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Monday, 24 March 2014


A few weeks ago I had a phone call asking if I'd like to visit the PKRA in Dakhla Morocco, we chatted for a while and it turned out I was being offered a all expenses trip to report on both the PKRA event but also in general about Morocco and in particular this kitesurfing heaven!
I pondered for a while whether I had space in my hectic schedule, no I didn't - I immediately screamed YES PLEASE!
I have been lucky enough to have visited Dakhla twice before, running group trips way back when it was just tents, electric only for evening meal time (in the big tent) no wifi and no booze (it was Ramadan)!!

Things have changed!

I flew out with Air Moroc from Heathrow and had a stop over in Casablanca where I was met by Farouk..a softly spoken, and very pleasant Moroccan from Rabat (the Capital) Farouk took me on a whirlwind tour of Casablanca including the very impressive Hassan II Mosque 
The Hassan ll Mosque is the largest in the country and the 7th largest in the world.


I was staying the week at the beautiful Ocean Vagabond village situated at the extreme far north end of the vast lagoon. To say was shocked by how things had changed and advanced since my last visit 7 years ago would be an understatement. Both here and in Dakhla Attitude the simple tents lit only by candle lights at night have been replaced with cute little eco bungalows set on the edge of the lagoon, most have very impressive sea view and all the mod cons.
 My little house by the sea!

My first day was also the official opening ceremony for the PKRA World Tour, a chance for all the competitors who have travelled from across the globe to this isolated but windy piece of heaven to catch up with each other. The venue for this major world comp is set in the most spectacular landscapes you will ever see...baron maybe but spectacular none the less!
Competitors line up to greet the dignitaries from the nearby city of Dakhla

I met up with the British competitors...Wave riding - Lee "pasty" Harvey, Danny Morrice and Kirsty Jones and the lone Freestyle Brit Aaron Hadlow

The first day of competition kicked off with the Moroccan trials for selection through to the main event, this was extremely competitive too with the "locals" throwing down all the big moves required at this top level in the sport.
The impressive judging tower in the lagoon!
I spent the rest of the day engrossed in the sights of such a huge event set in such an awesome spot, I wondered up on top of the nearby ridge which gives you a super panoramic view of the whole vast tidal lagoon.

No matter how many people are on the water here there is always plenty of space to be found!
 And if there is NO wind Dakhla Attitude now has it's very own cable park complete with kickers/sliders.

The next day was scheduled to be the first day of the wave event, a meeting was held at 10am and it looked pretty shaky if anything was going to happen. Fortunately Lee "pasty" was gunning as usual for the comp to go NOW! So eventually after much deliberation it was agreed to head for the wave spot near too Dakhla city and at least try. 

It was a good call!

The waves were maybe not the biggest but they were a nice clean smackable right hander peeling along down the point with a decent cross shore breeze helping maters.
Straight off it was pretty obvious that the standard was going to be so high...way higher than any previous events with so many people capable of going the whole way.

It was great to see both Lee and Danny doing the UK proud and progressing through there early heats, even against such strong competition.
Lee & Danny 
These guys have had to sacrifice so much to travel to contests like this....sponsors are simply not throwing money at the regular guys on the circuit. Most have to work extra shifts at work and scrimp and save towards funding themselves to get here.
Lee "pasty" Harvey UK flying the Cornish Flag!
The official PKRA Wave Video from the Event

Over the next few days and I was chaperoned around (with others from Portugal/Brazil/France etc) to various places of interest including a visit to a Oyster farm, luckily enough at lunch time! Talk about FRESH, these were direct from the sea in front of the restaurant. 
 The oysters here are reportedly the best in Morocco!

Next stop was the large green houses you pass when on the way to the lagoon from the airport, all 66 hectares of them. If you add the other greenhouses a few miles away they total some 600 hectares!! 
Here they grow Tomatoes, Cucumbers and Melons of which 95% of the production from here is exported to Europe and USA  


There is another farm nearby where they grow errm Ostrich for the market of North Morocco and Mauritania.

Whilst we were in Dakhla we were lucky enough to attend the opening of a new Golf Club, with an eco friendly desert style course. It has long way to go but it shows the areas commitment to attracting new markets of tourism.

 Bab Bal Bahar Golf Club - Dakhla

So after this it was back to the comp and it was really hotting up and getting pretty exciting to watch, there were the usual guys you'd expect to see ripping but quite a few other not so familiar faces were fighting there way through the rounds too. 

It was always looking likely to be Mitu, Keahi, Airton etc but also Pedro Enrique from Brazil was killing it with his back side onslaught. Pedro was once World Junior Surf Champion and I know his dream is to become World Kitesurf Champ's looking pretty promising so far for Pedro.

Keahi took out Mitu in the semi's possibly one of the best heats of the whole comp with probably the best waves too, Mitu had one wave with two cover ups and it still wasn't enough, which left Pedro and Keahi to battle it out in the final and boy was it a battle. Wave for wave they exchanged move for move. Keahi with his super smooth effortless collection of ways to smash a wave and Pedro with his quite unique vertical back hadhand attacks. In the end Keahi was to finish top of the podium but it really was close for all the top guys from the quarters onwards.
 The Mens podium. 
1st Keahi 2nd Pedro 3rd Mitu
In the ladies there were a few stand outs early on and Moona Whyte from Hawaii was very much the one to beat, other notable performers were Milla Knesse and Jalou Langaree and our very own Kirsty Jones who is now based in Dakhla. 
In the end it was still to be Moona's smooth carving moves that would win the day with Kirsty in a very close second place and Jalou third.
Kirtsy Jones UK
 The Ladies podium.
1st Moona 2nd Kisrty 3rd Jalou

Sadly immediately after the presentation of the wave event I had to head off to the airport to fly home this meant I would miss the entire Freestyle event, however with the modern world I was able to watch plenty of the heats once home on the tinterweb!


The video of the Mens Freestye Finals

Mens - 1st Jacobs 2nd Tack 3rd Neto
Ladies - 1st Gisela 2nd Karolina 3rd Bruna

Ladies Final

So, I was there just under a week and I didn't even get the chance to kite....that's a first!! 
Would I recommend Dakhla to others.. of course I would!! 

Dakhla is moving with the times, it has all the luxuries we now demand...well most of them. Each "camp" around the lagoon offers everything the modern kitesurfer could wish for. Comfortable clean accommodation, good food, wifi, downwind trips to spots like White Dune and of course the wave spots. Or alternatively you could stay in one of the 4 star hotels in Dakhla such as Bab Al Bahar

We will be looking into running trips back to Dakhla in the near this space!

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