I met up with Yohann on Savoyard Beach, near the Diamant, south of Saint Pierre. He is waiting for the wind with his friend Michel. There are a few like him in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, waiting for the wind to pick up: they are kitesurfers, some of the first in this corner of the world to the east of Canada.
Yohann was one of the first to go into the discipline. He discovered kitesurfing in 2001 during a trip to Australia, and decided to bring it back to his archipelago of Saint Pierre and Miquelon.
Completely inexperienced and with materials that were still very basic, Yohann soon found himself in the hospital. He gave it up for a few years before getting back to it six years ago. He explains to me that his current equipment performs much better, allowing to fine-tune as well as refine the tension of the sail.
The sea is his universe
He sets up his sail, fastens his harness and waits for the gust of wind. His friend Michel is in front of him, keeping the sail in position. They both claim to be "sail masters." Each has their own boat, but the kite was their proof to prolong their pleasure.
Yohann spends his life in the water: he is a scuba diver. Like many children on the island of Saint Pierre, the sea is his universe!
The wind rushes into the vertical sail. With his board in hand, Yohann approaches the water of Savoyard. If the best spots are, according to him, on the island of Miquelon (indeed, some kitesurfers go there every weekend on purpose), Diamant Beach is the most interesting place in Saint Pierre. It is easy to park there, right next to the water, without having to carry the equipment a long distance. In the background, the houses of Savoyard stand along the horizon.
A lagoon bordered by mountains
The Diamant is a peninsula connected to Saint Pierre by two isthmuses enclosing the lagoon. Savoyard is a new district of Saint Pierre, a few minutes from the city, where the most recent constructions still show the typical local style: wood and color!
Yohann walks a few meters into the water, keeping an eye on his sail. Here is the crucial moment: get on the board at the right time to dash away, carried by the wind.
The mountainous reliefs of Saint Pierre and the Diamant allow the wind to rush, as in a corridor, picking up kitesurfers and the local birds alike. But it is unpredictable: it doesn't always last for long. Yohann speaks to me of northwest, southwest and other northeast winds.
From spring to early fall
So, to increase their chances, Yohann and his friend come here almost every day, between spring and early fall. In winter, the Savoyard pond will be covered with ice, becoming the kingdom of ice skaters.
Right now, we're lucky: it's blowing! Yohann rushes forward. The movement is fast, precise. He pulls the sail, sets his foot down, then both his feet, and races for a few meters before the sail falls into the water, accompanied by the laughter of Michel. The latter, who arrived earlier, had already suffered some failures. Today, the wind does not blow enough. Maybe they will have more luck tomorrow.
If no kitesurfers' association exists in Saint Pierre and Miquelon, there is, however, a nice group of close-knit enthusiasts, always ready to help each other. They are less than a dozen and they all know each other, of course, as to be expected on an archipelago of 6,000 residents!