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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Kiteboarding takes Yucatán’s coast by storm

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.

With 378 kilometers of coastline stretching from Celestún to El Cuyo, there is more than room enough for everyone to do their own thing.

Kiteboarding is a rather niche sport and is likely to remain so, but it’s undeniably picking up speed in Yucatán. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

Windsurfing, water skiing, and kayaking all have their place in Yucatán, but over the past decade or so, kiteboarding (also known as kitesurfing) has exploded in popularity. 

Kiteboarder pulling off some impressive tricks near Progreso. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

As the name implies, kiteboarding uses an inflatable kite to zoom the riders at great speed over the surface of the water on a board.

Experienced kiteboarders can reach speeds of up to 40-plus miles per hour — though on average most stick closer to 15-25. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

As it turns out, the coast along Yucatán’s northern coast is perfect for kiteboarding and is now attracting droves of tourists looking to get some serious highs. 

“I live in the bay area and kite is huge there, but the beaches are crowded and the conditions are often not ideal. In Yucatán, the wind is very reliable and there is just so much coastline for everyone to enjoy,” says Roque Arcudia, a native Yucateco working in Silicon Valley.

For someone who has never even attempted kiteboarding, the entire thing looks quite intimidating and with quite a steep learning curve.

There is no denying that kiteboarding looks extremely cool, but the sport requires great endurance and much practice before it really becomes all that much fun. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“It’s a very bad idea to try to learn to kite on your own, if you don’t know what you are doing it can be quite dangerous,” adds Arcudia. 

For this reason, several kite academies have sprung up along the coast, teaching eager students from Yucatán and across the world.

Experienced kiteborderds like Roque Arcudia make it all look rather easy, but I asure you it is not. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán MAgazine

You would think that the popularity of this rather extreme sport would be focused on the young, but if you look closely at the folks zooming along the waves you will spot several people well into their 50s and 60s doing tricks side by side with teenagers. 

High-speed and rather dramatic-looking crash landings are routine among kiteboarders who argue that learning how to fall is as integral to the sport as learning how to catch air. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gacht

“I started kiteboarding in my 40s when I lived in Belize, but now that I am in my late 50s and living in Yucatán I am still going strong,” says Mattias Bauer, originally from Salzburg.

But no matter your age getting into kiteboarding is a fairly major commitment, as the cost of even the most basic kits starts off at a few thousand dollars. 

One thing that has always struck me about kiteboarders is how eager they are to help each other out.

Getting the kite up into the air in just the right way is more often than not a two-person job, but there always seems to be someone willing to help. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

In the early afternoons when the wind is usually at its most intense, it is not unusual to count dozens of kiteboarders riding the waves regardless of the day of the week. 

pular places for kiteboarding in Yucatán is in the Playón, just to the east of Progreso in Chuburna. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Aside from the weather conditions, another of the things that makes Yucatán so attractive for kiteboarders are relatively inexpensive equipment rental and accommodation costs.

When it comes to safety most kiteboarders agree that the main thing is to not over-exhaust yourself, as you may be forced to swim a large distance at the drop of a hat. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht

As for myself, I think I will stick to kayaking, thank you very much.

For most of us, a day ok Kayaking is probably provides more than enough adrenaline. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
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