Kimros 2005 – An unlikely sea kayaking symposium
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What locations would occur to you if you were asked “Where are sea kayaking symposiums held”? I’d bet that Wales and Scotland are among your immediate answers. Abroad? Well, undoubtedly there are lots in the States. I’d be very surprised though if anyone came up with Ibiza. But yes, that’s where I am now, at Kimros 2005, an international sea kayaking “concentración” in Ibiza. What’s more, this has a fantastic, laid back atmosphere. It’s warm, everyone is enjoying themselves and the food’s great.
We’re in Cala Carbó which, like all Ibizan beaches is populated with blue and green sunloungers. Nevertheless, that doesn’t detract from the fact that this is one of the prettiest little coves on Ibiza. The paddling’s all over and I’m with Toño Calderon and 70 others enjoying a (very) late lunch and a glass or two of wine in the beachside Bar Restaurante Can Vincent.
Kimros 2005 is the fourth, annual, weekend event organised by Toño Calderon, owner and head coach of Ibikayak, the biggest sea kayaking school on Ibiza. He’s a passionate paddler and (amazingly) seemingly keener on promoting paddling in Ibiza than taking money from tourists. Indeed, chatting over a great paella, he’s adamant, “I run courses for school children, individuals and small groups but NOT for tourists”. That’s not to say that Toño’s uninterested in paddling with us Brits. Indeed, quite the reverse, as a paddler that’s your passport to Toño’s expertise. His attitude is more a reflection of the kind of tourist Ibiza usually attracts.
Asked to recommend the best time of year to paddle in Ibiza, Toño is just as certain. “Don’t come in July or August. Undoubtedly the best months are May and June or September and October”. He’s probably the best source of information on paddling and is more than happy to rent kayaks to experienced paddlers. He’ll also even help with shuttles if necessary!
The classic “ibicenca” paddle is ‘round the whole island. The north coast is undoubtedly wilder and more beautiful but Toño is clearly fond of the southern half of the island which gives more options in bad weather and has some spectacular, smaller islands offshore. Some, I can tell you from personal experience, with stunning cliffs and huge bird colonies. A paddle ‘round Ibiza is easily achievable in a week. A slightly shorter paddle but again one highly recommended by Toño is a paddle around the island of Formentera. Although it’s becoming more commercialised, there are still some wild areas. He’d usually recommend doing this over five days which would include the paddle over from Ibiza. Toño is animated about the huge caves on Formentera and describes Cap de Barbaria and La Mola as potentially dangerous. “There’s nothing between them and North Africa. The cliffs are high and the waves can be big ”. Somewhat sheepishly he remembers that British paddlers are probably used to biggish waves, but the point is well made – don’t underestimate what can be a committing paddle.
Ibikayak have a large fleet of boats that include Rainbow Lasers, Prijon Seayaks and some Scandinavian Hasle kayaks. Rental prices start around 30euros per day assuming that you’ll want a boats for 3 or more days. With so much great paddling to be had you’d be daft to paddle for less! However just hiring boats is NOT what I would recommend. Without a shadow of doubt arrange for Toño to guide you. This adds a bit to the price (exactly how much depends whether boat or car support is needed) but will add hugely to how much you get out of the trip. Local knowledge is a wonderful thing and Toño has it in spades. He’ll be able to give a geographical, geological and historical perspective that would be otherwise impossible to replicate. Identifying the best caves to explore, finding ancient Phoenician ruins and easing the otherwise potentially tricky problem of sleeping on the beaches, Toño can help with the lot.
Back to Kimros, the symposium. Toño needs to crack on with the organisation. Also on my table is the local councillor in charge of tourism. He’s representing the San Josep Ayuntamiento or Council who are one of the sponsors of Kimros. What’s more they have produced a guide to sea kayaking around their part of the Ibizan coastline. The Council see sea kayaking as an opportunity to encourage a different kind of tourist. I struggle to think of any such parallel here in the UK.
Of the 70 paddlers at Kimros most are from the Spanish mainland and around 25 or so from Ibiza. The paddler from furthest afield is Howard Fairbank from Cape Town who enthuses about a great the weekend “it’s been a top class paddle”. He says, and continues “yesterday we paddled from Playa d’en Bossa and stopped overnight at Cala Jondall while today we’d hoped to paddle all the way round Cap Jueu but the wind proved just too strong, the waves too big”. Proof positive that the Mediterranean does not always live up to its mill-pond image although this is the first year that the Kimros route has not been completed.
The symposium closes with the biggest raffle I’ve seen at a canoeing event with enough prizes for everyone. The star prizes include a brand new Rainbow Laser and a glassfibre kayak made my Riumar, a Spanish manufacturer. The excitement mounts as the prizes get bigger. It’s a moment of true hilarity when the local Councillor wins the kayak to chants of “fix, fix” but these change to “presidente, presidente” when he puts the kayak back into the draw where it is then won by a Spanish girl who’s not entirely sure how she’s going to store it in her flat!
Kimros 2006 will take place on the first weekend of October and Toño is looking forward to greeting British paddlers. At around 60 euros including food it’s hugely good value. To book a place or set up your own trip to Ibiza contact him via his website at www.ibikayak.com or Toño speaks excellent English and you can phone him on 00 34 616 89 65 94