Postcard from Mexico #4 : “WIND, WIND, WIND!”
The last couple of weeks in Cozumel has seen consistent and awesome conditions! We are now at our 12th day filled with great wind, with more on the way. Every kiteboarder, REAL camper, and coach is getting their fill with the perfect weather we have been getting for the last couple of weeks! We have been kiting like crazy every day and at all the good spots on the island. Our favorites, The Lagoon, The Country Club beach and the Wave Ranch have been receiving lots of REAL visitors lately ….
We spend every day of the REAL Cozumel kite camp at the Lagoon. It is a great environment to learn with shallows near the sandbars and flat water all on the inside. The Lagoon is located on the North end of the island. It is convenient for all of our REAL campers staying at the Country Club. It only takes a 15 minute drive, followed by a short boat ride to access the kiting spot. There is a super flat section next to the sand point were we set up our kites. It is the perfect spot to throw tricks for the peanut gallery. REAL Coaches Adam Mitchell and Andy Gassner have been showing off their Indy grab skills during our lunch break!
“Thanks for making my week in Cozumel the most successful introduction to any new sport I’ve attempted. In the past I’ve had a bad habit of trying to learn new sports on my own which ends up taking much longer and creates many bad habits. REAL’s well thought-out presentation and top notch instructors allowed me to learn everything I needed in a very short time. Cozumel provided excellent winds for us every day at The Lagoon, the food and accommodations were excellent, even though hurricane Wilma had visited only 3 months prior to our visit. The REAL Crew catered to our every desire. We will definitely recommend REAL and Cozumel to any of our friands considérer kiteboarding. Looking forward to riding with you again soon!” – Stephen Ford, REAL Cozumel Camper
COUNTRY CLUB BEACH
The Country Club beach is the most convenient riding spot in Cozumel when the wind blows from the North. It is right in our backyard which makes it very easy to get a session in. Every morning we walk to the beach to see what the wind is doing and from there, decide our kiting plan for the day. It is so easy to just walk to our kiting spot instead of organizing any transportation! The water is generally calm with a wide strip of turquoise water that makes the place beautiful. Staying at the Country Club is definitely the best choice!
“REAL Cozumel Kite Camp was amazing!! The wind was always cranking and the water was beautiful and warm! Every morning I was stoked to see the “REAL” flag, just outside my room, going off! The REAL coaches were all very knowledgeable and down to earth! I had some great rides and nailed some basic skills, thanks to all the great instruction. My confidence is way up… ready to try it on my own ! Best moment of camp was riding my new Jimmy Lewis 137 cm Custom board. Sweet, sweet board to say the least! We stayed at the “Casa Viento” in the Country Club. It was so convenient/central and a really fun place to hang out! Thanks Nicole and Lisa…you girls were really fun!” – Linda Gardner, REAL Kiteboarding Camper
THE WAVE RANCH
With any Easterly wind, the Wave Ranch is a favorite for play time in the waves. It is a great spot to learn kiteboarding in the ocean, with little kickers slowly growing into a nice Atlantic swell in the outside. The Wave Ranch is also a favorite for its wide, long and white sandy beach. Recently, we had a really powered session on 7m kites, with the strongest Southeast wind we ever encountered at the Wave Ranch! This wind direction is loved because it allows us to surf the waves on our strong side and carve some powerful turns!
“That day at the Wave Ranch was epic. The biggest I have ever seen in Cozumel. Reminded me of a Northeast in Hatteras. Double overhead peaks on the outside and cranked on a 7m. The Wave Ranch is such a good spot because you can get a big day like that, but the beach is protected so you don’t have to worry about beach break taking you out. There are waist to shoulder high sets on the inside and bombs further out. You can choose how much trouble you want to get in to.” – Andy Gassner, REAL Cozumel Head Coach
Postcard #3 : “EL NORTE”
Super Juice on Cozumel!! A cold front swept the island and brought us the local “El Norte”! This powerful wind is usually blowing around 20 to 25 kts, allowing us to ride litt on our smallest kites! We were expecting this front for a couple days, the easterly trade wind started to switch toward the north and the temperature dropped giving us a clue that it was time to get ready. It finally came in Thursday night, after the second margarita at “La Choza”. The breeze filled our REAL Cozumel Campers dinner with excitement about the upcoming morning session. At the Country Club, the REAL Kiteboarding flag was going crazy over “Casa Viento”, just confirming our anticipation…
“The Spanish word for the North, “El Norte”, refers to the winds that blows from cold fronts that move over Cozumel from September to May. It is a true blessing for all wind worshipers, from sailers to kiteboarders. “El Norte” is usually preceded by a “Suestazo” an awesome South-East wind that allows us to kite the East side of the island.” – Raul DeLille, REAL Kiteboarding Coach
In the morning, first on the water, REAL Camper Carl Bengtsson had the last and most powered session of his trip in Cozumel. We saw him leaving for the airport with salty red eyes and a huge smile… Carl, we hope you didn’t have trouble at the border! The rest of the REAL Crew went to the Lagoon for the day. It is the best spot to kite the “El Norte”, with perfect little kickers and flat water next to the sand bar. The guys were riding litt on 7m and 9m while REAL Campers Dan and Evan O’Connell, were learning powered on a Wipika 3m!! Everybody was really stoked about their day. Come again soon “El Norte”!!
The days following “El Norte” are usually sunny and hold a good breeze. Kiteboarding is at it’s best in this paradise, with the amazing crystal blue water shining under the Caribbean sun. The wind direction was perfect to ride at the Country Club beach. It is so nice to kite right in our backyard! The local Cozumel crew showed up so we got to talk with them about our epic sessions from the day before. The local kiteboarders are really friendly, like most locals of the island. Our boat captain Alberto also visited us in the afternoon. REAL Kiteboarding Coach Ed Holden took time to give him a little kite lesson. After hanging out with us for two seasons, Alberto was really stoked and talented with the trainer kite!
By the beginning of the following week, the effects from the front were gone and by Tuesday, the Easterlies trade winds started to kick in again. From the West side of Cozumel, it is always hard to tell what the wind is really doing on the East side. We decided to cross the island hoping to get a session. “Chen Rio” beach. Upon arrival we were stoked to find some great conditions with side onshore breeze. We rode all morning on the deep blue ocean, surfing and carving on perfect chest to head high waves. Those surprise sessions are always the best!!!
“For all those interested in wave riding, Chen Rio is an amazing place. Every time it has blown easterly, I have found myself on my surfboard at “Chen Rio” riding the long workable waves. It offers up clean waist high kickers on the inside while overhead sets rolling in on the outside. All in front of a beautifully soft sand beach! “Chen Rio” is just another one of the premier riding spots on Cozumel Island.” – Adam Mitchell, REAL Kiteboarding coach
Postcard #2 : CHRISTMAS WEEK
We took our time during Christmas week to discover the beautiful island of Cozumel. The wind has been mostly larger kites this week, allowing us some great kitesurfing sessions and also time to enjoy different local activities. Cozumel is an amazing destination for couples and family travel, the kiting spots are awesome of course, but there is other exciting attractions to highlight everyone’s vacation. The island, 28 miles long by 10 miles wide, is surrounded with golden beaches, turquoise water and coral reefs making it a paradise for water sports like snorkeling, diving, kayaking, fishing, sailing, and sunbathing… Local attractions also include ancient Mayan ruins, a Jack Nicklaus Design 18 hole golf course, cultural festivals, duty-free stores and tons of great restaurants. We have been indulging in many of these activities during our Christmas week.
KITESURFING “ChenRio”, December 23rd
We started the week with a couple great kitesurfing sessions, Adam Mitchell and Andy Gassner have been killing it with their surfboards on the East side of the island. “I have been riding only my new surfboard lately. The conditions are awesome for it! Riding on perfect turquoise waves, especially at Chen Rio or Playa Bonita, is a lot of fun!” Adam Mitchell, REAL Kiteboarding Coach
BONEFISHING at the Lagoon, December 24th
We discovered the secrets spots of the lagoons during Christmas Eve day through an incredible fly fishing journey. Bonefish! Bonefish! Captains Nacho and Alberto pointed our preys and kept us alert as we tackled the bonefish until our reeling muscles were exhausted. We caught so many of them, it was incredible ! Ed, the lucky beginner, caught the first bonefish of the day!
“When I am not on the water riding in Cozumel, my favorite place to be is bonefishing. I had to start with the fundamentals of salt water fly fishing by learning the correct casting techniques from our professional and highly qualified instructors, Nacho and Alberto. We are so lucky to have them as captains. I have never had so much fun fishing, bonefish fight hard and are extremely challenging to catch.” – Andy Gassner, REAL Kiteboarding Coach.
CHRISTMAS, December 25th
We spent our Christmas night with the REAL Crew together at the coaches house. The setup was way different from our usual snowy Christmas, but the family ambience was definitely there. We all put a hand to make the night special. Aimee decorated the palm tree with lights and ornaments, Andy baked a tasty turkey , Stan mixed a great Bulgarian salad, Adam bought the desert and finally Ed, our nightlife man, obviously set up the cocktail bar!
“REAL Family Christmas in Mexico… We exchanged gifts under our Christmas palm tree, had our meal next to the swimming pool and slept in hammocks under the stars… Feliz Navidad!” – Aimee Raby, REAL Kiteboarding Coach
RUINS San Gervasio, December 28th
After seeing the entrance to San Gervasio’s ruins many times on our way to the eastern kiting spots, we finally decided to give it a try. We miraculously made it through the Mexican road in our overloaded “Suzy-Suzuki”. The trip to these Mayan Temples was a great cultural visit. The iguanas that guard them seem to protect a mysterious history…
“Visiting the Mayan Ruins is a must. The buildings are crudely made but hold a rich history. It takes about 1 hour to walk around all the different sites. Wear sneakers, bring some water and a camera to enjoy the tour. We had a lot of fun managing to build our own human pyramid!” Ed Holden- REAL Kiteboarding coach
SNORKELING, December 29th
With its spectacular reef formations and crystal clear water, Cozumel is one of the best diving and snorkeling destinations in the world. More than 80,000 divers a year enjoy the exceptional reef and water quality with a visibility up to 200 feet! We planned a snorkeling excursion to the northern lighthouse and everybody discovered with excitement this amazing resource that Cozumel has to offer.
“Light wind days are anything but boring with the REAL team. Their knowledge about the island allowed them to identify a prime spot to snorkel from their boat. I have never been a big diver but it was great fun to snorkel in the warm, crystal blue water of Cozumel where we saw turtles, barracuda and explored a sunken ship!” Kathy Sutherland, REAL Cozumel camper
KITEBOARDING at “Playa Bonita”, December 30th
With no frontal systems around Cozumel, we headed for a day of kiting on the east side, under the charm of the steady trade-winds. We rode the whole day, discovering the beauty of “Playa Bonita”. This long sandy cove offered an amazing day for everyone, students, beginners and advanced, friends, coaches and the Mexican peanut gallery! The sun was shinning on the white beaches and crystal water, giving our paradise a sparkly twist and giving us a nice tan with red eyes. So much time on the water!!! Our REAL Camper Carl had kited more than everybody loving his brand new Slingshot Machine, nice work!
“As an intermediate kiteboarder, differences between types of kites are not always apparent to me. However the Slingshot Machine, definitely stands out. Weighting 220 lbs, the Machine let me ride in previously un-rideable conditions, along with light bar pressure and relative fast turning! Also, the REAL Coaches were very helpful in providing me with good advice regarding my gear.” Carl-Henrik Bengtsson, REAL Cozumel camper
NEW YEAR PLAYA DEL CARMEN December 31st
New Years party in Mexico! We celebrated 2006 on the mainland. We took a nice cruise on the ferry to discover the night life of Playa del Carmen. The main street, filled with great restaurants, stylish lounges and night clubs, we met tons of people who were ready to party until the sunset. Our favorite was the Blue Parrot Club with DJ’s and a fire show on the beach ! When we asked our REAL Kiteboarding Coach Stan Radev about his night, he answered: “Oh my God! The two things I remember most are lots of girls and … margaritas!!!” Buena nueva ano!
Postcard #1 : THE FIRST CAMP
The Winter Cozumel season has officially begun with the first REAL Kite Camp completed! The conditions have been incredible! The students and the coaches are stoked with such a perfect start. It feels good to be back here, to have a break of winter and to kite again!
For the first camp, all of our students stayed at the REAL Estate Apartments which made it extremely convenient. We had our morning “Meet and Greet” under the palapa with a good breakfast. The crew for the first camp was REAL Coaches Raul DeLille, Ed Holden and Andy Gassner, Students Dan Lubeck, Scott Loncki and Terry Burns. Coaches Stan Radev and Aimee Raby joined the group to get some good sessions.
On the first morning, we met our Captains Nacho and Alberto at the Casa Viento. It was nice to see them again. The wind was pumping, so we loaded their Volkswagen van with gear and rushed to the lagoon. As we arrived to the lagoon we spotted Nacho’s new boat… in big red letters on the bow we saw Nacho had named his new boat REAL, a nice welcome back!
The weather looked a little unstable, but it was windy, so we cruised to our secluded teaching beach. The day just kept getting better and better. The whole day we rode 13m Fuels surrounded by the Carribean water and the sun as we watched the clouds and showers pass us by on the horizon. The first day of camp delivered more than what everyone expected; steady side-onshore wind, warm shallow water, and a great secluded beach which allowed all the students to make tons of progress on the first day.
The following day was even better, the wind was stronger and the guys where able to ride their small kites. They had some epic sessions. All of the students had breakthroughs on their riding. They came back to the Casa Viento exhausted and already feeling their kite hangover ! For the last day of the camp, we all did a downwinder together, kiting the jelllo-blue water all the way back!
Listen to what our REAL coaches have to say about the first camp in Cozumel :
“The first camp in Cozumel was a great success! All of the students were up and riding. Day 1 we headed up to Isla Passion and ran short downwinders working on being self-sufficient. The campers were riding 13m Slingshot Fuels and enjoying the warm water. Day 2 the wind picked up! We rode in the lagoon all day. Started on 13m Fuel and quickly dropped down to a 9m Fuel! Riding in small breaking waves and super flat water all in the same spot!!! A true kiting paradise… After 6 hours straight all the campers were ready for a massage and some well deserved rest. Day 3, we set out for a big downwinder… Blue sky and JELLO water, smiles all around. On the lunch break all 3 campers fell asleep… a good sign that the camp had been all they had expected. Lots of time flying and riding in a sunny and windy tropical island setting. Viva la Mexico!” – Ed Holden, REAL Kiteboarding Coach
“I was so impressed with the progress I saw in the last three days. These guys worked hard to get where they are. Everyone put everything they had into this camp. We had a wide range of ability levels: beginner, intermediate, to semi-advanced. Everyone worked well together and each improved at his own pace. I can confidently say that each one of these guys are now self sufficient kiters and can confidently go to any beach and kite on their own. The conditions have been impressive as well. The storm that passed here months ago left the beaches wider, brought in more sand to make it shallower, and made sand bars where there was nothing before. When it is good like it was this last week here, it is hard to think of anywhere else I would rather be.” – Andy Gassner, REAL Kiteboarding Assistant Head Coach
“This week was a blessing of mother nature! She just delivered a full camp of fun kiteboarding and learning experience for Terry, Scott and Dan. With 12 more camps to go, I do see lots of fun coming together, meeting new friends, teaching, coaching and on top of all, lots of kiting! –Raul DeLille, REAL Kiteboarding Coach.
DON’T TAKE OUR WORD FOR IT!… Here is what our clients have to say about their camp experience:
“The Cozumel camp was awesome. I came expecting to learn a lot and hoping to stay upwind. By the end of day two, I already accomplished both. Even better, I had the two best kiting days I’ve ever had. Thanks REAL!” – Dan Lubeck, REAL Cozumel Camper
“ REAL in Cozumel is the Real Deal! How can you go wrong when you combine crystal clear and warm water, world class instruction and Island hospitality? Before coming to the REAL Cozumel Camp, I had never used a kite and a board together. The team at REAL was so good that they had me riding upwind by the end of my second day! The camp was awesome, the people were great and I would go back in a heartbeat!” – Scott Loncki, REAL Cozumel Camper
“I just finished the first Cozumel Kite Camp of the year and have no regrets for booking it. Any concerns I had about the after effects of Hurricane Wilma were unwarranted. The conditions on Cozumel are phenomenal after Wilma. There are lots of wide powdered sugar beaches to launch and land from, more steady wind (less to block it) and tons of superb riding locations.
The accommodations were also spectacular and super convenient. You can either walk right to the beach and start riding or drive a few minutes north to the boats and other tropical launch sites. The best place to stay… Thanks Nicole and Lisa !
As far as the instruction goes, there were many familiar faces from my first REAL Kite Camp in Cape Hatteras, Andy Gassner, Aimee Raby, Ed Holden, Stan Radev… Local coach Raul DeLille was my instructor for the camp. He was very patient as I shook off the rust. After observing me power-washing my face with my patented crashes (the water in Cozumel is soft), Raul went to work and in no time had me riding at level beyond my expectations. Gracias Raul!
You will not come across any instructors at REAL that resemble “Bubha” your local instructor. All of the REAL instructors are extremely knowledgeable, professional, patient and customer focused, without attitude. If I had invested the money that I wasted on local lessons into REAL Kite Camp from the start, my riding would be light years ahead, the REAL Kite Camps will actually save you money and make you a better rider.
It’s pretty simple… put down the snow shovel, book your camp and come to Cozumel!” – Terry Burns, REAL Cozumel Camper