RHYTHM AND HEALTH
If you thought Tarifa was dying, you'd be wrong. It's still one of the most important venues in world kiteboarding - with many brands basing their R&D centres there - and is, without doubt, the nerve centre of European riding culture, providing a strong beating heart that keeps the travelling throngs pumping in.
Lying just a 30 minute ferry ride from Africa (Tangiers, Morocco), Tarifa is so close to the world's second largest continent that you can almost feel that tribal, earthly beat. Only Hood River and Cabarete come close in terms of evoking such a kiteboarding spirituality. It seems like everyone here rides: the high street is lined with equipment shops and schools; every car and van has some sort of kite-related stickers in the window and beach car parks overflow as soon as the flags start to flutter. In July and August you can get up to a thousand kiters out. Avoid those months and you'll always find yourself a good stretch of water to enjoy the varied conditions.
Don't let your first impressions fool you; there's more to this place than just kiteboarding, though. There's a large, traditional Spanish population that probably hate the wind! Venture away from the beach and you'll find beautiful valleys and picturesque roads leading to white-washed villages, incredible mountain biking routes and stunning sights, such as the Straits of Gibraltar. This isn't a tourist town on its knees in an economic crisis. It's affluent in ways most of us will never know. Passion runs deep and the energy bounces off the city walls. Anywhere that provides the resting place for so many adventurous travellers has something special.
The reason people come to Tarifa has never changed, from the time it developed as a windsurfing town, morphed into a trendy clothing and party town and now rests as a multi-sport / kiteboarding venue for travellers from all over the world. Tourists still come here to enjoy the surroundings, the wind, the beaches and the parties because that revitalising, surf-city feeling has never died.
Days are just numbers, weeks float by and, of course, there's always tomorrow.
We chose to meet and profile women's multiple world champion - Gisela Pulido, the long-time servant to kiteboarding and North – Jaime Herraiz, and Alvaro Onieva, a young wake-style master who has just quit the PKRA tour after never missing an event in seven years. Their attitudes and lifestyles typify the kind of people that are drawn here. The fact that they are three of the most accomplished and influential riders in the sport today and spend most of their time in Tarifa, highlights the nature of the riding, lifestyle and development opportunities that Tarifa still presents.
Onto other matters and on test this issue are:
Airush Flow, Best Kahoona, Core GT, Flexifol Neutron, JN Prima Donna 2, Liquid Force HiFi, Naish Torch, North Evo and Ozone Instinct Edge RX
F-One Trax, C-Tec Pro Carbon Custom, Liquid Force Recoil and Skywalker Comp.
North Rhino 16m kite, Skywalker Cruise twin-tip and North Race Ltd race board.
Learn three toe-side tricks, crack the secret to upwind riding and catch a big, gaping barrel.
All that, plus much, much more!