I had always assumed that kiteboarding and kitesurfing were the same thing. This was until an aficionado recently explained that there is a difference. It had to do with the board, so I was told. Explanation over and I can’t say that I was any the wiser.
Preference appears to have lurched in favour of kiteboarding, and the seal of terminology approval will come in three years time. Kiteboarding is to be an Olympic sport. Paris is hosting the 2024 Olympics, which is why kiteboarding will be held a good distance away in Marseille. Thus, another contemporary sport is to be added to the Olympics roster. It’s some forty years old, and one only has to have been aware of the activity in the bay of Pollensa over at least two decades to appreciate how popular it has become.
They refer to it as Sa Marina, the area where the kiteboarding/kitesurfing takes place. This part of the bay is a confusion of names - Corral d’en Bennàsser, Es Barcarés, Es Clot, Morer Vermell. They are all on the coast that reaches as far as the Punta de Manresa before dropping down to Mal Pas and Bonaire. It’s the other Alcudia, or another Alcudia, divorced from the developments of the port and the main tourist centre of what at one time was known as the City of Lakes.
Being well away from loads of beachgoers is essential. I once witnessed a fist fight in Playa de Muro when a kitesurfer, who most certainly should not have been there, came hurtling to a halt near the water’s edge and almost took out a child. Lifeguards and police hurried to the scene. The kitesurfer was lucky to get out alive; so had been the child.
Sa Marina is therefore perfect, and over the years a small collection of shops dedicated to kitesurfing have appeared. Once upon a time, there might only have ever been a dozen kites. It can now seem as if the bay is filled with hundreds - a collage of multi-coloured kite technology for all those in pursuit of air time and the demonstration of “mobes”, the tricks of the kitesurfing (aka boarding) trade.
There is a constant search for the right conditions, the breezes. A good cross-wind is needed. Onshore and offshore winds are not right; too fierce and the wind can be “nuking”. There is a whole set of kite terms to be learned. Kities are themselves sometimes referred to as “Charlie Browners”.
Perfect, but it hasn’t always been perfect. It still isn’t. There have been plenty of run-ins over the years. Sa Marina plus Corral d’en Bennàsser, etc. may be a quiet spot, except for the main road (which creates its own problems), but people do live there, and these people do quite like availing themselves of the opportunities presented by the bay - opportunities that don’t include kitesurfing. Regular beachgoers and bathers have therefore been in conflict with the other users.
It used to be that there were tensions with the kite schools which constitute the small collection of shops. Not now. There is strict compliance, and so there is also coexistence. But while the schools are well aware of potential risks and do all they can to avoid them, there are the kities who turn up and don’t stick to the rules. They’re the problem.
In March, Alcudia town hall was asked to introduce certain measures. One of these was the hiring of an information officer to ensure compliance with agreements that apply specifically to Saturdays and Sundays in the summer. By Friday of last week, there was no sign of this officer. The councillor responsible for beaches, Domingo Bonnin, says that the officer has now been taken on and will be there this weekend.
Hopefully, all will now be sorted. It’s not a frivolous matter. There is a real safety issue, which is why the residents have made their complaints over the years. But meanwhile, and in compliance with the regulations, there are all those kities in the bay. And who knows, among them may be a future Olympic champion.