In 2019 the sports club Alto Garda Kite A.S.D. opened it’s doors also to disabled athletes. A short overview.
The kiteboarding season on lake Garda is about to kick off. As most aficionados will know, the area around Torbole and Riva is reserved to windsurfers and sailors only. Reason: The top of the lake belongs to the province of Trento where kiteboarding is forbidden. However a small association in Riva del Garda has found a way to still enjoy some kiting. The clever members just make use of a boat to avoid traffic as well as legal barriers. Whenever Aeolus is in a good mood, they head just far enough to the south to cross the border to the province of Verona … where kiteboarding is allowed. Et Voilà – the session is secured.
Alto Garda Kite is the name of this legendary club. Apart from its Gallic properties (I do see some similarities to Asterix and Obelix), this club stands out with yet another feature – the actual reason of this article …
Kiteboarding with disability
The kitesurfing school within the club is the only one in the entire region of northern Italy and the Alps which offers sitkite lessons. And it does so in an impressive manner. After the team had been briefed in the particularities of adapted kiteboarding, they started with the first courses last year (2018). The consequence: Already in the first season the demand was so high that they had to reject some potential clients … respect!
Despite this I was fortunate enough to be on board on one weekend to experience everything first hand. I was wowed. In spite of flagging winds. Everything seemed coherent: Starting with the infrastructure, followed by the location and last but not least the team, a group of authentically friendly, down-to-earth kite-maniacs.
But let’s have a closer look.
Location and infrastructure
Altogardakite is situated in the marina Porto San Nicolò right next to the tunnel that connects the villages Riva and Torbole. You can park your car right in the marina. If you want and have a permit, you can use one of the parking spaces for disabled. Once the car is parked, there are not even 100 meters to cover until you reach a piece of lawn in which you will find a small, low-key hut: Welcome to the Headquarters of Alto Garda Kite.
Within the whole area the getting around in a wheelchair is pretty easy. The parking lot is well asphalted and the lawn surrounding the club’s hut is flat and nicely mowed. As member of the club you have access to the marina’s bathroom facilities which of course accommodate a well maintained accessible bathroom with shower and toilette. The only downer is the fact that the accessible facilities are only to be found in the female locker rooms. Representing the male gender, this does make you feel a little bit as intruder and you better knock before entering the room.
Check out Riva until it starts blowing
While waiting for the wind to pick up, you can relax in one of the beanbags on the lawn or go for a coffee to the ‚Sailing Bar‘ right next door. A nice walk at the water front is also highly recommended.
In general the town of Riva del Garda is pretty pleasant for rolling folk. It is easy to explore this town of 17.000 inhabitants in a wheelchair as it’s not very big and surprisingly flat – if you want to overcome altitude within the village you’ll have to make do with the hotel elevator.
No matter how you kill the time, just don’t forget to be back at the club when the switch flicks. As soon as the flags in the marina start to flutter and the first white caps are to be seen on the lake, it’s time to get going. First step: Wetsuit … for untrained wheelchair users already this is a sweaty challenge. Once you’ve passed that hurdle, you can enter the boat right away just by rolling over a small ramp. How luxurious is that?
As soon as everybody is aboard and the gear is stashed, the Pontoon boat leaves the harbour. Course South: Right to the wind and the kiteboarding zone. Usually the trip shouldn’t last much longer then 10 minutes. Depending on the conditions, it might become a little chilly, also prepare yourself to get a wet during the ride. No worries though. First of all it’s just … well … water. And second: If that’s already too much for you, you might want to reconsider your kiteboarding plans.
Be (in the) water my friend.
After arriving at the destination, the kite will be inflated and launched from the water. From now on the proceeding depends on each rider’s level. Those who already master the craft just rush into the floods and ride until they’re being picked up to get back to the marina.
But what’s really interesting for us now, is what happens during lessons. Beginners for example sit on a car seat fixed onto the boat where they can train flying the kite without any risk. If you are a step further, you jump with an instructor into the lake to do some bodydragging. For safety reasons the instructor is hooked in your harness at all times. As soon as you’ve mastered this, the big moment has come: It’s time to try the board and start riding. A key moment that might give you a little adrenalin rush. Not only are you now only a blink of an eye away from real kiteboarding, you will also be on your own for the first time. No, just kidding, you clearly won’t be on your own although it might feel this way. Because even though boat and instructor are always with you, it will be the first time that the team won’t be in physical contact distance. Nothing to be frightened of though. I repeat: The boat is always close. Apart from that you should meanwhile have reached a level where you know how to use the safety system.
Nearly endless space
Especially those of you who’ve already experienced more crowded spots, will appreciate
the Altogardakite-Feeling. You’ll be able to enjoy a surprising amount of space as well as constant and moderate winds. That means you can train your moves carefreely and don’t even have to worry too much about staying upwind. Even if you end up further downwind than initially planned, the crew is always on the spot to pull you out of the water before it is time to get back on land.
Back in the marina it makes sense to first get out of the wetsuit. Also a nice warm shower might revitalize before you round off the afternoon with a beer on the lawn of the club. And what would be a kiteboarding day without „shop talk“? Time to discuss the latest session with the rest of the gang.
Basic information Alto Garda Kite:
The stated prizes apply to all members … with or without …
Membership: 30€ per year
Shuttle: 30€ per session (25€ per session when you buy a block of 10)
Kite course: 420€ (About 5 hours and a little more. Gear and membership included.)
Beginning of the Season: the adapted Kitesurfing season starts around end of may, as soon as the water temperatures allow it. As Altogardakite is a small club, the kiteboarding instructors don’t work fulltime. This is why they can attend a maximum of 10 adapted kiteboarding clients per season.
A.S.D. ALTO GARDA KITE
Loc. Porto San Nicolò,
38066 Riva del Garda – TN
Tel: +39 348 2438858
There are 2 main wind directions on lake Garda, which is a spot of thermal winds. Early in the morning there is the Pelér coming from North. This northern wind usually drops around 11:00am. Around midday (1pm) the Ora usually starts to blow from South.
Residence Centro Vela ***… right next to the marina. The hotel offers wheelchair friendly apartments (Price: from 88€/night¹)
Hotel Bellariva ****… only 200m from the club. The hotel offers accessible rooms (Price single room: from 112€/night²)
Camping Brione … only a couple hundred meters from the club. The camping offers accessible bungalows (Price: from 71€/night³). If you sleep in your tent, car or camper-van, there accessible bathroom facilities as well (check gallery Photo 27/32)
Fotos by Alto Garda Kite A.S.D.
¹ check www.centrovela.eu : Price for category ‚Comfort‘ (5 persons) with spacious shower (check photos on hotel-website); As of 17.04.2019
² check www.hotelbellariva.com : Photo 32/46 in booking.com shows bathroom; As of 17.04.2019
³ check www.campingbrione.com ; as of 17.04.2019