“Trade winds and kitesurfing” is a go-to term for the wind-lovers in the Caribbean. As we approach the kitesurfing winter season, the trade winds in the Caribbean are starting to pick up and with them, kitesurfers and windsurfers are sharing the news: The trade winds are back! But what the trade winds are exactly? What is its cause and how affects the kitesurfers? As we were mentioning in our blog ‘5 Symptoms of a Kitesurf Addict’, if you are stoked by a watersport such as kitesurfing, there are many chances you are very well informed about the wind report so… this blog is for you!
What Are the Trade Winds?
The trade winds are those that follow a wind pattern. This means the trade winds blow predominantly from one single direction over to a particular point. In the Northern Hemisphere the trade winds blow from the northeast and in the Southern Hemisphere from the southeast. The trade winds are famous to be blowing nearly constantly. (See source here.)
What Is the Cause?
Like any wind, the trade winds are caused by the difference of atmospheric pressure, moving from the higher to the lower pressure area. But, what is the cause for the trade winds to blow in this specific direction? We will find the answer in the earth’s rotation and the Coriolis Effect. If the earth did not rotate, the wind current would go from the poles (high pressure) to the equator (low pressure).
But because of the earth’s rotation, the wind is deflected towards the right in the Northern Hemisphere and towards the left in the Southern Hemisphere. This deflection is called Coriolis Effect.
The Engine for Sailors
The trade winds have been used for many centuries by sailors traveling around the world, using them as the power to cross the Atlantic, the Pacific and southern Indian Oceans. For example, a sailing boat that wants to cross the Atlantic from Europe to the Caribbean might use the trade winds, starting at the Canary Islands (Northeast) and ending at the South of the Caribbean like Barbados or Tobago.
The Best Conditions for the Kitesurfers
The trade winds give to some kitesurfing spots the best characteristics, turning them into kitesurfing paradises! Their consistency in direction and intensity will save to the kitesurfer many variables to worry about. You won’t have to worry about being in the water and suddenly having to dela with a drastic wind direction change. Or having to kite with very gusty or super strong winds. The trade winds blow around 12 to 15 knots of intensity. During the summer the wind is lighter but more consistent and during the winter (December, January, February) the wind is stronger but a bit more inconsistent. In general, the trade winds will give you a predictable session without big unexpected surprises.
Our favourite kitesurfing spot to enjoy the trade winds is Silver Rock beach, Barbados, where the wind blows predominantly from the northeast, giving to the beach the best conditions: side on wind with the perfect angle to surf the reef waves or to use them as kickers to practice some air tricks. Many islands of the Caribbean has its own benefits and particularities and they are a favourite for many kitesurfers from around the world. If you are looking for a windy destination this winter, hop to the Caribbean and ride the trade winds!
Interesting Facts about the Trade Winds
—> These prevailing winds got their name in the mid 17th century from the phrase blow trade ‘blow steadily in the same direction’. Because of the importance of these winds to navigation, in the 18th-century etymologists were led erroneously to connect the word trade with ‘commerce’.
—> They also have an effect on ocean currents as they drag the water’s surface, creating the ‘gyres’, major spirals of ocean-circling currents.
—> The trade winds originate off the coast of Africa, and have been known to carry dust from the Sahara desert all the way across the southern North Atlantic to the Caribbean Islands.
—> The Northern and Southern trade winds meet at the Doldrums (5 degrees north and 5 degrees south from the equator), where the winds are calm.
—>El Niño is a climatic phenomenon related with the warm-up of the water from the ocean waters from the Pacific, having important weather consequences around the world such as relaxing the trade winds.
To Learn More
Visit the NOAA (National Oceanografic and Athmospheric Administration) to know more about the trade winds.
The Trade Winds in Barbados
Barbados is the home base of the KiteSirens, as the Trade Winds treat the island so good is a kitesurfing paradise! We have amazing conditions almost all year. The best time to enjoy the wind in Barbados is from December to June. Come and have the dream kitesurfing holidays you are looking for! Check our our kitesurf school Kitesurf Intl by KiteSirens, we can plan your perfect holidays in Barbados!