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  • Writer's pictureTed Emes

Chasing the Wind: Kitesurfing Waves In Essaouira, Morocco

Updated: Dec 7, 2023

Learning to Kitesurf in the waves
Kitesurfing Session Start

The Kitesurfing Pro and The Nobody

Have you ever been truly amazed by another kitesurfer while on the water?

It’s my first day kitesurfing off the desert coast of Essaouira, Morocco and I’m trying to keep up with local pro Ismail Adarzane. As we sail downwind, I'm in total awe of Ismail as he cranks out continuous strapless freestyle tricks and carves the waves with ease. Ismail is dialled-in with the conditions and I feel like I'm fighting them.

I love kitesurfing and its opportunities for learning, travel and adventure. After watching Ismail kitesurf with such grace and style, I'm driven by learning how to wave sail and progress with it. It's a fun and ambitious idea, which so far, is a lot more of a struggle than I anticipated.

The Opportunity and The Problem

Back in January 2023, I naively started keyboard planning my path to wave sailing glory. After many hours of coffee fuelled research, I happily decided on some adventurous kitesurfing trips: Santa Cruz, California; The Oregon Coast; and Essaouira, Morocco. After putting this itinerary together, the Instagram videos I'd create began occupying my daily thoughts. I even had the music picked-out.

After my first two kitesurfing trips, I better understood what I was chasing, but I couldn't put everything together on the water. It felt similar to that moment when you almost have all the edge pieces of a puzzle together: accomplished yet still a little desperate for the big picture. I needed some coaching.

Welcome to the Desert

Curious Camel On The Beach
Adventure Is All Around

The first day in Essaouira I was so excited to kitesurf waves that I left our tiny seaside apartment in my beach sandals and did an increasingly painful 40 minute flip flop to the shop. I didn't care that I was wearing terrible shoes and hauling a backpack of gear, I just wanted to experience the coastline, the sun and the wind. I was that eager and yes, I needed several pain killers when I got back.

Once I arrived at the Mogasurf shop, Ismail greeted me with a big friendly grin and we quickly got started on our downwind session to the wave break. Despite dreaming of this moment for months, I was sailing terribly and carelessly plowed myself onto the shore after catching a board fin in some shallow water. Dejected, it was time to land my kite and drink some water.

Sitting on the beach with a blank stare, the midday sun was starting to cake the saltwater residue on my forehead and wetsuit. Ismail offered me a seat in the shade, handed me a bottle of water and calmly started talking about wave sailing. In a matter of minutes, Ismail's coaching put things into perspective:

  • Stop thinking so much and just take in all the sights and sounds around you.

  • Find the swell, feel it under the board and practice going rail to rail.

  • Pay attention to what the wave is doing so that you can move with it and not force it.

  • Focus on smooth kite movement and sailing with power.

I looked up and saw Ismail smiling at me with that giant grin and just like that I was snapped back into drive. That's what a good coach can do for you.

I hooked back up to my kite, switched off my brain and turned on my eyes, ears and feet. Ismail’s words could not have been more true as I felt my way through a few runs in the small break. Watch the swell, feel it and work the wave while going down the line. The waves were very small, I sailed them like a rookie but it felt glorious and I can still feel the session in my finger tips.

The Transformation

Back at the Mogasurf Shop
Post Session Smiles

After a few hours of chasing wind and waves, our ATV ride showed up and it was time to go back to the shop. Ismail caught my kite, flashed his grin and enthusiastically said “much better." We packed up the gear, jumped on either side of the quad and blasted our way up the beach, passing strings of camels and horses. As I was leaving the shop, Ismail gave me a fist bump and simply said “Thanks for the session and I'll see you tomorrow.” And just like that, I was stoked for the next episode of the rockstar and the rookie. The pro and the nobody.

This journey to become a wave sailor is a lot more introspective than I thought. From my sessions in Morocco, I understand that my head is getting in the way of experiencing the true joy of kitesurfing waves. Thanks to Ismail, I learned to be more present in the moment and link up with the flow of my surroundings. I now have a perfect reason to just get out there and live it.

So go chase the wind, it’s an adventure.

One Last Thing

If you travel to Essaouira, Morocco, go hook up with Mogasurf and Ismail for some great coaching and gear rental. Ismail is full of enthusiasm for his students and the shop has such an inviting atmosphere to hang out pre & post session. I had a great time and I hope to go back again.

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