Two ladies, one insane trip, and hundreds of pounds of gear. Dominique Granger and Colleen Carroll traveled to Thailand, the Philipines, Boracay, and Seco Island to check out the kiteboarding and cable riding in the region. Women’s Adventure caught up with Dominique for a Q&A about the trip.
Where exactly did you go in Southeast Asia? Where were those jumps/water features in the video? Were there a lot of other people using them or did you have them all to yourself?
Dominique: We went to Thailand and Philippines. For Thailand, we spent some time in Pran Buri at Kite Cable Thailand (about 3 hours away from Bangkok) and at Thai Wake Park, just outside of Bangkok. In the Philippines, we first went to CamSur Watersports Complex (CWC) in the province of Camsur, then met our local friend Paula Rosales on the island of Boracay for two weeks of kiteboarding, during which we did a little trip to Seco Island (the place with very white sand a super blue water in the video).
Those jumps/features are in the cable parks. Depending on the spot and the day, there were more (or fewer) people using them. Generally speaking, the parks are busier during the weekends, when the local people come ride. These kind of features do exist for kiteboarding, but not in many locations, unfortunately. This time, riding on the features was only while wakeboarding.
What is cable riding—is it similar to wakeboarding?
Dominique: Cable riding is pretty much the same as wakeboarding, except that the pull comes from a cable instead of a boat. One advantage is that the cable systems are electric, so they don’t burn fuel like a wake boat does. The other big advantage is that many people can ride at once. While riding, the biggest difference is that you don’t have the wake of the boat to ride on or to use. Most people who ride at cable parks ride on features, but people can still do “air tricks” where you only use the tension you create in the rope/on the cable to get some air and do a trick (rotations, grabs and other combos) in the air before landing back on the water. Cables can be two tower systems (where you go back and forth) or a four-, five-, or six-tower system (where you go around in a “circle” on a much bigger lake).
Was it hard to travel with your gear? Did you have any funny experiences or stories about hauling all the gear around?
Dominique: It is definitely challenging to travel with all our gear! My gear bag weighed at least 50 pounds—Colleen’s, too, and that’s without our regular luggage, computers, etc. In total, I think I was carrying my weight in gear!
The most frustrating part about traveling with kite (and wakeboard) gear is the extra baggage fees. Somehow, for most airlines, golf gear travels for free but most other things end up costing at least $100 U.S. one way. When we left from CWC to go to Boracay, we went to the airport in Naga, where we had to take a small plane to Manila then another one to Boracay. When we got to the airport, the lady at the counter told us we had to pay extra for our gear bags (oh surprise), about $200 total for both of us. After trying to argue a bit (we have to), we were resigned to pay the amount requested. We put our credit cards on the counter and the lady told us “Sorry, we don’t take credit cards.” What? What airline counter doesn’t take credit cards? We—of course—don’t have the amount in cash on us, so we look around for an ATM. Well, we quickly learned that there is no ATM in Naga Airport. We were told there was one just around the corner (of course there wasn’t) so we asked the security guards for directions. They ended up just laughing at us for wanting to walk there. Once we understood that there was no walking possible, we hopped in a cab and went to the closest ATM. Out of order. The driver said “I know where there is a working one!” so we drove all the way across town, to another ATM. Doesn’t work. The next one either. Or the next one, or the following one. It took us a good hour to find a working ATM, which ended up being at the cable park! We managed to catch our flight (good thing we were there in advance) and now we laugh at the whole thing, but at the time, it was quite stressful.
How did these places compare to the places you usually kiteboard or wakeboard? Where do you usually go and train?
Dominique: For the wakeboarding, we couldn’t ask for better. The parks we went to are some of the best in the world, and we had the chance to ride with amazing riders in all the places we went. One of the things that struck us the most was the amount of girls on the water—so many more than what we’re used to seeing here, and (riding) at a high level too. Most of them, like us, came from elsewhere in the world, except for a few local girls who were also killing it. So motivating!
For kiteboarding, it’s always hit or miss—you need the wind and the tide to cooperate. We were very lucky in Boracay, but that beach is very popular, which means it’s also very crowded. We still managed to find some little gems—Seco Island, among others, where the water is perfectly flat and the wind is nice and consistent. We were both spoiled as far as conditions over the last few years, having the chance to live and ride in places like Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, or Hood River in Oregon. Colleen (Carroll) does the annual “pilgrimage” to Brazil in the fall: that is probably the best place to train during that season when you are a kiteboarder. The water is super flat in the lagoons and the wind blows every single day for a few months.
How did you both pick up the sport, and what do you love most about it? How hard is it to get to the level you guys are—I assume it takes a lot of training and practice. How many years have you been at it? Do you do other sports that help you with these sports?
Dominique: I started kiteboarding in 2008, during a trip to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina. My boyfriend at the time was kiting, and tried to teach me, which is always a mistake (ladies, take a proper instructor). I also decided to get into that sport to get over a fear of water.
Colleen started kiteboarding with her family, in the Pacific Northwest: “Growing up, we would visit Hood River every weekend to go windsurfing; so when we saw kiting, we had to try it. I had windsurfed a bit and spent a ton of time doing board sports as a kid, so I took to it quickly once I started doing it more regularly.”
Just like any sport, it takes dedication to keep the progression going. If you only kite one week per year, your progression isn’t likely to go off the charts … but you can still have a ton of fun. Depending of what kind of background you have and how athletic you are, you may pick it up and progress very quickly. As for other sports, wakeboarding is probably the best crossover training—and that’s why we try to do it as much as we possibly can. But the more time you have your feet on any type of board, the better the progression will be.
If you want to follow our adventures, follow us on facebook and instagram!