Riding in Playa Ritoque
For almost the entire first windy season in Chile, I taught and rode in La Boca (near Matanzas). I was stoked to have a place to ride, but not so excited that it was a 2.5-3 hour drive from Santiago (and not on the best of roads) and boasted super gusty wind. I had also checked out Pupuya, Matanzas and Embalse El Yeso. However, besides La boca, none of those places presented me with a great place to take students and also enjoy a great session myself.
Then, one of my friends (who also happens to be a student of mine) asked if I would go to Playa Ritoque with them to try out. They live in Reñaca, so its a 15 minute drive to the spot (much…much…much better than the 2 hours it would take them to get to Matanzas). I was quite keen to check out the spot as it is a 1.5 hour drive for me (and my boyfriend’s parents have an apartment in Reñaca as well…so it would be a win over paying for a place in Matanzas)!
First impression was a lasting impression because it was incredible!!!! Despite being an ocean spot, it is amazing to ride and teach!
There are actually four different spots in that area (Playa Ritoque, La Boca for north winds during the winter, the Laguna at the entrance of Playa Ritoque and a super secret laguna!), but I will speak mostly about Playa Ritoque.
The wind generally blows from the SSW in the summer months, which sets up perfect. Generally you will have a side shore to side on-shore wind (and very rarely will you get it turning to on-shore wind). While it isn’t blasting like you find in Matanzas, I prefer the wind here much more. The wind ranges from 12 knots to 25+, so on most days people are using kites from 9-12. If you weigh a little less (which is the case for most of the women), you can get away with having a 7 meter and 9 meter.
So, depending on the tide and the size of the tidal change can really change this place! The waves are very small close to shore, but about 100 meters out you have a larger break that can be difficult to get past if you aren’t experienced (but for the beginners, there is plenty of space to ride between the shore and the break!). During low tide, be careful with the water depth as it can get quite shallow closer to shore. There is a bit of a current during the peak times of the tidal changes, but nothing too serious.
There are no underwater obstacles in the tack that everyone uses, although upwind you will find some rocks that can become submerged depending on the tide. Also, if you ride too far down near the entrance by the laguna/bridge, you will find more of a current (which can make it difficult to ride upwind). Only once have I seen anything dangerous… A fisherman put a stake in the ground, which became partially covered during the high tide. We pulled it out so no one impaled themselves! Otherwise, great spot! Really pristine!
Entering the spot can be a bit tricky. You need to pay either 1500 CLP during the week or 2500 CLP during the weekend. You can enter the beach by the parking lot OR drive alongside the train tracks until you get to a dead end. Cross the train tracks there and turn left when you get onto the beach. If it’s windy, you will see the kiters! If you are the first one there, park a little upwind of the tower (there is a tower with an wind sensor on top…although I have not found the website it links to, if any..). Here is the catch…if you don’t have a four wheel drive, it can be a little iffy to drive onto the beach. It is better to park near to the train tracks and walk from there. It is about a 10 minute walk, but much better than getting stuck in the sand!
Ritoque offers a lot! When the tide sets up right, you get a super flat spot closer to shore if you want to practice some free style. If you want to surf, head out to the break a bit farther out. If you want to just practice free riding-the whole spot is your play ground! It’s really amazing and definitely a place I recommend!
For more info on classes, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit my school page at gdvchile.com!