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Discover Fanø - be free!

We have received a great trip report from Carsten from ewigkite.de. He joined kite- and landboard riders Emmanuel Norman and Pascal Lohmann on a trip to the danish island Fanø and finds a paradise for all kite-related sports. Here is their trip report - thanks Carsten, Emmanuel and Pascal for sharing this!

It is just before midnight. The ferry casts off for the last time today. We have left our workaday life behind us at the German-Danish border at least 150 km ago. After a 15 minutes ferry-trip and a short search in the dark we find our holiday home. A few other kitesurfers are already there. The BBQ is started once again. A good start! Altogether eight kite-enthusiasts share the summer cottage in the midst of the dunes at the south part of the island. During the normal course of life, every now and then, we all dream about distant kite destinations that promise the paradise on earth. This time though we are searching our luck right on the doorstep at our Danish neighbors. And we are going to find it!

Two kitesurfers with championship titles are on the way with us: Pascal Lohmann and Emmanuel Norman. The two of them want to practice. We others mostly want to spend some kite holidays together. The reason for our holiday at this time and place is the 28. International kite Fliers Meeting Fanø 2012. The biggest European single line kite festival takes place on the apparently endless beach of the North Sea Island once a year. Our thing is clearly powerkiting. Although it is impressive to watch thousands of delicate mostly handmade single line kites in the sky during the day.

For one week in the middle of June, the International kite-scene represents itself with a colorful hustle and bustle once again. It is quite amazing how many different figures the kite fans design and sew in their homes and cellars during the winter season to present them at Fanø: giant fish and octopuses, flying beer bottles and mega bowls and several other fantasy figures. Quite often kites with the size of 50 square meters hover through the sky. 

We unpack our much smaller kites at the buggy-beach a few km further to the south.  From 6 to 21 m² we have everything with us that can delight a kiters hearth. Every day we drive with our kite-mobiles and caravans to the round about one kilometer of beach where the powerkiters and sand yachts cavort. The firm beach of the west coast can be driven on by car from the north to the south. Along the dunes the cars mostly move at the required 30 km/h speed limit. Sometimes one can watch vehicles that are doing almost 80 km/h. The drivers obviously can’t bear to be overtaken by people like Pascal and Norman. When there is an onshore wind blowing the buggy drivers can go for about 5 km in one direction. Pascal screws together his buggy and unpacks his 19er speed de Luxe. Slowly he warms up to suddenly show how far his speed meter goes up. Speeding it up on best underground for kilometers is making Pascal apparently very happy. Seldom one sees him taking a break. He uses the days on Fanø for his personnel championship training. The broad and solid beach which is only sometimes interrupted by uneven sand drifts, guarantees him and us hobby buggy drivers ideal conditions for drifting and all sorts of turning maneuvers. We let our four buggies roll strongly and go to the limits of ours and the materials capacity. There are dozens of buggies on their way but it’s never cramped. 

After a coffee at the beach some of us get ready for the water. Thankfully we have a tough fully-automatic-bean-to-cup-Coffey-maker that can abide the fluctuations of our generator. Usually the wind blows onshore, sometimes sideshore. During the week the wind gauge shows varying values.  From 10 to 21 knots - it’s all there. Only on one day it is noticeable rough. Four of us are enthusiastic Kite surfers but Emanuel beats us all: before we have even rolled out our kites he is already working on his speed. He operates with passion in a distance of about 100 meters to the beach. The waves are more drawn-out further out than closer to the beach. Emanuel does well with that and pushes his kite hardly. Every now and then he interrupts his speed sessions for a skillful jump unit. By the standing out middle-finn one can see that Emanuel uses his “Flyrace”, even from the distance. Emanuel obviously doesn’t need any audience, today. He is just concentrated. 

Kitesurfers that don’t do competitions and consider themselves as amateurs or advanced learners also get their money’s worth on Fanø. With incoming or outgoing tide, stretched patches of shallow waters develop off the coast for two to three hours. Beginners and flat-water-freaks find an ideal place: The water is knee-deep and very calm in spite of the wind. It wouldn’t take much for calling it as smooth as glass. One of us leaves for Fanø Bath in the North of the island. He does 15 knots and only needs to tack twice. Wind and tide mean particular well on that day: six kilometers of flat piste. Hundreds of single line kites turn the clear blue skies over Fanø into a fanciful tableau. The way back is even more relaxed - Just gliding-back. A kite surfer beaming with happiness arrives at the buggy beach after some time. And, since it was so nice and the water is still calm and smooth, he practices a few more tricks. Moves, tried in choppy water in vain are much easier in Fanø’s flat waters. If Emanuel, who watched a few jumps and tricks from the beach gives helpful advice it is even easier. 

From 20 meters behind the shoreline there are stretched out, slowly building up waves, or – when the win rises, sometimes stronger waves that demand more skills. The kitesurf-area that extends for kilometers offers never-ending space and invites to a solid “downwinder” now and then. Fanø, there’s plenty of space on the water and plenty of freedom for kitesurfers!

Sometimes Pascal and Emanuel begin land sessions with parallel landboarding or buggying. Apparently they have lots of fun coming this close to another that at least their hands touch while they are driving and doing their moves and tricks. Fortunately there are no accidents. These two are just great! Afterwards one can see the two of them on their landboards for hours. They do tempo and slides or acrobatic moves and handlepasses and all the tricks which names the normal audience doesn’t know. Fanø means also freedom for landboarders! 

Most nights our group is the last on the beach. After a last jaunt to the water, a last buggy drive, a last landboard session, we leave the beach at 10.30 pm at sunset. At the latest now the feeling of absolute freedom is so fulfilling that one wants to kite through the whole night. But tomorrow is another day. The next day Emanuel wants to “rock” the bunker. The concrete block is a reminder of the war. We found it the day before at the edge of the dunes. Before our expedition we have to find out if the bunker is in the fenced off sanctuary for breeding birds. The integrity of creation is a major issue on Fanø, which is good. The bunker is freely accessed. Emmanuel is very excited, unpacks his kite, puts the board under his feet and speeds it up for an hour: Up the bunker, down the bunker, upright and sidewise along the bunker, jumps between bunker and adjoining ramp. Quite impressive what one can do with a kite and a landboard on a bunker.

For one week Fanø represented itself as an island of unlimited opportunities for kiters. Furthermore, none of us forgot the message on the bunker, not even when we had already passed the Danish-German border and were heading back towards our everyday life:

“Be free!”