Thu, 01 July 2021
“When it comes to wind-based watersports, position is nothing - performance is everything!”
Bahrain and the surrounding islands have a number of coastal beaches, bays and areas that are perfect for wind-based watersports, like windsurfing and kite surfing. Most of these spots are only ideal under certain conditions or at certain times and a number are in isolated areas or secluded from the general public eye. BTM ventured out to Nurana Islands, just one of the many ideal wind watersport locations to meet up with, watch and speak to a group of enthusiasts who are a small part of the family of the wind watersport wizards of Bahrain.
The group we met was made up of people of all ages and backgrounds: bankers, IT specialists, commercial pilots, architects, consultants, real estate advisors and even a Typhoon fighter pilot. They all have one thing in common - a yearning zest for the adrenaline that wind watersports offer.
Richard Stephens, a well-known figure on the water, explained that a session generally starts with the early message from one of the group members, that simply shows, what might be good wind and conditions for wind watersports. This quickly develops into an impromptu session away from work, a hurried meeting or conference call and an ultimate aim to get onto the water as soon as possible and enjoy the wind while it lasts.
The bay at Nurana islands, with Manama picturesquely silhouetting the background and skyline is perfect for these activities. With its warm, flat shallow waters and a bit of wind, the sky comes alive with the brightly coloured kites and windsurfer sails and the air is filled with the slapping sound of material as the boards and kites zoom past.
The group work together helping each other, supporting one another, and with the almost practiced ease of circus trapeze artists, gear is offloaded and assembled, and then the water becomes a stage filled with vibrant colours, fast moving boards, sails and kites and everyone does their own thing. These are careful and very safety conscious actors on this liquid stage, and very carefully the scenes are played out with surfers swishing and swooshing past each other at what from a distance appears to be perilously close, but in reality a safe distance, allowing room for maneuvering and acrobatics that each sport has its own particular type of.
“That’s why we kitesurf …
Depending on the wind strength and your mood you can do almost anything on the water” - Richard Stephens
From an outside perspective it is amazing to watch how practice leads to perfection and how this group make everything they do look so easy. Ulli and Stephen come hurtling past at speed on their new “Foils” which lift their conventional kite surfing boards about a meter out of the water and as they come past sitting nonchalantly on the boards, legs hanging loosely over the edge almost in the water, they look as relaxed as though they were sitting on deck chairs at a BBQ. Davide , Don Bradley, Ash and the others sail past on their windsurfers making it look “just oh-so-easy” - but trust me on this - it takes a lot of practice and time on the water as well as some good guidance and lessons to get as far as they are. This is a great day out, good fun and the camaraderie amongst these water sport knights is tremendous.
Every now and then there is a splash, and someone is in the water, but it doesn’t take long before the board is slicing through the water again and the sails or kites are whizzing past making an exhilarating sound that only those in the know fully appreciate.
“It’s just a question of practicing, learning and doing better each time you go out”
The Bahrain fraternity of wind-driven watersport enthusiasts is quite small, but there are some outstanding participants with some extraordinary talents and on any reasonably windy day it pays to pack a picnic lunch, get the folding chairs and umbrella and head out to Nurana, or any of the awesome wind watersport spots, and watch how exciting these sports can be. Even as a spectator it’s enthralling, exciting and exhilarating to see, and a viewer might quickly find themselves embraced and welcomed, so much so that they pick up the sport and give it a try.
There is a lot of positive energy in this sport and lots of fun to be had, and it is easy to get carried away in the thrills and spills and pulled into this sport by the spontaneous desire to feel the adrenaline rush - but be cautioned these are sports that take practice, commitment, tenacity , endurance and drive, not to mention a lot of energy.
The Nurana Match Race 2021
If you want to get involved, remember - talk to the knowledgeable experienced surfers, and inquire politely if you do want to participate - Questions cost nothing, mistakes cost money. Almost all the surfers will tell you what they did wrong and how to avoid the pitfalls.
BTM readers can scan the QR codes to see more and especially interesting is this particular link below to see the expertise of a “Cheeky Dark Slide” perfectly executed, with exact timing and skill - a truly amazing feat. It looks easy, doesn’t it?