BY John Donovan.
I recently returned from a 3 week kiteboarding trip to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic. I love Cabarete! It is one of my favorite places to visit. I started my trip with 10 days hanging out with my friend Luciano Gonzalez at his newly opened surf camp LG Surf Camp. Luciano is a former Red Bull sponsored pro rider and 3 time Masters of Ocean champion.
I have stayed with Luciano several times in the past and when he opened his new surf camp I had to check it out. Mornings were spent either surfing at Encuentro or SUP surfing the reef in Cabarete Bay. Winds would pick up in the afternoon and it was time to kitesurf. Most days called for 12m kites but there were a couple of days when the winds were a little lighter and a 14m kite was needed.
Cabarete Bay is approximately 3km long with mostly choppy water and amazing waves with a reef break that provides 3 - 6 ft waves. Kitebeach is around the point on the west side of the beach and usually provides much flatter conditions but also tends to be very busy with much less beach area. My preference is always to kite within the Bay. The choppy conditions and reef break are awesome.
After 10 days staying at LG my family arrived and I moved us into a 2 bedroom condo at Millenium Resort. This is the premier condo development within Cabarete and the facilities are fantastic. They include a Spa, Fitness Centre, Yoga studio, and restaurant. It is also home to Laurel Eastman Kiteboarding, a great kiteboarding school and shop where I always rent a storage locker for all my gear. Located within the heart of the Bay, Millenium it is just a short walk to all the restaurants/bars and cafes.
I have known Laurel for several years and as a former pro kiteboarder she has used her exposure to help raise much needed funds to support various charities within Cabarete. Most notably Kiteboarding4kids and Kiters4Communities. In the past I have always made contributions but this year I wanted to do a little more so I sent out a request to the Ottawa kiting community for donations of any damaged or unwanted kites. These kites are donated to the Haitain community where they are used to make various types of bags that are sold in the surf shops around Cabarete with all proceeds going towards the construction of a Haitian Community Center. My goal was to bring down 10 old kites but the response from the locals in Ottawa was tremendous and in the end I was able to deliver 15 kites to Laurel and the Kiters4communities organization. Including one of my own after I crashed my 2011 Switchblade and it was destroyed by the beach break. When I presented the kites to Jean Robert, LEK equipment manager and one of the seamstresses for the bags, the gratitude expressed was very overwhelming. He was so happy and excited to have all this new material. Generally a very shy guy, for the rest of the trip he was always ready to launch or land my kite, run me out a different board when I wanted to switch boards and helped me pack up at the end of each session. For those kiteboarders that donated their old kites thank you so much. I would like to acknowledge the generous donations of Nicolas Pham-Dinh, James McDermott, Paul Gardner, Doug Knutson, Jamie Strachan and Christine Bull. Thank you so much. I would also like to add this message directly from Laurel:
The Kiters 4 Communities (K4C) project is a fun and easy way for kiters to dispose of their old un-usable equipment and have it made into something really cool while helping people at the same time. Our limiting factor for growing the project and increasing our impact is sourcing material. People like John and Marnie and all the kiters in the Ottawa kite community who donated to this initiave make a huge difference. The money K4C makes from selling bags constructed from these kites will fund the final construction stage of the Haitian immigrant school in Cabarete where 25 youngsters now study.
I had an amazing time in Cabarete. I was on the water kiteboarding 12/20 days with last 5 days being world class conditions. The days I was not kiting there was surfing, SUP, YogaSUP...which was an experience for sure, and just hanging out on the beach. Everybody is friendly, chilled and relaxed and I am looking forward to going back again next year.
If you have an old kite you would like to donate please feel free to contact me directly and I would be happy to make arrangements to pick it up.