Overpowered in Tarifa


Two successful kite adventures with rental equipment helped me to get over destroying my 12m² kite in a tree at 20 kts. This newly ignited motivation for the sport led to my girlfriend and I booking a trip to Tarifa in the south of Spain in November 2021.

For this endeavor I asked my experienced kite friend if he knows about kites from his community to be sold. Surprisingly he really knew about an 12m² North Mono kite looking for a new owner. The day before flying to Spain we met at his place and checked the kites condition such as pits in the cloth or leackages in the tube. He was on fire and a bit jealous about our planned trip to Tarifa, because apparently it is a destination he enjoyed a lot. After some advices about spots I bought the kite for 350€. (Looking back on how many sessions I enjoyed it – a really good deal)

The day after we traveled to the airport by train. This was the first time we traveled with kite luggage. Besides our normal suitcases we found ourselfs with a small boardbag and the kite bag. I felt like a bull in a china shop. I checked the kite bag as onboard luggage. Other passengers certainly were wondering what this neon green backpack is about.

New Territory

In Spain when we got our rental car the load and amount of luggage was not an issue anymore. It was such a feeling of freedom to decide independently where and when to kite without needing to pay an instructor or rental gear.

However, when we set our first foot on Valdevaqueros one of the most popular spots in Tarifa, we realized the wind here is far stronger than we are used to. Accordingly, the kites where a lot smaller than my only 12m² option. I was intimidated to use it with this conditions for the first time ever. We thought if we just wait for a bit, the wind will go down and 12m² is just right. After 1h we talked to the locals and asked for a spot with lower wind strength.

We headed towards the recommended Los Caños de Meca which is about 45 minutes car ride from Tarifa. At the end of the ride we were relieved to see a view colorful kites already from inside our car. We even got more exited as we saw that the sizes of the kites are comparable to our only option. We started to set up the equipment and connect the new North Mono 12m² to the bar for the first time.

Shaky Start

At the first launch attempt one of the steering lines was entangled and I had to pull the quick release. Fortunately a french witness who turned out to be a kiter too saw the mistake and helped me getting it right. The second launch was not successful either! Apparently I didn’t reassemble the quick release correctly so the chicken loop was loose and caused another emergency landing and a cut on the sole of my foot from a shell. A bit irritated an nervous I questioned, if I should give it another try. The french guy encouraged me to go for it, because there is no other way to learn it. So we reassembled it another time. Finally the launch was smooth and I hit the water for a nice but still overpowered session. The wind was side onshore which was important because I was not able to gain or even maintain height at this day. Happily I ended my first independent session with the new gear far away from where I entered the water.

Adapting to the Conditions

We were fascinated by the lovely old city center of Tarifa. The closeness of Morocco clearly characterized the old town. It is build like a maze with narrow streets and offers a lot of surfer style cafés and restaurants. Additionally the high city walls offer shelter from the stormy wind.

The next days we explored the different spots along the beach side of Tarifa. Quickly we got to know an Swiss kite teacher of the explora kite school. Besides the friendly kite instructor the school is offers premium CORE kiteboarding equipment.

We accepted and appreciated the offered lessons for my girlfriend and for me it was possible to rent a 9m² which was much more suitable to the strong wind conditions the spots have to offer. Additionally the conditions at these days were off shore so we also were equipped with safety rescue vouchers. Our spot of choice was between the city center at “Campo the Futbol” and the northern Valdevaqueros. The long beach line offered enough space for the numerous kiters to enjoy their sessions.

It was clear to see a dependency between the wind and water conditions. During off shore winds “Levante” the water surface was totally flat and perfect to acquire new skills. The more common wind coming in on shore from the Atlantic Ocean is called “Poniente” and brings colder temperatures and high waves.

The Secret Fish Restaurant

On the last two occasions I dared to kite surf Valdeaqueros at these wavy and raining conditions with my own 12m² kite. Those were definitely challenging sessions, but I could learn a lot about kite and board positioning in those conditions.

After a successful session a friendly kiter recommended a secret local fish restaurant. Many things about this restaurant are special.

  • Even tough it is listed on google maps the GPS does not quite show the right location
  • They offer fish based on what was caught during the day
  • There is no proper menu, the waiter who is also the cook brings a bucket with ice and the catch of the day. You can choose your desired fish by the looks of it and the kilo price. As side dish they serve a variety of vegetables.
  • As part of the service the chef is filleting the fish to be enjoyed without bones.

To sum it up, Tarifa has a lot to offer. Strong winds, nice atmosphere in the old town, friendly encounters are only a few reasons why we keep coming back and it already feels a bit like home.

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