May 2019


Up, Up And Away In Kalpitiya
May 2019




During the summer and winter seasons, colourful kites can be seen over the Puttalam Lagoon and the sea.

From May to October, and December to February, the sky above Kalpitiya is dotted with colourful kites that propel kitesurfers across the sea and the lagoon.

Words: Gayathri Kothalawala.
Photography: BT Images.

Sailors, seafarers, and explorers of centuries past harnessed the energy of the wind to sail across the seas - some for trade, others in search of novel possibilities in new lands. In the 21st century, it has become a kitesurfer's best friend, for without it, it is not possible to enjoy this adrenaline-fuelled sport.

Kitesurfing is an extreme sport that was introduced to Sri Lanka in the early 2000s, and since then, the sport has taken wings. In Kalpitiya, there are several kitesurfing schools that provide comprehensive training to both Sri Lankan and foreign enthusiasts. While the wind whipped our clothes and played with our hair, we watched as experienced kite surfers masterfully whiz through the Puttalam Lagoon, sometimes performing daring somersaults in the air.

The Kalpitiya peninsula, flanked by both the Indian Ocean and the Puttalam Lagoon, is a popular kitesurfing destination in Sri Lanka. With two seasons - summer (May to October), and winter (December to late February) - it is a hot spot for both amateurs and professionals. While the sea, with its constant waves upon the surface, is ideal for the more experienced individuals, the calm and shallow lagoon is suited for beginners and enthusiasts to gain control of the art.

The SPI foil kite used for the sport is bordered by an inflatable tube, through which air is pumped. The kite is attached via lines to the bar - which is connected through a harness to the individual - that is used to control it. A board helps the kitesurfer to skim across the water with ease. The size of the kite used and the speed in which the surfer travels are determined by the strength of the wind. The stronger winds require a kite with a small wingspan, while a wider wingspan is perfect for small gusts of wind.

There is a sense of freedom to kitesurfing and watching the activity can be breathtaking. Towards late afternoon, there were several instructors who were guiding beginners in the lagoon, and we observed their attempts at kitesurfing. The professionals had made everything look seamless. However, as we watched the beginners, we realised that kitesurfing requires concentration. On one hand, your upper body must guide the kite. On the other, your feet must navigate the board through the water. And both of these must be done simultaneously. Depending on their proficiency, previous experience in water sports, such as windboarding, snowboarding or surfing can be useful for a person beginning to kitesurf. However, at least nine to twelve hours of training time should be spent to grasp the technique. Training is done on flat water, which is easier for an inexperienced person to navigate. While it is an enjoyable extreme sport, kitesurfers must also keep their safety in mind. A good understanding of the direction of the wind, and control of the kite is necessary before someone can attempt to perform impressive moves.

Watching the kitesurfers gliding over the water gracefully, we were spellbound. With ideal wind conditions for the better part of the year and the lagoon and sea situated nearby, Kalpitiya will come to life in the coming months as adventurous people arrive to engage in this exciting sport.

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    The strong winds in Kalpitiya are also ideal for windboarding.

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    Enjoy an adrenaline-fuelled sport at the Puttalam Lagoon.

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    Kalpitiya is a hotspot for both amateur and professional kitesurfers.

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    The nearby wind turbines add to the charm of the setting.

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