Taking a Kitesurfing Course at Tatajuba Beach in Brazil

First attempts to get the kite up with the instructor still close behind me (©Coen Wubbels)

From our apartment I look out over the beach, the mouth of the lagoon, and the ocean. During the morning hours it is quiet: a fisherman may be returning with his catch or somebody is going for a stroll along the shore. Somewhere after 11 am tranquility transforms into hustle and bustle, as if a silent alarm has gone off. Now is the time! Let’s Go! The offshore wind has turned onshore and all of a sudden the subdued, relaxed atmosphere at our guesthouse has become one of energetic movements and excitement. It’s time to go kitesurfing!

I walk down to the beach with the kitesurfers, watch them inflate their sails, lay out their lines, put on their harness but no wet suits. One of the best things about kitesurfing in northeast Brazil is that you can do it in beach shorts and shirt; the temperatures are just perfect all year round.

In Your Bucket Because…

  • You want to learn kitesurfing and are looking for the perfect place to take a course.
  • You’re an experienced kitesurfer and are ready for downwinders or a multiple-day kite safari.
  • Good for anybody who loves kitesurfing or who wants to learn it.

Downwinders and a Multiple-Day Kite Safari

Preparing the lines according to strict instructions (©Coen Wubbels)

I look at them with envy. They are experienced surfers who can go out on the ocean. As a beginner – I have just started a fifteen-hour kitesurfing course – I have to wait for high tide. That is when the lagoon has filled up and is safe for us beginners. Today I will have to wait until three pm. This is terribly frustrating, but after all the stories I have heard from people here who have kitesurfed everywhere I know that in fact Tatajuba has the best conditions in the world to learn kitesurfing.

At this beach a constant, strong wind blows every day: 5 to 7 Beaufort. It blows onshore from about 11am to 6 or 7pm . It makes this beach, and coast, perfect for one-day downwinders: A buggy takes you 10-15 kilometers up the beach and you kitesurf back.

The consistently strong winds quickly destroy banners and flags (©Coen Wubbels)

Kite World Wide, an organization that organizes exclusive kitesurfing vacations to numerous destinations throughout the world, has a rental shop on Tatajuba’s beach and has a partnership with Pousada do Vento which provides a high-quality level of accommodation for their kitesurfers. The kite school has two instructors, One speaks German and English. The second, an excellent kitesurfer from the nearby village of Tatajuba, speaks Portuguese and is learning English.

There’s more: Kite World Wide organizes 9 – 12 day kite safaris. Each day the kiters surf downwind and stay at another guesthouse. During the entire stretch four-wheel drives are following the surfers on the beach so if anybody gets tired or has equipment problems, he or she can stop.

Security Measures of Kitesurfing

Tino, Kite World Wide’s Instructor, explains safety issues (©Coen Wubbels)

All these adventures are still way in the future for me. After a couple of hours of practice I am still struggling to control the kite, which is the basis of the sport. You can’t rely on physical strength as a strong gust can lift you up and deposit you somewhere in the dunes. You need to understand the working of the wind on your sail: what makes it go up and down, move slower and faster.

I practice in the knee-deep water of the lagoon – the safest place to do that because if the kite lifts me up I will end up in the water and won’t be dragged over the beach (in some places in the world ‘dry practice’ is the only way to start). It’s one of the things I really appreciate in the two instructors: safety comes first.

They hammer it in: what are the danger zones and what are the basic issues of security, whether this is a safe vs. unsafe place to kitesurf, how to lift and lower you kite, how to release the kite if you can’t hold on to it anymore. All experienced kiters are unanimous on this: “Don’t just go kitesurfing, make sure to do a proper course.” I seem to have arrived at the right place for that.

Frustration and Faith

Watching those kitesurfing jumps never tire me (©Coen Wubbels)

As I speak Portuguese, Jackson, the local guy from Tatajuba, is teaching me. He’s a fantastic kitesurfer and has tons of patience. I greatly appreciate the latter because, like many novices, I reach that point where I am mostly battling with myself: the sail is flying all over the place but not where I want it to go. “Devagar (slowly). Let go of the bar. Devagar. Stretch your arms,” I hear Jackson’s reassuring voice behind me. He has hooked a line to my harness and firmly holds onto it to help me keep my feet on the ground until I manage the sail.

“Okay, stretch out in the water now,” he instructs. The practice is called ‘body dragging’ – you allow yourself to be dragged through the water while you manage your kite. The first thrill of excitement, of feeling the speed and the adventure flows through my body. Yes! I’m happy and relaxed. I know I can do this. In time I will be kitesurfing on that ocean as well. I just know it.

Will I kitesurf that spectacularly, one day? (©Coen Wubbels)

Practical Information

  • The beginner’s course is 15 hours. How many hours per day you can kitesurf depends on the high tide. Recommended: book a two vacation to make sure you can finish you course and have some extra days to rent equipment and really master kitesurfing.
  • For more information on kitesurfing, check Kite World Wide’s website.
  • For those who bring their own equipment: bring small sails (6-10) as the wind is generally too strong for the large sails (12-14) mostly used in Europe.
  • There is no need to bring a wet suit. For those who get cold quickly, the rental shop has a couple of sleeveless neoprene vests.

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