We’ve all done it, no kiter is immune. It’s the rugged climb over steep and jagged coral stone, around a windy narrow hillside bend, and the walk back down the entire stretch of our most popular kitesurfing beach, Silver Rock, Barbados. Head down, breathless, depleted, gear and kite in hand, you walk. If you’re lucky, a rescuer is by your side to help out. Fellow kitesufers and random beach patrons watch, silently wondering, “What the hell happened to you?!”. You glance up to let them know you’re okay, but you don’t want to talk about it… not yet. It’s called the Rescue Beach walk of shame.
Barbados has a pretty tight community of local kitesurfers. On a windy day, these kite addicts will congregate at one of two beaches– Silver Rock and Long Beach. While Long Beach is a fun ride for advanced kiters and those who love to practice jumping big waves, Silver Rock is where you will find most kites in the sky.
One of the downfalls of Silver Rock is that it’s a short stretch of beach. So when things go south, you do too. The current will drag you past a jagged coral point to another beach, Silver Sands, which local kitesurfers have appropriately termed “Rescue Beach”. Rescue Beach is where you end up when things go wrong, and you have run out time to figure it out. Your next-best strategy is relaunching the kite, or maneuvering a self-rescue to get to shore as quickly as possible. Beyond that, you’re in real trouble.
Just under two weeks ago, I had my initiation. As a beginner, I am just learning to get up and ride now, and can’t really go upwind yet. So, I ride mostly downwind, and keep an eye on the rocks, knowing that at a certain point, it’s time to come back into shore and walk back up to the top of the beach. That day, I thought I had enough time for one more ride. As fate had it, the wind died, I lost control, and my kite fell out of the sky. I tried desperately to relaunch, but nothing was working. My board was long gone, but that was not my main concern. My eyes were fixated on the fast-approaching rocks. Also realizing my perilous fate, my trusty onlooker, Carolina, swam out to help. We tried to get the kite back up together, but the wind was not cooperating. That was it. We were going to Rescue Beach.
As soon as we passed those rocks, it was a mad dash to wrap the lines and get to shore. Thankfully, two people make the self-rescue process a bit easier. Once we got close enough to shore, some windsurfers who had been eyeing our disgraceful recovery came out to help. We made it. Kite intact, but lines completely tangled. Another friend came to check on us, delivering the abandoned board. After a long untangling session, regaining composure and deflating the kite, we grabbed all the gear and proceeded to walk. I must say, it could have felt worse. The whole experience was draining, and the walk was long, but I was happy to have arrived back on Silver Rock beach, safe, with all my gear undamaged.
When you come kitesurfing in Barbados, be sure to take a glance at Rescue Beach, preferably before you get there unwillingly. If not, we’ll be there to buy you a cold beer after your first walk of shame. Preview the walk below: