Cabarete Kiteboarding Club Text

Dominican Republic

Kiteboard in Cabarete

I came to Cuba in 2012 for work, at that time I was working in a construction company and was appointed to run the office branch in Cuba in a small village called Tarara. I discovered the amazing conditions for kitesurfing and started practicing it during free time and weekends for my own enjoyement. I am originally from Padova, an Italian city that has no direct access to the sea. For some inexplicable reason, I had always felt a passion and attraction for the sea and started practicing water sports in my early years. I used to focus on sailing, waterski and wakeboarding, actually becoming a regional champion in waterski many years ago. First time I saw someone practicing kitesurfing was end of 1999 in Fuerteventura. I immediately captivated me and decided to learn it. In 2001 started to practice it and actually became the 174th registered Italian kiteboarder.

Matteo Gatti Father of Cuba Kiteboarding

I had studied economics specialized in finance in the Bocconi university in Milano. I worked all my life in different global companies travelling all over the world, running business and wearing a tie. All until that day in 2012, when I decided to permanently replace the tie for a kite. I had worked all my life in corporations and different industries, but past my mid forties, I had had enough. Recognized the potential and the development of Cuba and decided to try and dedicate myself to my passion and focus on kitesurfing.

Kitesurfing did not exist in Cuba at that time. There were no laws for it, it was not recognized nor known as a sport. Only a handful people practiced it all over the countrz. I started quite naïve, filing a request to open the first kite school in Cuba. But it did not come through. Decided to not give up so easily, started to travel the country and kite on different spots, somehow ending up knowing pretty much everyone of the few kite surfers in Cuba. I initiated a Club to unite the efforts and gave it an identity: “Havana Kiteboarding Club”. Started with a website, a Facebook presence and interacting with interested kiters. It became pretty much the epicenter of a tiny incipient kite community in a country that was new to this amazing sport.

Eventually based on this effort, as well as the traction the kite sport started getting internationally, the government of Cuba decided to look into it and define a legal framework for it. As a consequence, early 2014 the government conclusion was to ban kitesurfing in Cuba. Having created a network of engaged kitesurfers, I started lobbying with the government, explaining the sports and its potential for Cuba. After months of efforts where all was at stake, finally towards the end of 2014, I managed to come to an agreement and designed a contract that now serves as the basis for kiteboarding in Cuba. That is why some refer to me as the father of kiteboarding in Cuba.

In a few years, the sport is flourishing and gaining a lot of popularity. Nearly a dozen operating schools across the country and countless kites that can be spotted on the many paradisic beaches of this unique country, and it seems to only be the beginning.