Date 1-5 July
Style Elemental acrobatics
Setting Andalucian surf
On the southern tip of Spain, Tarifa has rising kudos as a sun-kissed weekend party town and is now a hot spot for windsurfers and kitesurfers – the Strait of Gibraltar channels perfect, warm winds right onto the sandy beaches here. Since 2005, it has hosted a leg of the Professional Kiteboard Riders Association World Tour on its Valdevaqueros beach. The world’s best kiteboarders plus accompanying rad dudes, surfer girls and adrenalin junkies descend for a week in September, alongside the boho-luxe crowd who love this part of Spain. The competition has three sections: the Freestyle, which appraises technical difficulty and innovation; the Big Air Tricks, which is about how high you can fly; and the Boardercross slalom, which is all about speed. As crowds gather on the beach to gasp at the spectacular aqua-aerobatic circus, the wind riders’ daredevil energy breezes into the beach shacks and tapas bars of this white washed town, creating a fiesta atmosphere throughout the tournament.
Event highlight Try to catch former champions Aaron Hadlow and Kevin Langeree in action if they make it to the finals – they’ll be flying up to 20 metres into the air and scudding across the waves at speeds reaching 80 kilometres an hour.
IN THE KNOW
Head count About 1,000 specators pack the shoreline.
Packing tips A windbreak and a Gore-tex jacket might come in handy if the wind picks up – and it will. If you fancy looking the part and you don’t have the obligatory beads/ board shorts/kaftan in your wardrobe, head to Calle Batalla del Salado in Tarifa, which is lined with surfwear shops and boutiques selling hip local brands such as Mala Mujer.
Bar chat Brits in a particularly patriotic mood might feel the urge to remind one another of Nelson’s victory at the Cape of Trafalgar, only a few kilometres away. Other popular topics include the magical mud at Punta Paloma beach, and the notorious Levante and Poniente winds, which are said to send the locals loco.
DOS & DON’TS
• Do tan and tone up before you go, to minimise self-consciousness among all those buff teenage champs.
• Do learn about the riders and lingo so you can speak knowledgeably about Aaron’s incredible ‘aerial back to blind’, instead of just oohing and aahing. (Get the lowdown at www.pkra.info – click on ‘riders’ profiles’ and ‘terminology and trick definitions’.)
• Do ditch your usual beverage of choice for a fino or a tinto de verano (red wine, Martini Rosso, lemonade, lemon and ice).
• Don’t try kitesurfing yourself when the Levante is up, or you might end up in the middle of the Atlantic.
• Fancy a go? A 10-hour beginner’s course at the Club Mistral costs about €280.
NEED TO KNOW
Getting there Fly to Jerez, Gibraltar or Málaga – 120km, 40km and 150km from Tarifa respectively. It’s best to hire a car at the airport, as Valdevaqueros and Tarifa’s other glorious beaches (such as Los Lances and Punta Paloma) are several kilometres out of town and the public transport system in this part of Spain is not great.
Children Tarifa’s broad, sandy shores go down a treat with kids, and there are lessons for any children with ambitions to join the PKRA World Tour in years to come.
Parking There’s a free car park alongside the beach.
Food & Drink Hotel Valdevaqueros, which is virtually on the sand, serves Spanish favourites. Top bars in the area include the one at Explora, opposite Valdevaqueros beach (+34 956 689 132), and, in town, at the Misiana hotel (+34 956 627 083). La Ruina, also in Tarifa, is a perennial favourite for drinking and dancing. Fill your belly with one of the lamb tagines or Thai curries at Souk Tarifa on Calle Mar Tirreno (+34 956 627 065); Anca Curro on Calle Morena de Mora and Los Melli on Plaza Gúzman el Bueno are great for tapas.
We’re keeping a close eye on the international event calendar, so watch this space every month for more insider info on inspiring shenanigans around the world.