Rain, floods, wildfires, smog: outdoor enthusiasts have had a pretty rough summer. This is also the case for kitesurfing enthusiasts: the wind was scarce and the forecasts were not particularly reliable.

“This is the worst summer I’ve ever seen!” “, exclaims Jean-Sébastien Gagnon, who introduces himself as someone “who has been chasing the wind for over 15 years” and who owns a kitesurfing equipment distribution company, CORE Kites Canada.

It was simply not possible to trust the weather forecast.

“It means that, as a kiter, you look at the forecasts as usual, you plan your week by telling yourself that it won’t be windy, you plan a business appointment or with the orthodontist for small and when the day comes, you look outside and it’s windy! »

But more often than not, the forecasts promised good wind conditions and when the day came, nothing. Not a breath.

For Kiteforce, a Montreal kitesurfing shop and school, this lack of reliability is particularly problematic. She schedules the training sessions a few days in advance, when the wind conditions look favorable.

Progression Kite, in Lac-Saint-Jean, experienced the same situation. “I always look at several applications to get an idea: Windy, Windguru, MétéoMédia,” says Hugo Garon Bouchard, founder of the Progression Kite school. But even with all these platforms, all these applications, it was difficult to predict. They use the same data, in the end, it looks the same. »

He wondered whether climate change and weather systems linked to the El Niño phenomenon were helping to muddy the waters for meteorologists.

Jean-Sébastien Gagnon asked himself the same question. “I started to doubt the weather forecast. There was something wrong. »

Jean-Philippe Bégin, meteorologist at Environment Canada, nevertheless believes that the forecasts are as reliable as before. “We use the same tools and the models are more efficient,” he says.

He notes, however, that Environment Canada pays more attention to violent wind conditions than to the light and moderate winds that kitesurfing enthusiasts may enjoy. “Our mandate is to protect the human lives and property of Canadians,” he recalls.

This is how Environment Canada checks the accuracy of its forecasts for violent winds, which it does not do for moderate winds.

Jean-Philippe Bégin adds that regional forecasts do not take into account local conditions, such as the proximity of bodies of water (sought after by kitesurfing enthusiasts). These local conditions can have an effect on the winds, especially when we are talking about light and moderate winds. This makes it more difficult to have accurate forecasts.

Beyond the accuracy of the forecasts, it was the virtual absence of winds that hurt this summer. “There were fewer windy days,” says Lou-Mai Plusqellec-François. At the beginning of summer, during the month of June, we normally expect a little wind and there was almost none, almost zero days. It was very surprising. »

The trend continued in July. “We had great weather, but not much wind, unfortunately,” says Hugo Garon Bouchard.

August was a little more normal. “But we still had a long period of two weeks without any wind,” notes Ms. Plusquellec-François.

Fortunately, the kitesurfing season is not over! “We continue to give classes until the end of September,” says Ms. Plusquellec-François. Afterwards, the water begins to cool down, it is less easy to give lessons to beginners. »

Enthusiasts can continue for a few months. “As long as it’s above 10 degrees, it’s still very comfortable to go into the water dressed with a good wetsuit, a hood, gloves and boots,” argues Hugo Garon Bouchard.

The wind still needs to be there.

For that, we can look towards the Îles-de-la-Madeleine. “We generally have good wind,” recalls Simon Barrette, of Aeroport les Îles. But this year, we had less in July: the heatwave killed the wind. On the other hand, in August, it was windier than usual. »

” This is where it happens ! », he concludes.

In some routes, climbers hang upside down to make a transition between two difficult movements, to rest their arms or even because it is a nice movement.

This is the number of islets in the Mingan archipelago. There are also around twenty islands.