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  • jwmarkvoort

Day 9: The final downwinder

Updated: Oct 6, 2019

Today we had one of the longest downwinders ahead of us, having to cover a distance of more than 100km. It proved to be a challenging day for the group kitesurfing, but also the support team driving the cars.

We had to leave Casa de Caboclo with limited packing, because we only had jetski and boat support during the first 30km of the distance. We prepared well for this the day, separating the kite gear from the main lugguage. The main lugguage was taken by boat and brought to the cars in the city of Parnaiba early in the morning. This was important, because the support team had to drive 3 hours to the first pitstop. The group kitesurfing is often quicker than the support team, as the distances to cover by car via inland roads are often more than by sea.

We were picked up by boat as well around 10am, first having a 2 hour boat ride through the Parnaiba Mangroves ahead of us. Around midday we arrived at the sea at the same location where we stopped the day before our downwinder. luckily with enough wind to start straight away. Wind consistency in the Mangroves is not a guarantee, so everyone had to get ready as quick as possible. Of course the team was motivated by our guide Marques (Iron Macho) “Kite, kite, kite, go ocean now!!”

Everyone was kiting with bigger size kites, to make sure that we could bridge the first part of the downwinder. There was a reasonable chance that there was very little wind in this first section, where we only had jetski support at sea. This would mean, if the wind dropped, we had to walk.

The wind however was with us today, with an easy crossing between islands and passing fisherman preparing their daily catch, we surfed straight into a secret spot with probably the most magical waves encountered during this trip. Sufficient wind allowed us to surf glassy waves breaking around the point of the sand bank. These conditions proved it was a wise decision to bring your surfboard to Brasil.

We had ample time at this spot however, because we had a relatively late start, knowing we had to kite a total of more than 100km (sunset deadline is around 17:30hrs).

At our first pitstop we were welcomed by a surprise by our guide Marques. He showed us some ancient fisherman knowledge and ritual that would bring us fortune to complete today’s downwinder. Some alluvial clays were deposited on the sandbanks to the north of the mangroves. By ritual we covered our faces and body with mud to protect our skin from the strong sun exposure.

A short pitstop was only possible as we had to keep going and cover more distance. At the next pitstop we would have full support again from the cars and buggy. The wind picked up, so we were well able to keep our average speed above the required average. This was difficult in first, as we had to cross a very choppy river mouth. In choppy waters it is hard to read the sea and choose course and we had to keep up with this for over 15 kilometres. After we crossed the river mouth we entered into very flat water, knowing this surfboards were already changed for twintip kiteboards. With the twintip boards we were able to race and get speeds up to 60kmh. Some of use regained the joy of riding the twintip board again. The feeling of going fast, but being in full control, cannot be described with words.

Arriving at the second pitstop in Tutoya only at 16:00hrs, we had a decision to make. Do we go ahead, knowing we still had to cover a 30km distance, being more tired, with 1.5hrs to go until sunset. Or stop and go by car. After a short risk assessment, the people feeling strong continued. Refuelled with fruits and water, we kept going. Racing flat waters, running over sandbanks, chasing the sunset.

The last section, was a long stretch from Paulino Neves to Atins. The full stretch was covered with onshore wind turbines. Although we would rather like to see them offshore, this proved a fantastic way to make the last and very tiring downwinder. At the end of the day we figured out that most of us counted the windturbines, knowing the last turbine on the horizon was the finish line. (red: we did debate the exact amount counted). With the wind direction being favourable, we could kitesurf in one straight line to the finish. Arriving just after sunset, we stopped before the ‘Zone the Muerta’, a section along the beach named by the locals due to it having no wind and lots of dead mangroves sticking out of the water (or just below the water surface). This is exactly why you need to bring a guide with local knowledge. Having landed the kites on the beach, we started to realise that we had just finished the downwinder from Fortaleza to Atins, covering over 700km in 9 days. What a performance! Everyone was extremely exhausted, but staying together as one team, we made it!

It was now time to get to the hotel in Atins, where during previous stops we ended very close to the hotel. This day was different. First we had to wait for the cars, it was already pitch black around 18:00 when the cars arrived. Having packed the cars, we drove along the high waterline of the beach to the ferry pond that would bring us to the other side of the river in Atins. This was a spectacular ride, seeing small crab fish moving towards the sea through the intertidal zone in the headlights of the car.

Arriving at the ferry pond, we could only transport ourselves and our gear. The cars and buggy stayed on south side of the river. This meant all gear had to be moved from the cars, into the boat…again! With a boat packed with gear and people, we crossed in the dark to the north side of the river to the town of Atins. It was not safe to moor on the jetty at the Villa Guará where we stay the next two days. The captain of the boat therefore brought us to a safe jetty more inland. Via our guides, two landcruisers were arranged imminently. Of course we had to change our gear from boat to car…..again! With our last bit of energy left we arrived at the Pousada. Everyone was done for the day, tired and very hungry. The day was absolutely amazing, finishing off with 5x XXL wood oven baked pizza’s, each pizza enough food for 2 people, ofcourse we ate this with just the 6 of us.

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