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Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim
Coast
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Europe
Extreme
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Francisco Gala
Indian Ocean
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Jim Lafferty
Kenya
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Thrill of Kitesurfing

Among these are kite surfers who are booking holidays to explore Indian Ocean. Francisco Gala, who works at Procter & Gamble as the category leader fabric care in Kenya, is one of the kitesurfers who frequents the Coast to race above the waves as a way of unwinding.He says Diani and Watamu offer the best winds for kitesurfing, six months in a year.

The trade winds brought not only traders in past centuries, they are now blowing in a new crop of tourists at the Coast: water sport enthusiasts. Among these are kite surfers who are booking holidays to explore Indian Ocean. Francisco Gala, who works at Procter & Gamble as the category leader fabric care in Kenya, is one of the kitesurfers who frequents the Coast to race above the waves as a way of unwinding.He says Diani and Watamu offer the best winds for kitesurfing, six months in a year. For him, he sails the wind for fun and not so much for fitness.Kitesurfing is a fun sport where a rider gets to do tricks on the tides while sightseeing the reefs and diverse ecosystems.Francisco started kitesurfing about 10 years ago. He says he was inspired by an over the land trip he took with his parents from Portugal to Morocco. It was in Tarifa, Spain, considered the capital of kitesurfing, that this passion was birthed. Kitesurfing gear is simple and light. All you need is a board, a bar for steering, a kite to sail the wind and a wetsuit. Francisco uses an 11m-sized kite which costs $1,000 (Sh100,000) on average, with the cheaper ones going for $700 (Sh7,000).The kites come in various sizes, depending on the ferocity of the winds, expertise and body weight of the user.He has an international certification which means that he can hire equipment from H2O Extreme, a kite school that organises watersport activities in Diani and also trains newbies. Kite-surfers can also hire the equipment from Tribe Watersports in Watamu.“Kitesurfing is for people of all ages, Barack Obama {the former US president} was a learner. All you need is co-ordination and a knack for fun, to try out new tricks,” says Francisco who grew up playing football and after tearing a knee ligament opted for swimming.

Francisco has long loved extreme water sports. Before he came to Kenya, he worked in Switzerland and he swam in Lake Geneva. He also took part in the famous Bosphorus Cross-Continental Swim, a 6.5 kilometre swimming contest between Asia and Europe that teased his appetite for more.Then he moved to South Africa where he took up boxing that he has been doing for five years. While in Kenya, he gets to spur with a personal trainer just as much as he gets to ride the waves.Francisco, a true globetrotter in every sense of the word, has not lived in his native country Portugal since he graduated from university more than a decade ago. He is been to 90 countries, including Madagascar, Cyprus and Mexico which he visited to a have a feel of their waters.“Kite surfing regularly impacts on my everyday life,” he says.In the beginning, he needed more physical strength to hold the bar for control and steer for direction, but not anymore.Also, kitesurfing is one of the outdoor activities that he uses to make friends and bond. He met his partner on an Air Kenya plane on his way to ride the waves in Diani.Besides giving him an adrenaline rush, Francisco says kitesurfing has taught him discipline, helped him to stay focused at work, and enabled him dive in with his team to meet challenges that arise at the workplace.“I learnt from my former boss and mentor Jim Lafferty that you must create a bucket list that reflects your life as a whole, not just work-life. Approach your private life with the same zeal and enthusiasm as you would your job. Reflect the same discipline and tick off two items every year, add new ones to the 100 things that are on your bucket list and explore the world,” he says.

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