CIEGO DE AVILA._ The Jardines del Rey archipelago, one of Cuba’s most popular tourist destinations, is notable for its beautiful beaches, coral reef formations and an abundance of marine and terrestrial wildlife.
Its geographic location guarantees favorable conditions for nautical activities almost all year round: low tides, warm waters, and stable winds.
Hence, the region, and Cayo Guillermo specifically, was chosen for the introduction of kite-surfing. So far it is the only region in Cuba where this new recreational nautical activity is now practiced.
Two international kite-surf schools are currently operating; one at the Sol Cayo Guillermo Hotel (in conjunction with German tour operator Hola) and another at the Gran Caribe Club Cayo Guillermo Hotel (in conjunction with a French-Canadian representatives).
According to Iyolexis Correa, a Tourism Ministry official in Ciego de Avila province, the sport is going through a developmental and organizational phase, and will be officially launched as an extra-hotel product during the International Tourism Fair, FIT Cuba 2015, scheduled for Jardines del Rey next May.
As both centers offer kite surf lessons and training courses, the group of keys on the country’s northern coast may well become a very popular location with kite-surfers from around the world, she added.
FIT Cuba 2015 will be dedicated to nautical activities, and its program includes a Kite Surf Festival, which is expected to be attended by internationally renowned personalities of the sport.
Osvaldo González, manager of the Marina Internacional Marlin, said that kite-surfing has been practiced in Cayo Guillermo for over a year now, but the opening of the schools has created the idea of it featuring as a new recreational option.
Kite-surfing is considered a highrisk sport that requires extensive safety measures, so jet skies are always available in the area to provide rescue services if needed, González said.
The kite-surfing area has the necessary safety conditions to prevent accidents and potential harm to tourists in the swimming section, including maritime signs and buoys in the training area.
Meanwhile, Mario Ramos, sales manager of Cuba’s Marlin, Marinas and Water Sports Business Group, said that the sport will extend to other tourist destinations as well.
“We hope to take it to the beach resorts of Varadero (Matanzas province), Santa Lucía (Camagüey), Guardalavaca (Holguín), and Tarará and Santa María del Mar (Havana),” he added.
Noelvis Caballero, sales manager at the Gran Caribe Club Cayo Guillermo Hotel , explained that shallow waters up to one kilometer from the coast pose no risk at all for beginners or seasoned kite-surfers, thus making it an enjoyable activity.
Last December, they welcomed a group of FAM kite-surfers who, according to Caballero, praised the location´s conditions, not only for the favorable characteristics of the beaches but also because the resort has a comprehensive infrastructure.
Caballero said that in addition to being ideal for kite-surfing, the area offers excursions to other equally beautiful natural sites, making the stay of the athletes and their companions more gratifying.
Kite-surfing is a surface water sport in which a kite-boarder harnesses the power of the wind with a large controllable power kite to be propelled across the water on a kite-board, similar to a wake-board or a small surfboard, with or without foot straps or bindings.
Although the practice of this sport did not become widely popular until very recently, it is known that since the 12th century kites had been used in China and Indonesia to pull small ships.
It was not until 1977 that Gijsbertus Adrianus Panhuise (The Netherlands) received the patent for a surf board pulled by a sort of parachute, giving way to the increasing practice of kite surfing as a sport.