This summer, Cabrinha Marketing Manager and freestyle legend James Boulding returned to Egypt's pristine lagoons and went on the first ever Kite Voyage, hosted by Cabrinha Egypt. Let's say, the Red Sea delivered. The Kite Voyage took James to pristine and untouched islands that exhibit some of the best kitesurfing conditions in the world. We talked to Cabrinha's Egypt distributor Omar Fattah about his perspective on the kite industry in his country and learned why he quit his job and pursue his passion for the sport.
What is special about kitesurfing in Egypt?
You, your wife, all your family and friends are all so passionate about kitesurfing. What is it about the sport you love so much?
I grew up in a family that loved Watersports. My father was a national waterski champion and I can remember him teaching me to water ski even before even started learning how to swim. Kitesurfing took Watersports to a whole different level. With its unique characteristics of being a sport for all ages, playable in a wide wind range, offering multiple disciplines, and simply being able to spend hours in the water every day kiting without feeling tired creates the perfect setup for kiters to go out and spend the whole day at the beach doing nothing but kitesurfing. Therefore it became sort of a hangout and community builder vs other sports that you could only enjoy for an hour before the fun coming to a quick end. The sport is neither too easy or too hard to bore its riders; pick a trick and spend a few days practicing it and before you know it you will be progressing like a star. The sport looks so attractive to bystanders and immediately grabs everyones attention when they see a kiter jump several meters in the air and gliding to a soft landing. Who wouldn’t love doing that??
Since I learned how to kitesurf back in 2005, its been all I think of. It’s like whenever I am not kitesurfing, im thinking of when the next session is and what to tricks to attempt. Being out there in the water and so close to nature’s elements, the sport to me is like a form of meditation. You forget about all the stresses of daily life and focus just on this one session. Sometimes it’s about going out on the water with a trick in mind that you want to practice and master in 20-30 knots of wind, while other times it’s enjoying the silent serenity of riding a foil board in as low as 7 knots and still managing to reach blazing speeds. Every session when my feet first touch the water, there is like an inner grin on my face saying “honey I’m home, now let’s have some fun :)”. To understand this addiction, you must try the sport yourself. My wife was never into water sports until we met 5 years ago and I introduced her to the sport and the community. Ever since, we’ve always been longing to move to a place by the beach where we can kite at every chance we get.
You now live and operate from El Gouna which seems to be a real hotspot for kitesurfing in Egypt. Can you tell me about life and kitesurfing there?
I recently quit my corporate job at an Oil and Gas company and decided to pursue my life long dream of working full time in the kitesurfing industry and doing my utmost best to promote a sport that will for sure transform the lives of its beholder. My wife also decided to quit her corporate job at an FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) Company and join me in managing Cabrinha Egypt. As a Cabrinha distributor to kite schools all over Egypt, we chose to move to El Gouna to be closer to the majority of our clients in order to provide an unparalleled service. El Gouna provides the blend of city and beach life. Most facilities are available such as schools, hospitals, supermarkets, office spaces, etc… Coming from my hometown Cairo, it was a relief to escape the pollution and traffic and settle in the calm and relaxed environment found in El Gouna.
El Gouna is considered the kitesurfing hub of Egypt, where the sport first launched in the Egypt market about 15 years ago. It’s a gated community that sits along the Red Sea coast, 30 kms away from the city of Hurghada. It is considered a city of itself with a multitude of resorts and residential compounds, 2 international marinas, restaurants, bars, and an amazing night life. It is a very popular destination for tourists due to the endless provision of water sports, resorts, excursions both land and sea, nearby airport, and safety. El Gouna hosts around 10 kite schools ranging in size and spot conditions. Kite safaris are frequently offered to kite off of the nearby islands. Some operators offer daily trips while others stay up to 1 week out at sea. El Gouna is currently buzzing with tourists all year round and fully booked most of the time.
You recently finished the first ever Cabrinha Kite Voyage. What was the idea behind this and how was the reaction of everyone on board?
The Kite Voyage is a Kite Safari that takes you on a 3-7 day trip out at sea visiting some of the most pristine islands in the Red Sea with unmatched kiting conditions. Flat and crystal clear waters, strong winds, and amazing company is what this voyage is all about. The yacht accommodates up to 26 people and provides both wind and no wind activities. Each day the yacht travels to different spots and islands to exhibit a variety of secluded kitesurfing beaches. Non wind activities include wake boarding behind our 2 Zodiacs, snorkeling, stand up paddling, volley ball, yoga, bonfire, and not to mention some amazing parties at night.
The concept of the Kite Voyage is to provide a sense of community and belonging to those that ride Cabrinha. We want kiters to not only buy Cabrinha because its one of the best and most reputable brands worldwide but also to have privileged access to a series of trips and events that will eventually become some of the most sought after in the kite surfing community. The Kite Voyage is hosted by the Cabrinha Egypt Team, offers the latest kites and boards for everyone to try and test out free of charge, has certified kite instructors on board to provide beginner / progression / and foiling lessons, and hosts an international Cabrinha Rider as the cherry on top showing off some of the most challenging and technical tricks as well as providing progression tips to those looking to push their riding. We teamed up with one of the best Kite Safari providers in Egypt, Kivers, and The Mala for morning and evening Yoga sessions to make the 1st edition of the Kite Voyage nothing but a success. This time, we had the privilege of hosting Pro Rider, Marketing and Team Manager James Boulding to run the progression workshop. The reaction of those onboard was simply nagging to extend the 4 day trip for another few days. Following our first voyage, we received global feedback on how awesome the trip looked after we released the video edit. We received a lot of sales on the all new Moto after people had savored it for a few days. \Everyone was asking about dates for the next trip. Rest assured, we are busy planning a full year schedule and will announce dates soon.
Tourism in Egypt has had its fair share of bad press in the media but seems like its back on the rise and prospering as tourists have regained confidence in the destination. What would you say to someone who is nervous of booking their next kite holiday there?
In 2011, Egypt faced a long overdue revolution and went through radical changes over the following years. We actually appreciate the existence and proud of this revolution as it has forced a lot of reform in the country. Currently, the economy is growing back to better than where it was before and tourism is at an all high. Safety and security measures have strictly increased to ensure a peaceful trip for all tourists and boost back its long known tourism sector. The country is stable now and even if any political events take place, they usually do so in the main cities and are condensed in one square, so there is no way tourists will feel any of these events, happening hundreds of kilometers away, affecting their holidays. Unfortunately, with media being so powerful these days, the smallest of events makes the world feel all of Egypt is under attack.
The Red Sea coast line, whether on the Egypt or Sinai side, provides plenty of kiting and diving destinations. From campsites right by the sea to fancy resorts, Egypt has it all. With the proper research done online, you will be set for a great trip with one of the best value for many packages out there. I frequently meet European tourists that visit El Gouna up to 7 times a year, with some of them even spending a few months there at a time. I would be more than glad to aid any interested tourists in planning a visit to Egypt. Feel free to contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
You’ve been instrumental in growing the local kite scene in Egypt. Can you tell us a little about that?
I started kiting back in 2005, which was a year or two after kiting arrived in Egypt. It was basically how much time I needed to work part time alongside college to save up for my first kiting gear. Ever since, it has been a dominating force in my life. Being one of the first kiters in Egypt, I was one of the people everyone turned to for any queries related to kinging like where to learn and what gear to buy. In 2013 I took up distribution for Cabrinha in Egypt and steadily grew the market through out the tough periods with low tourism. Now that tourism is back and building on our good reputation over the past years, Cabrinha Egypt is becoming the go to kite supplier for existing and emerging kite schools. We focus not only on selling them one of the best brands in the market but also providing an unbeatable after sales service. Aside from supplying kite schools, we have several demo stations around the country, host annual product launch events, sponsor local competitions, and create our own media with our talented in house videographers and editors to promote kitesurfing in our beautiful country.
What Cabrinha setup is your ‘go-to' and why?
Coming from the old days of kiting where jumping high and staying up there as long as possible was all everyone cared about, I grew to become an avid admirer of the air style discipline. A 12m Switchblade with 5m line extensions and a 52cm fixed bar is the perfect kite for me at 75 kgs in up to 25 knots. It gives a great balance of bar pressure and hang time. The line extensions open up the arch of the kite allowing for an increased lift area in the kite canopy and in turn more hang time. I ride a 137cm Tronic board which excels in holding a tight grip in either flat or choppy waters prepping me for launching big lofty airs. The Tronic also carves with immense grip when I decide to ride some of the small waves we have along Egypt’s North Coast. Foiling is also one of the disciplines I have come to love. In light winds, I ride the Contra 15m along with the Double Agent Foil and this setup amazes me with how easy I can ride in wind as low as 7 knots. I can’t wait to try out the all new Hi Rise Speed Foil, which I’m expecting to receive any day now.
Thank you for the insights, Omar. We hope to be back in Egypt soon!
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