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> Aruba - One Happy Island
post Mar 22 2006, 02:05 AM
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From: D-troit
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Just back from six days in Aruba kiting with Fred Minkow and Jae-wrod Roth.

Arriving simultaneously on two different planes in a light drizzle, JR and I found Fred and Millie waiting to show us the best facets of the leftern most A-B-C island. As the sky cleared and the wind began to blow we settled in and took a peek at the most popular windsurf and kite spot Fishermans Hut just a six iron down the white sandy beach. It never became enough to ride and we enjoyed a fantastic meal on the water not knowing it would start to blow the next day and not stop.

Fishermans Hut is sooo different than any place we ride here in the mitten. The prevailing winds blow straight off shore at the 'Hut setting up glass flat conditions on the inside and a bit of chop on the outside. The water is 80 degrees or more and dark where the short seagrass grows and an unreal electric bluegreen that seemed magically illumintated where the white sandy bottom lies exposed. Aruba is very flat on this narrow end of the island and the wind is consistent but has some the biggest wholes in it ever. Difficult to stay upwind for duration here, only the locals can do it consistenly throwing tricks in the flats between the beach and the anchored fishing boats, keeping speed in the lulls and edging back ever so tactfully, and riding back into the beach at the end of the session. Big ups to JR for holding the line in our last session there.

Thankfully there are a few operations on the beach offering a boat pick up a mile or two (or three) out downwind for $20 a kite. We hooked up with Lysander of Aruwak Kiteboarding and he had our backs watching out for us with his skiff and also doing some serious ripping of his own. Not worrying about staying upwind we were able to make Huge reaches from the edge of the high rise hotels on port past the exposed carcasses of shipwrecks on starboard, we ripped shallow flats and hucked tricks for gasping and hollering passengers on sunset boat cruises ocassionally getting a swig of salty water and laughing.

We twice made the 30-40 minute 25 mile drive to the other undeveloped side to kite at Boca Grande - a nice half moon bay with big sandy beach, on/side onshore winds, waves outside / chop in the middle / flat inside surfaces. Locals call it da skate park. Great spot as long as the waves dont work you in the shallows at either end of the bay and almost break your kneecap (ouch). You could really get comfortable here and push it, dutch dudes throwing powered mobes, ecuadoran chicks wave sailing, Lysander riding strapless surfboard in chop and waves, ramps for popping, Canadians even!, and a sunset session with just me an JD.

Did I mention it was warm and sunny and blew the whole time? Check out Aruban winds recent history on Ikitesurf. Wow. I rode 14 everyday, morning and afternoon sessions, a few times a 16 would have been nice. Every other kiter had a 12 it seemed. And the SLE BOW kites dominated, Crossbows everywhere and Fab 5 Fred was seen taking it to the next level on the Shockwave.

Rode very hard, very hard, great company and delicious meals, five days of perfect weather, Aruban Independence day, what a stellar trip!

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post Mar 22 2006, 10:03 PM
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Good good vibes here KK I need a holiday, I need a career like you and JR, the Mitt welcomes you guys back.

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post Mar 18 2010, 07:13 PM
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From: West Bloomfield
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I just returned from a week in Aruba. There are 4 kiteboarding schools there. They are Vela, Aruwak (www.arubakitesurfingschool.com), Armando’s Kitesurfing (www.kitesurfingaruba.com), and one other. Aruwak and Armando’s are the only ones that only teach kiteboarding; the others also teach windsurfing. There’s another “virtual” school with a guy named “extremewinds” who posts on this forum. Their website is www.kitesurf-aruba.com. They don’t seem to have an actual hut on the beach. Evidently they just pick you up at your hotel and take you somewhere. Hmm.

As you walk north on the beach from the Mariott hotels, the first one you see is Vela, immediately adjacent to the Marriott. Since the wind always blows offshore, this can be a problem because of a wind shadow from the hotel. The next shop you see will be Aruwak, which is a roof supported by 4x4s and no walls. Continue to walk north and you will pass the “fisherman’s huts,” which are a series of two long buildings with 4 doors on each. On weekends you will see locals come by and hang out there; otherwise they seem to be locked up all the time. Next you will encounter Armando’s and the one other school whose name I don’t recall. This is the prime spot, as the beach here is great and the wind is smoother. There is also direct access to the road, so this is where local kiteboarders come to ride and show off.

Pricing for all the schools is similar. Semiprivate two-hour lessons (2 students) cost $120 each, though it comes down to $100 if you take four lessons. I chose Armando’s for my lessons. Their shack is fairly well stocked with all the equipment you might need for taking lessons, or if you want to rent stuff. They charge $60 to rent equipment for 3 hours, and $20 for each rescue. Since the wind always blows offshore, you need to be confident of your ability to go upwind, or you will need to be rescued. I saw one experienced rider who needed a rescue. They even told me that they have had “new” instructors come down and need to be rescued at the beginning of their tenure.

Armando is rarely at the school; the week I was there, he popped in once, then left to go snow-kiting in Utah! The other instructors are Reynaldo from Venezuela, Brandy, and Brechi. I had lessons from all three.

I prepared for the trip by watching several videos, as well as practicing with a stunt kite. The first two days I was the only student, so I got private lessons. My first day was with Reynaldo. He quickly verified that I knew how to fly the kite, and then we went to a 6 meter kite. I did some water relaunching, body dragging, and learned to body drag upwind to retrieve my kite. We then tried a water start. That’s when the lesson ended. At that point Reynaldo hopped in his car, and left to return to Venezula to try to get his visa renewed. That was the last I saw of him.

Over the next 5 days I spent time with Brandi and Brechi. After 3 lessons I was able to get up and ride short distances both to the left and right, but never more than a minute or so. I was riding with a 9.5 meter bow kite. My main problem was that I’m not in great shape, and I tended to tire out after 15 minutes or so, since most of the time I was in the water relaunching. Interestingly, I broke a carbon fiber bar one day, and a line another day. Of course they didn’t fuss or ask me to pay; they just ran and got me a new one. I guess the stuff was well-used. Overall, I would say that I had a good experience and would recommend them to beginners coming to learn. All the instructors were friendly and patient. If only I could ride reliably!
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