No Down Days

Remember those days when you had to wait out hours, twiddling those proverbial thumbs while staring at the distant horizon, willing a decent swell to arrive just so you could get out and ride something? Thankfully, days like that are pretty much non-existent now thanks to foiling, and despite it having initially been the secondary option to kiting on Moona Whyte and Keahi’s recent trip to Cabo Verde, it did manage to save the day until the next swell came along. And Cabo Verde being Cabo Verde, they were never going to be waiting long for something suitably solid…

Words: Moona Whyte
Photos: James Boulding

We originally went to Cabo Verde as a kitesurfing trip. In fact, Keahi and I were so set on kiting that we only brought one foil setup between the two of us. Genius, I know. We needed some room for surfboards in our board bag in case of light wind, so the second foil board got the boot. We figured we’d mostly kite and could trade off playing around with the wing if it got small. Well I guess we were a little too optimistic on waves because we sure had a lot of days that, prior to foiling, we would have called “down days” (or I guess, half down days for us). But once again, foil (singular), saved the trip and turned the small days into some of the highlights.

The local crew in Cabo Verde has some amazing foilers. They have nice rolling waves with wind that were perfect for them all to go from one-time foilers when we were there last, to pros when we returned three years later. They actually thanked Keahi for getting them started because their first time foiling was on one of Keahi’s foils. Back then these waves weren’t really on our radar since we weren’t so into foiling. But now the sport and especially winging has opened up so many new spots, as well as opportunities for those who live near them which was very cool to see. We got to share a session with some of our friends from the island and it was a lot of fun. Keahi and I were sharing our foil, but he let me use it this time and he hopped on a kite instead. I think winging was the perfect call this day as it was a little offshore and the waves weren’t too big.

“Back then these waves weren’t really on our radar since we weren’t so into foiling. But now the sport and especially winging has opened up so many new spots, as well as opportunities for those who live near them which was very cool to see. “

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The swells were moving pretty fast at this spot until it hit the reef and then it had a nice steep section for turns. I was using the new H700 which felt really good; it turns with very little effort and is stable but still keeps you on your toes. I don’t foil in waves over waist high very often but with this setup I could keep up with the speed of the swell and it felt no different to riding my usual baby waves. But the highlight was trying to party wave with Keahi on the kite. I almost got clothes-lined a couple times, but it kind of worked!

On another not-so-down day we decided to check out the small, uninhabited island next to us. We rode way out to sea where some big swells were rolling through. The wind was up and down. James, who was taking photos, took the boat on the inside of the lagoon where it was calm. Keahi raced it around the corner of the island, saying “watch out for the bombies on the outside” as he flew past. I saw the lighter blue sections of water and could tell those were the shallower spots where waves were breaking. I willed myself not to come down off foil or I may not be able to get a gust before a set came through. I wove my way through darker blue corridors, turned the corner, and made it to a peeling point off some rocks. The view was awesome with the offshore waves and a deserted island. There was no sight of civilization here.

My favorite thing to do whenever I’m wind-powered in a new place is to explore it. Especially around cool little islands. With a kite I’m very limited to wind direction, fluky gusts and big lulls, but with the wing I can get as close as my mast is deep. Although, I also get easily distracted by waves, so I stayed out playing on the swells until it was time to go in for a big plate of cachupa (the national dish of Cabo Verde). The session that kept getting better kept giving until the very end: the way back to the beach we started from was only a couple tacks away! One tack sightseeing along the island, and one tack straight home. I never got around to the downwind side of the island, but that’ll be an adventure for next time, hopefully with foil boards for both of us.  

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