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Unos vacaciones maravillosas

Juan Antonio view all

Fuerte and Lanzarote Trip

  Website: sophiemathews.com  
Sponsors: Nobile Kiteboarding , Greenish Clothing , Dwarf 8 

Now the competition season has started it's time to get down to some serious training.  Who would have thought that this would result in good conditions, two Islands, four pro windsurfers, a load of laughs and me?

Sailing all the time on ‘'your patch'' does tend to make us all rather relaxed as we know the conditions and pitfalls and sometimes progress can be slow. Training in different places certainly sharpens you up and concentrates the mind.  So the ‘'plan'' was to go to Lanzarote and Fuerteventura to train in very different conditions, and do some photo and video shoots. So travelling from Tarifa to the Canaries I wasn't really sure what I was in for.

I was met off the plane by Antxon Otaegui, a local from Lanzarote and a well-known face on both the PWA and EFPT Windsurfing circuit. As my kiting equipment and clothes wouldn't be arriving until the following day, we headed for the beach, and guided. This is annoying for anyone, but for us ladies not even having a bikini, toothbrush, or clean pair of pants is just embarrassing.

Lanzarote is bizarre with landscape comparable to what I imagine the moon to be like.  No greenery, just a few trees and plenty of black magma.   Shaped by elemental powers the fire of the earth created an island of natural miracles.  125km from the African mainland and the most north-eastern island of the archipelago, it is the fourth biggest of the Canary Islands being 795km2.

Bathed by the Atlantic Ocean, Lanzarote and Fuerteventura stand out the most amongst the seven islands as they are less exploited by mass tourism.  Biosphere reserves and national parks mean dramatic and protected landscapes, not to mention the breath taking colour of the water.

As promised, my equipment arrived at lunch time the following day, and I was desperate to explore and test what Lanzarote had to offer.

 Antxon took me to a beach on the north of the island called Famara. Dropping over the brim of the volcanic mountain range the landscape takes your breath away.  To the right a huge mountain with clouds gathering at the tip, to the left, a quiet and un spoilt seaside town.  The two, separated by a long sweeping sandy bay with crystal clear waters and white horses visible, perfect.

Not so perfect, as with all prepared kiters I had forgotten a pump.  Crossing my fingers and hoping that there would be someone to help, I was in luck, and the princess did go to the ball!

Not enough wind for windsurfing, Antxon was handed the camera. I have learned to appreciate since travelling with windsurfers, that pretty much always we kiters can get on the water with the right equipment.  I pumped up my 12m being watched by a very confused windsurfer who had an expression of disbelief, as if to say "you do realise there's no wind".  

The spot was perfect for all levels of kiters and windsurfers. It is very safe due to the direction of the cross onshore wind and concave shape of the bay.  Out back, there were some decent waves which I am told grow in size as the wind increases.  On the inside perfectly formed stunt ramps separated by flat sections of water for the avid freestylers.  So off I went once again leaving the windsurfer waiting for more wind.

A few hours later having taken full advantage of this wonderful location I decided to call it a day.  As I packed up my gear it became clear that a short amount of time with the camera had turned the pro windsurfer into a self proclaimed pro camera man.

The next morning we left for Fuerteventura .The island of Lanzarote is 87kms long, so for the locals a 20 min journey almost has to be planned the day before. This meant that the 40km drive to the ferry was a long way.  As we were queuing in the port Antxon announced he had lost his credit card!  And his head by the look of things.

A few phone calls later we tracked it down and it was back to Costa Teguise to pick it up. If you could have heard the complaints.  Girls, if I could possibly paint the picture with words, you would be feeling by now particularly macho.  Well put it this way, my headphones went on!

Eventually we arrive, the scenery is truly breathtaking.  Having travelled to many different spots such as Australia, the Caribbean, South America, Egypt and some wonderful places in Europe, I can honestly say I have never seen colours quite like it.  I was in awe.  So close to home, yet I felt so far away in an exotic paradise. The solid line separating turquoise waters with sandy bottoms and the rocky deep waters was so defined. There are massive environmental contrasts of Natural Park sand dunes in the north of the Island and the 32km of soft white beaches in the southern peninsula offering spectacular views and a striking difference to the barren ridges of mountains that dominate the island.  Puerto del Rosario has been the island's capital since the 1860's, and is home to the majority of the population.

Fuerteventura is the second largest of the Canary Islands, yet the least populated.  It is situated just 15km south of Lanzarote and offers in excess of 150 golden sandy beaches to explore making it a water sport enthusiast's paradise.  With direct and economically priced flights from most big airports, it is a perfect quick get away location. Due to the great winds it is also home to the Windsurfing and Kiting World Championships in July every year.


Although there is enough space for all windsurfers and surfers, Fuerteventura is very strict on where you can and cannot sail.  Not only that, but as with any spot, the locals are very protective especially the windsurfers.  This became abundantly clear when we arrived at Risko de Paso to meet Rafael Cervero.   An avid freesyling windsurfer, one hard to miss through sheer comedy value, who moved to Fuerteventura some years ago.  He was to be our host and our guide for the week


A large white sign with Kiting Prohibido in red meant although the conditions looked good it was totally out of the question.  So once again with not enough wind for windsurfing I jumped back in the car plus 2 more easy on the eye windsurfers, and headed 2kms up wind to a beach called Sotavento.

Unfortunately none of them could pump up my kite, I never did discover why, maybe sour grapes because I was off sailing again, but they did come and collect me after I ended up downwind with a deflated kite.  They got some funny looks from sunbathers on the beach, one carrying the kite, one the board and the other my bar not a macho windsurfing picture. On the plus side, Antxon and Chochi had cameras and took some great pics, but Rafa enjoyed the modelling side more, so as you can imagine we had some fairly entertaining material to laugh at later that evening.


The last of the gang to arrive was Norman Gunzlein. This highly amusing German windsurfer brought a lot of laughs to the table.  So now in total, 4 windsurfers, 2 housemates and myself in Rafa´s 2 bedroom house and it was here that the week was named  "RAFA´S TRAINING CAMP 2008".  The garden of the house looked more like a windsurfing shop, with mountains of equipment spilling onto the terrace leaving very little room for the relaxing evening beers



Trying to get boys out of bed in the morning is far from easy.  The never ending sounds of heavy snoring, I should know I have two brother - BOYS!!

After much persuasion I watched as they milled around the house.  If only they were as motivated to get a move on as they are when on the water.  Watching the palm trees rustling in the wind, the frustration was unbearable and tearing my hair out I pilfered the car off Antxon and headed to the beach, leaving the boys with the shopping list.

Driving along the coast road it looked promising and excited at the prospects of more wind I pumped my 9 and headed out.  After two hours of hard training it was time for a break.  Relaxing on the beach, my peace and quiet was disturbed by the noise of SPANGLISH !   For those unfamiliar - this is a mixture of English and Spanish. It was the boys.....................and I cried with laughter when I saw them. As you all know transporting windsurfing equipment is not the easiest. They had crammed themselves and their gear into two cars.  Rafa´s Ibiza and Antxon´s comedy white bullet, both with bits of equipment hanging out of the windows and boot, but at least they made it --- just.

For those of you who are not familiar with the level that these boys sail at, here is an idea.  Their style and presence on the water is impressionable to say the least.  The moves are technical and executed in an astonishing manner, but each with individual style that only leaves you in awe. All this makes you realise that these talented athletes are working on progressing and pushing the level of the sport, in every way possible.  With new moves being invented constantly it is inevitable that training and keeping up with the pack is of utmost importance - so 5.2m sails it was

The next few days were filled with good winds for both kiting and windsurfing, although on my last day I was over powered on my 7 m but the boys were enjoying the delights of the stronger winds and the ramps pulling off wonderful aerial maneuvers.

There were a couple of big crashes, all happening in the same day.  Antxon had a fight with the clue of the sail, which won, leaving him with a nice cut on his head.  Chochi got the boom in his ribs and I got dragged up the beach face first after getting one of my back lines wrapped around the bar during a move.  Not so glamorous.  So that evening was less party and more of a mixture of Ibuprofen, Voltaren and Beer.

The week had come to an end and I was sad to be leaving. Rafa´s Training Camp had proved a huge success in its first year and I am sure the 2009 one will be even better.  We had all pushed ourselves that bit harder and further, the conditions had been wonderful, Rafa an outstanding host, and Antxon the best taxi driver.  Both Lanzarote and Fuerteventura are well worth a visit if you want to hone your skills.  I am definitely going back. Thanks boys.