On The Surface

Kite surfing & surface sports in Antigua


If you thought Antigua was just about yachts and sailing, think again. There’s an amazing variety of surface watersports out there to try. Here’s our round up of the best of the bunch. 

As an island nation, it’s no surprise that sailing and boating are the most popular sports and past times in Antigua. And as hosts of Antigua Sailing Week and Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, both attracting hundreds of yachts from around the world, the view of Antigua as a sailing nation has been cemented.  If you’ve ever visited Jabberwock Beach to the north of the island, you may well
have spotted kites flying high in the sky,
attached to people zipping across the water at unbelievable speeds. Kite boarding is a mixture of windsurfing, wakeboarding, surfing and paragliding, cleverly combined to create the most adrenaline pumping watersport ever. Kite boarders have been known to reach speeds of up to an unbelievable 55mph, proof that this sport is not for the feint hearted. 

But don’t let that put you off everyone learns somewhere. And there is no better place to learn than right here in Antigua. Situated on the northeasterly coast of the island, Jabberwock Beach is the location for kite boarding in Antigua, with kite boarders almost exclusively using the beach. 

Boasting warm crystal clear waters and consistent East to Southeast trade winds, it’s easy to see why. We caught up with Adam Anton at Kite Surf Antigua to give us his insider knowledge about the sport. 

“I started kite boarding in January 2002. After a year of watching a couple of my good friends having fun, I decided I had to get into it. It is a bit tricky at first, you’ve got to put time in at the start, but it has a steep learning curve, so once you get the hang of it you can actually get to a high level of riding pretty fast”. 

“Just about anyone can learn to kite board, as long as you’re in good physical health and you are a strong confident swimmer, and Jabberwock is a great place to learn. It’s pretty long compared to most beaches on the island so you have lots of room, and it has the perfect wind direction for learning. The wind there is always on-shore or side-on, so no matter what happens you’ll always be blown back towards the shore”. 

“On average it usually takes about 10 hours for a beginner to start becoming a competent kite boarder, you can get really good just in one season. If you’re a beginner you definitely need to do a course at an IKO, BKSA or PASA certified kite school. Think of it like scuba diving, it’s potentially dangerous so you need to get proper instruction.” 

Situated right on Jabberwock beach, Kite Surf Antigua provides quality lessons with certified instructors and the latest teaching specific equipment. Learners and beginners are not allowed to practice on Jabberwock beach without professional supervision, so it’s well worth investing in a few lessons. Prices start from as little as US$90 for an hour, but we recommend their ‘Clinic’. The Clinic is a 10 hours, 3 to 4 day complete course that caters to all levels. Starting from US$500, the Clinic offers the best value and the most effective way to learn. You’ll be zipping along with the rest of them in no time. 

If you don’t see yourself as an adrenaline junkie, and kite boarding seems slightly too energetic, don’t despair. The latest watersport craze, Stand Up Paddle Boarding (or SUP for short) has finally reached our golden shores. 

Paddle boarding requires a long board, usually no more than 12ft, a one bladed paddle and good balance. The beauty of this watersport, and the reason for its mass appeal, is its versatility. Unlike surfing, paddle boarding doesn’t require any waves at all, in fact any large body of water will do: open ocean, harbour, lake, let your imagination run wild. Compared to a canoe, kayak or surfboard, its standing height enables the rider to see across further and deeper into the water, which means a better view. There’s no better way of exploring Antigua & Barbuda’s amazing marine life and stunning coastlines. 

Paddle boarding also happens to be a great way to work out, targeting all the key muscle groups, and we’d much rather be out on the water, breathing in fresh air whilst soaking up the sun than cooped up in any gym. 

If the wave seeker in you is bursting to come out, a paddleboard is a serious alternative to a surfboard. Unlike surfing, where the rider lies flat on the board waiting for the wave to crest, paddle boarding allows you to spot and paddle right on to a wave sooner. Riding the wave further out is a brilliant perk, not only does it mean greater control over positioning, it allows more time to enjoy riding that wave. 

Unless you’re lucky enough to own your own paddleboard, or willing to beg or borrow one, the sport is still very much in its infancy here in Antigua. However, there 

is a hope on the horizon, and we’ve heard that very soon paddleboards and blades will be available to hire out. This makes us very happy. We will of course keep you updated. 

Quoted as being “simply the best, most exciting, most awesome paddle sport on the planet”, Surfski is one of the fastest growing sports in the world. And yes, you’ve guessed it you can give that one a go here too! A Surfski is a long, narrow kayak with an open (sit-on-top) cockpit, usually with
a foot pedal controlled rudder. They’re usually between 161⁄2 ft – 21ft long, only 40–50cm wide and extremely lightweight, which make them exceptionally fast on flat water and brilliant at cutting through large broken waves. 

We spoke to Shelly Chadburn, who has been paddling and surfing for over 25 years, and used to compete for South 

Africa. She now runs Antigua Ocean Paddling. “Surfski is very easy, but having the right tuition is very important. My Dad was a kayaker, so naturally I started to surf ski when I was 18. We’re trying to grow the sport in Antigua, and I’m sure that with the right funding and sponsorship, it will undoubtedly become very popular”. 

Last year, for the first time, Antigua hosted a leg of the Caribbean Surfski Tour. The Tour saw competitors from around
the world take part, including Portugal, Australia, USA, Sweden and Spain. The Antiguan leg started from Half Moon Bay and finished at Turner’s Beach. Its success resulted in the return of the tour to Antigua this year, which took place in October. We’ve also heard that there are plans to expand the race with a downwind race from Antigua to Montserrat. 

Antigua Ocean Paddling is Antigua’s only paddling club. It was formed to get 

people out on to the water and to teach the younger generation. At the moment we’re based from wherever we paddle. That’s the wonderful thing about Surski, the best places to Surfski are anywhere!” 

Antigua Ocean Paddling are planning to hold their Kayak, Surfski and SUP fun time trials again during this season. Here at Luxury Locations HQ, we think it’s a fantastic way of getting yourself motivated, and with an entrance fee of EC$10 it’s cheaper than a gym membership. 

We’re also excited to hear of their plans to run a SUP race during the Charter Yacht Show; we might just see you there. 

For further information about kite boarding in Antigua visit www.kitesurfantigua.com
For details about Antigua Ocean Paddling or to enquire about Surfski lessons contact Shelly Chadburn; shellybarron@mac.com 

On  The Surface
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