Yesterday’s southwest wind saw two “totally avoidable” but nonetheless horrific accidents involving kitesurfers in Ria de Alvor.
In one, a 44-year-old Englishman was smashed against rocks as a strong gust of wind blew his kite out of the sea and onto the shore.
In another, an “inexperienced kitesurfer” from Lisbon is understood to have ignored advice from lifeguards and other kitesurfers, and suffered serious injuries as a result of a bad fall.
Talking to nearby Alvor kitesurf centre, the Resident heard how both accidents “should never have happened”.
“The conditions were all wrong for all but the most experienced kitesurfers,” a spokesman for the centre told us.
“Both the injured men had little experience and, as far as we know, neither knew the area well.
“The Englishman who had to be airlifted to hospital was on the Lagos side of the Ria. As far as we know, he was alone and didn’t ask anyone for information about the conditions here.
“This was a bad mistake as the rule for kitesurfers going anywhere in the world is always find out about the place where you are planning to practice this sport.
“It may look easy, but it is a very dangerous sport indeed,” the spokesman stressed.
“The young man who got injured much later in the day had been warned by lifeguards not to try kitesurfing in the wind we were having, but he ignored everyone, and then he got into trouble.
“He was not as badly hurt as the Englishman, but he was seriously hurt nonetheless.”
On Monday, a hospital spokesman confirmed the Englishman was still in intensive care in Faro and may require transfer for specialist care in Lisbon.
According to the local resident who called INEM rescue services on Sunday lunchtime, the injured man “was completely broken, all covered in blood, with his head very very swollen”.
“He spoke, but you couldn’t understand what he was saying,” Octávio Parreira told reporters.
Parreira called rescue services after being alerted by another Englishman who had obviously seen the accident.
Rescuers had to climb down to where the man lay injured, and then carry him on a stretcher for about a kilometer to a point where an INEM helicopter could safely pick him up.
Details on the rescue of the Lisbon kitesurfer have yet to emerge, but the bottom line is that anyone coming to the Algarve to practice this sport needs to talk to locals before going onto the water.
“We asked the local council if we could put up signs, warning kitesurfers of all the dangers and idiosyncrasies of the area, but they weren’t interested,” the spokesman for Alvor Kitesurf Centre added.
“It is incredibly short-sighted, as this could be a paradise for this kind of sport, but instead we get these periodic disasters which should never have happened.”
By NATASHA DONN