The waves were maybe not the biggest but they were a nice clean smackable right hander peeling along down the point with a decent cross shore breeze helping maters.
Straight off it was pretty obvious that the standard was going to be so high...way higher than any previous events with so many people capable of going the whole way.

It was great to see both Lee and Danny doing the UK proud and progressing through there early heats, even against such strong competition.
Lee & Danny 
These guys have had to sacrifice so much to travel to contests like this....sponsors are simply not throwing money at the regular guys on the circuit. Most have to work extra shifts at work and scrimp and save towards funding themselves to get here.
 
Lee "pasty" Harvey UK flying the Cornish Flag!
 
The official PKRA Wave Video from the Event

Over the next few days and I was chaperoned around (with others from Portugal/Brazil/France etc) to various places of interest including a visit to a Oyster farm, luckily enough at lunch time! Talk about FRESH, these were direct from the sea in front of the restaurant. 
 The oysters here are reportedly the best in Morocco!

Next stop was the large green houses you pass when on the way to the lagoon from the airport, all 66 hectares of them. If you add the other greenhouses a few miles away they total some 600 hectares!! 
Here they grow Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Melons of which 95% of the production from here is exported to Europe and USA  

 

There is another farm nearby where they grow errm Ostrich for the market of North Morocco and Mauritania.

Whilst we were in Dakhla we were lucky enough to attend the opening of a new Golf Club, with an eco friendly desert style course. It has long way to go but it shows the areas commitment to attracting new markets of tourism.

  
 Bab Bal Bahar Golf Club - Dakhla



So after this it was back to the comp and it was really hotting up and getting pretty exciting to watch, there were the usual guys you'd expect to see ripping but quite a few other not so familiar faces were fighting there way through the rounds too. 

It was always looking likely to be Mitu, Keahi, Airton etc but also Pedro Enrique from Brazil was killing it with his back side onslaught. Pedro was once World Junior Surf Champion and I know his dream is to become World Kitesurf Champ aslo...it's looking pretty promising so far for Pedro.

Keahi took out Mitu in the semi's possibly one of the best heats of the whole comp with probably the best waves too, Mitu had one wave with two cover ups and it still wasn't enough, which left Pedro and Keahi to battle it out in the final and boy was it a battle. Wave for wave they exchanged move for move. Keahi with his super smooth effortless collection of ways to smash a wave and Pedro with his quite unique vertical back hadhand attacks. In the end Keahi was to finish top of the podium but it really was close for all the top guys from the quarters onwards.
 The Mens podium. 
1st Keahi 2nd Pedro 3rd Mitu
In the ladies there were a few stand outs early on and Moona Whyte from Hawaii was very much the one to beat, other notable performers were Milla Knesse and Jalou Langaree and our very own Kirsty Jones who is now based in Dakhla. 
In the end it was still to be Moona's smooth carving moves that would win the day with Kirsty in a very close second place and Jalou third.
Kirtsy Jones UK
 The Ladies podium.
1st Moona 2nd Kisrty 3rd Jalou

Sadly immediately after the presentation of the wave event I had to head off to the airport to fly home this meant I would miss the entire Freestyle event, however with the modern world I was able to watch plenty of the heats once home on the tinterweb!

 

The video of the Mens Freestye Finals


Mens - 1st Jacobs 2nd Tack 3rd Neto
Ladies - 1st Gisela 2nd Karolina 3rd Bruna

Ladies Final



So, I was there just under a week and I didn't even get the chance to kite....that's a first!! 
Would I recommend Dakhla to others.. of course I would!! 

Dakhla is moving with the times, it has all the luxuries we now demand...well most of them. Each "camp" around the lagoon offers everything the modern kitesurfer could wish for. Comfortable clean accommodation, good food, wifi, downwind trips to spots like White Dune and of course the wave spots. Or alternatively you could stay in one of the 4 star hotels in Dakhla such as Bab Al Bahar

We will be looking into running trips back to Dakhla in the near future.....watch this space!

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to email us at: info@blastkiteboarding.co.uk

Links 

Monday, 6 January 2014

2013 What a Year!!!

Not got around to doing a summing up of the year 2013....till now and quite simply I do not know where to start.

It perhaps wasn't the best start, both Sarah and I started 2013 on crutches...but hey it could only get better hey?
It did give me the chance to take a heap of photo's of the boys out kitesurfing last winter and also visiting pro Lee Pasty Harvey when he ripped the arse of some of our local spots.
 Thankfully my ankle got fixed up pretty quick, I'm so lucky I do seem to heal quickly.
S.Wales Powder Day
It was just as well as the season never really stopped for winter, the snow dumped big time in the Brecon Beacons, I still had my leg in a cast but that wasn't going to stop me, it's not every day we get powder!!
Snow Kiting in S.Wales


...we then had a photo shoot for the AA 
 
 Click here for the video they used:  


I had my first trip to Cape Verde Islands when me and Wayne did a last minute trip to Boa Vista, unfortunately we didnt score
any classic conditions but we did get our warm water/sunshine fix!
February also saw us score some awesome conditions for the BLAST FROZEN JAM here in Porthcawl, we had a huge turn out of uber keen kitesurfers..you'd have to be just to think of driving across the country in the depths of February huh?
  
The Blast Frozen Jam
We got our new van earlier in the year also and set about transforming her into a right proper Blast Bus 
In May we ran our first group holiday to Hatteras in the USA.....what a place for a kitesurf holiday!

 The Hatteras Trip!
 Not everyday you get to jump over Dimitri Maremanandes 
When we got back from Hatteras the summer season of lessons was in full flow and once again we had some amazing students..many of which have become great friends.
It wasn't long till our next trip to our old favourite PORTUGAL, this was possibly the best trip we have ever had there, great group, great villa in a great spot and fantastic conditions...wind every day!
We did our first presentation with a school, quite possibly the best thing we did all year with an amazing response from the children!
The kids simply could not believe the size of the kites!
The winds during the summer were a bit pants to be honest but it did give us the chance to get out on the SUP's and also we spent a few days on the Cable..a first for us but I'm sure we will be doing a lot more of this in the future
 Cable Park WAkeboarding 
SUP
During the summer we did manage a few weekends away in the Blast Bus...one up in N.Wales which we had excellent winds and surf! 
The other weekend we had away was at the National Watersports Festival. A great chance for us to catch up with so many good friends in this crazy industry.
 
Soon enough the autumn was approaching which also meant that the BKSA National Wavemasters championships up in Tiree were fast approaching, we only decided to go at the last minute, when we saw the conditions they were expecting...quite simply it was EPIC!
 
I was lucky enough to defend the Senior Title I'd won the year before so becoming 2 x British Champion...pretty stoked!! 
The autumn really kicked in then with the beaches becoming quieter and the lessons dying off it aloud us to kite more sessions on our own once again!
Unfortunately during the SKA Beginners weekend which we were teaching at, I pulled a muscle in my calf. No big deal I thought until my next session when it pulled some more, this time with excruciating pain, this happened one more time and then I couldn't even walk. I'd torn the muscle off my calf...badly apparently! Oh and only two weeks before the biggest trip of 2013....Brazil
 Two weeks of intensive physio followed. 
We also had the Lee Pasty Wave Clinic...which was brilliant for two reasons ............
A/. Lee did a brilliant job and every one learnt so much
B/. The storm that hit S.Wales was amazing!!
This was just the start of many crazy storms to hit the west coast of the UK


Brazil...I wasn't sure how my leg would hold up as I'd been told it would normally be two months before I should be exercising the muscle, I need not have worried.
The trip to Brazil was amazing as ever...Hot, Windy, Warm water and great company! The video gives just a small taster of what it was like (kind of)
The end of the year saw more of the storms like we had during Pasty's Wave clinic
So....how are we going to better 2013?
Just watch this space!!