By Sabi Phagura, Journalist and fitness instructor passionate about all things health, fitness and travel tweeting @Iamfitlass
Tuesday 13 Nov 2018 8:00 am
As a self-confessed fitness fan, Im always on the lookout for trying new sports.
And when I heard kitesurfing will feature for the first-time ever at the Paris 2024 Olympics, I wondered why I hadnt paid as much attention to it before.
A sport well-loved by Barack Obama, Prince William, Emma Watson and Richard Branson, I decided to try my hand at a crash course.
Who wouldve thought that a quiet fishing area on the Moroccan coast would become one of most popular kitesurfing destinations in the world?
But thats exactly what the ancient city of has become.
Known as the windy city of Africa, with its long stretch of wide, endless beach, coupled with huge swells and epic waves, kite surfers cant get enough.
And so, I travelled to the area to be taken under the wing of international kite surfer Tom Court and a team of instructors from KiteWorldwide.
They offer Slice Of Life Clinics across the world, which are suitable for beginners and intermediates.
Pupils here are in good hands, but as any athlete worth their salt knows, you cant run before you can walk. You need to be patient.
My first day with the group began in earnest with a full body stretch and yoga moves on the beach, overlooking the coast with camels for spectators.
Toms personal trainer and nutritionist Sophie Matthews emphasised the importance of stretching: Never neglect a warm-up by stretching thoroughly before entering the surf.
This will reduce the risk of muscle injury or cramp while youre kitesurfing or surfing.
If youve done board sports like skateboarding or surfing before, you will have a head start. Balance is key.
We start with surf lessons, spending half the day familiarising ourselves with our surfboard, both in and out of the water.
Our instructor Momo drilled into us to let go of our fears of falling in.
Avoid ditching your board to prevent injury to yourself or others, he shouted.
But if you do lose your balance, kick out, or fall, just let go of it. Your leash (attached to the foot) will make sure you can grab it as soon as it is safe to do so.
Safety is paramount here, and just like surfing, when we kicked off our kiting experience in the afternoon, we practiced flying our kites on the beach before being allowed in the water.
After pulling on our harnesses at the Explora Watersports base, we were back on the beach to learn all we needed to fulfil our kitesurfing aspirations.
Kite and wind theory are the basic knowledge your kitesurfing lessons will cover.
This is where you learn about where the wind comes from, the direction of it in relation to the beach, and why the wind window is the perfect condition to kite in.
The next step is setting up the kite lines and connecting them to your harness. Nasser had each one us do this at least twice to see if we were competent.
Finally, we were instructed on how to use the bar as well as how to both power and depower it.
And yes, you guessed it. Nasser made us go through performing each task before we were able to have a go ourselves.
Just as well. I needed to use all the safety measures when I took control of the bar – and that was still on land.
The power of a kite is immense so you need to trust it and work with the wind.
Becoming tense will only make navigating the kite harder, as any learner will soon understand.
But if you relax, it will work like magic. Once I managed to get my head around this, I felt I was gliding with the kite.
Day two, and with stretches and preparation out of the way, it was back to practicing all we had learned so far.
If you stay longer, the course will also cover how to body drag upwind, power stokes, water start with assistance, water start solo (the fun bit), self-rescue technique and riding downward.
They usually recommend five days of intensive training over a week for those who want to progress quickly.
But with just two days of training, I only managed as far as the beach training.
Still, its not hard to see why the sport has so many fans.
Other things to do in Essouria:
Essaouira has a hippie vibe to it and is somewhat a magnet for the creative-minded.
Since the 18th century, actors, artists, poets and musicians have graced the bustling streets, lined with local handicrafts.
Immerse yourself in the bustling medina – its hectic but theres lots of bargains to be had if you can haggle.
When it comes to food, fish features prominently. I can highly recommend Mega Loft.
Theres regular live music as well as unique décor; think Berber baskets lining the walls and ceilings, and chandeliers made from teapots.
Where to stay in Essouaria and how to get there:
I stayed at KiteWorldWides Riad, which is located in the heart of the medina, a short 15-minute walk from the surf school
The kitesurfing lesson package start from £650pp based on two people sharing, excluding flights.
It includes return transfer from Essaouira Airport, seven nights accommodation on a bed and breakfasst basis, 12-hour kite course, kite rental at the end of the course, rescue service, SUP rental and a couple of evening meals.
The nearest airport is Essaouira and flights from Luton airport with EasyJet start from £60 return.
(Top picture: Getty)