From Issue 2 – you can buy it here!
Written by Victor Hays
Photo by Vincent Bergeron
Every year Slingshot’ Kiteboarding brings a few international team riders for a little trip somewhere in the world. Basically to spend 10 days shooting with Patrick Wieland, and this year Sam Light, Alex Fox, Carlos Mario, Andre Phillip, Mauricio Abreu and myself were the lucky few.
We also had the talented Vincent Bergeron taking part in this journey as our main photographer.
To organize a trip like this take a lot more than you may think. Not only to plan how to get everyone their new 2015 RPM quiver to Brazil (a country with very strict import duties) but also make sure that all the ten people that were coming from all over the world would arrive at around the same time so we could all get into 2 trucks for an eight hour drive to this newfound Kite paradise called Barra Grande. Luckily we had the guys from Jeri Trip Tours waiting for us in their brand new Toyota Hiluxes to drive us there, so even though the drive was long, it was very enjoyable.
Barra Grande is a magical place at the border between Ceara and Piaui, where the wind blows almost all year around. The kite conditions there are amazing too. Because of the big tides in those regions of Brazil, Barra Grande offers all types of riding conditions in one single day. From perfect flat water channels at low tide to waves and ramps at high tide and everything else in-between. As if that weren’t enough, you still have the option to do a five-minute down-winder to the most perfect lagoon surrounded by beautiful mangrove forests.
The infrastructure in Barra Grande was also very surprising, again, this is a very remote place and not very known yet so I didn’t expect that it would have so much to offer, but maybe this was because we stayed in one of the best places Barra Grande has to offer. The place we stayed was called Pousada Ventos Nativos. Mathieu is the owner and besides him speaking 4 different languages, he is also a very good kiteboarder and a big fan of Slingshot. Mathieu moved to Barra Grande almost ten years ago and in the last few he has built this amazing place right on the beach with brand new rooms, ocean-front bungalows and a great bar/lounge facing the kite spot.
We arrived there right before sunset and within seconds we were hanging out at the bar, drinking cold beers all the while watching Carlos Mario ripping on the water. Needless to say the trip had started well.
Part 2 – A Barra Grande Perfect Day
We were in Barra Grande for ten full days and everyday was pretty much the same, perfect! At 7am the sun was up and the wind was already picking up so it would be time to get up and get moving before Eric eats all the food from the breakfast buffet. (I don’t blame him, it was one of the best breakfasts I have ever had in Brazil.)
By 8am we would be rigging up and getting ready to hit the water. It seemed that our trip was perfectly timed with the tide because we had low tide in the morning and that would give us ideal flat water right in front of the Pousada. Patrick and Vincent loved that because they wouldn’t have to walk very far to shoot us riding.
By 11am the tide would be coming up already. The wind would also get stronger with the increasing tide and by noon the scenery had changed completely. Where we had perfect flat water for freestyle/wakestyle tricks, now you could see the waves and ramps everywhere and Carlos and Mathieu knew how to take advantage of that. They were boosting huge kite-loops, but since some of us still love our knees, we decided to go in and let Carlos and Mathieu put on the mega-loop show… It was lunchtime already anyway.
If breakfast was that good, we could only imagine what lunch would be like. And yes, it was amazing and there was so much of it! We had Brazilian rice with local beans (feijoada), farofa de banana, local shrimps, grilled veggies and in the center of all that, a huge grilled fish cooked to perfection. Mathieu did warn us that we would all get “preguiça” after that meal, I quickly asked Mauricio what that meant and to my surprise that meant “lazy” and wow Mathieu was right, we all got lazy after lunch.
After a good and well-deserved nap we slowly start to gather around this grassy area for a “slack line” session (of which Linus is the master) and a quick Capoeira/Jujitsu workshop from Mauricio and Carlos. Now that we were all awake again, It was time to go ride. The wind, of course is still strong, and there were some nice ramps from the high tide. We decided however, to make our first journey downwind to the lagoon.
For Patrick and Vincent the table had now turned, as they had to get themselves to the lagoon and the only way to get there is by donkey. They said the ride was super fun and relaxing, but we were too busy enjoying our downwinder and boosting some big jump to even notice them riding the donkeys down.
There are mangroves everywhere and that gave Vincent a huge smile as he could shoot everywhere with an amazing background, and that day we weren’t the only guys riding the spot, there was also some huge turtles hanging out with us. What a place to shoot! Fox and Sam were the first ones to arrive there and they were showing the true meaning of “wakestyle”. Those guys have so much style that every trick they do looks so good. Fox was even throwing some unhooked “one footers” that looked so legit.
Linus and I hit the water right after and I have to admit, that place was a dream for freestyle, so flat, I just wish we had the PKRA events in lagoons like this one. Needless to say, Linus and I were having the best time ever. A huge bonus was that we even got the chance to watch Mauricio and Andre wakeskating. I haven’t seen someone wakeskate in a long time, it was like we had traveled back in time to the early kitebeach days and guess what, they are still ripping! I don’t know if wakeskating is easy or not, but they were landing “kickflips,” “varial flips,” and a bunch of “shove-it” variations like it was the easiest thing in the world.
But no day is perfect without some carnage and unfortunately it was my turn to provide the show. Sam was giving a launch to Eric in a weird wind shadow near the mangroves, his kite was absolutely slacked with no power and I was coming in at full speed just a few metres down the beach. It didn’t look like his kite was going up so I decide to go for big jump. Well, that was some bad timing! As I jumped, Eric’s kite spun and powered up flying straight in to my face while I was five meters high. I was going so fast that when I hit the kite, my head destroyed Eric’s kite, the noise was so loud that I thought I had broken my neck or something. Everyone on the beach freaked out and rushed in the water to help me (as I try to untangle myself from inside Eric’s kite). At the end of it I was ok, yes, I did destroy Eric’s 7m Fuel, but what really matters was that no one got hurt.
By now it’s 5pm and it’s almost dark. The sun is setting and the colors were amazing. You could hear Vincent screams of happiness, as he is incentivized Carlos and Sam to keep kiting. Vincent is a machine and he wasn’t going to miss that perfect sunset. (Little did he know that perfect sunsets are an everyday thing in Barra Grande.) After a quick up-wind ride we all got back to Ventos Nativos and by 8pm we were all showered, tired, and very hungry! DINNER TIME!
Part 3 – Small Town, Big Love!
Barra Grande is a small town that loves kiteboarding. It seems like everyone in town knew who we were because every night some new restaurant invited us over. And the food was not what I had expected, again! The first night we ate at this amazing outdoor restaurant called “KiteBliss”. Giant meals with the whole team are always a great time and the tables under the big tree and cold beer flowing non-stop made even better. Everyone on the slingshot team basically just takes turns giving each other shit for something. Since I am French, i usually endure the majority of this. As the food arrived however, the ramblings of useless jibber jabber from the likes of Fox and Wieland subsides to the sounds of the whole team saying “Yum” It was the perfect end to the best first day you could ask for.
All the restaurants in town were great, we even ate at this little place that served “Prato- feito” meals that the tables were pretty much at the lady’s living room. We also eat at this great place called “BANDOLEIROS” just down the street from our pousada. The place was an amazing atmosphere and it seems that everyone in town were eating there that night. Food was amazing and the “caipirinhas” too and had so many “caipirinhas”.
But the most memorable dinner we had was at the “LA COZINA” restaurant. Mathieu mention that this restaurant was owned by a great Belgian chef that moved to Barra Grande to kite and that is was by far the best restaurant in town, it is was, WOW! Not only was the food one of a kind, but the specialty cocktails were amazing. This was our last meal of the trip with the whole team together and it sure was a special one. With a round of Kiwi infused Caipirinhas for the table, and a lobster crabcake appetizer, the slingshot team, was a happy team. As we dove into one of the best seafood dishes any of us have ever tasted, we all asked Maurico why we hadn’t eaten there every single night of the trip.
I know that brazil is known for their hospitality, but it seems that everyone were going out of their way to make sure we were ok. They were really treating us like rock stars! It was only later that we found out that Carlos Mario was the real rockstar of the group.
“Bebe”, as his know in Brazil, is Barra Grande’s favorite son and everyone there treats him like the golden child. Bebe’s talent is undeniable, after all he did win his very first PKRA event he ever entered! And that was not with luck, Bebe is an incredible kiteboarder that can land any trick he wants and Patrick and Mauricio wanted to prove that on our trip. They asked Bebe to try land a 1080, and maybe he didn’t land a “video clean” one like they wanted him to do but I saw him pass the bar 3 times in the air, land on his feet, butt-checked and rode away which is closer to a 1080 then anyone else in the world. But I have traveled with Bebe and I know that he is truly a good person and everyone in town also knew that. They also knew that Slingshot was the brand that believed in Bebe so they wanted to show their gratitude to us too (the Slingshot family).
As we neared the end of the ten days spent travelling and kiting this amazing place, It was amazing to look back and think about all we had gotten the chance to experience in this new spot in Brazil. We were fortunate enough to be hosted by locals so well, and get to experience it all with each other. As we all left Ventos Nativos, we hugged and said our farewells. Linus went back home, Dre to Antigua, Fox, Sam and myself moving to the south to Uruau to film another Slingshot Video. As always it was a lot of work to get the job done, but we didn’t count the hours in the water or the crashes we had because it is truly what we love to do. We love what we are doing ; we are leaving the dream. Thanks all the guys who make this trip possible – Slingshot, Mauricio, Mathieu, Reginaldo and my team mates.