Being foreclosed all other possible destinations, for reasons related to Covid, we decided to take the opportunity of this forced holiday week to finally go and discover a well-known windsurfing destination: Fuerteventura, in the Canary Islands. Here is our report.
WINDSURFING, REPORT: FUERTEVENTURA, CANARY ISLANDS, APRIL 2021
(Podcast of the article available in the central part)
Fuerteventura is a strange island. It is a place that must be known and discovered well, to be appreciated and loved. It is not love at first sight, like South Africa or Sardinia. When I left the airport of Puerto del Rosario, driving towards Corralejo, the first arid and desolate landscapes with some unpleasant urbanization, even made me feel a certain anxiety, and I said to myself: "have I arrived in a kind of Oman, with 20 degrees less? "
I immediately wanted to take advantage of this transfer to my accommodation, to go and explore the famous spot of Glass Beach, in the Natural Park of the Dunes of Corralejo. And here the vibes began to be positive, also thanks to the sunset light over the dunes.
(Podcast of the article)
Then arrived at the apartment at the Corralejo Beach Hotel, in the town center. I took a shower and immediately wnet out for a dinner at the Avenida Restaurant, with a nice grouper, with Canary potatoes, white wine, and rum chupito with cream, to finish.
I found myself thrown into another world: summer temperatures, restaurants and clubs full of vacationers. Corralejo immediately revealed itself as one of the nightlife centers of Fuerte.
The next day, Sunday, after a nice breakfast on the balcony overlooking the bay and Lobos (I will miss this pleasant start to the day ...), I went to rent windsurfing equipment from Witchcraft. Bouke Becker, Dutch by origin, but moved to Fuerteventura for decades, as well as owner of the brand and designer at 360 degrees (boards, sails, and fins), was a pleasant meeting made during the holiday in Fuerte. I will talk about Witchcraft, with more details, in another specific article. I then took two Wave Slayer sails, 4.7 and 5.2, a Witchcraft rdm mast, a reduced diameter prolimit carbon boom, and a 90 liter Wave Haka board. And I set off to discover the North Shore of Fuerte.
The wind is not as strong and guaranteed as in the south of the island ( Sotavento, read review ), or as in Pozo, but the quality of the waves (swell), combined with the direction of the wind, means that the wave spots are world class ones.
In the morning, I started checking how to reach the main ones, waiting for the wind to begin blowing, which was predicted for the afternoon. My friend Max Rinaldi from Genoa, a profound connoisseur of the island, was my tutor in real time throughout the holiday. I wandered along the dirt road between Majanicho and El Cotillo, then passing through Punta Blanca. The immense and oceanic beach of El Cotillo immediately won me over for its beauty.
In the afternoon, I then stationed in Punta Blanca, being the spot that, due to the intensity and direction of the wind (NE), guaranteed the best prospects. And so it was. At 16.00 the wind started to pick up (about 15-16 knots). I rigged the 5.2, with the batten above the boom pointing over the middle of the mast, as advised by Bouke to give more power to the sail, and at 17.00 I entered the water. In the first few days, there was no big swell, but on Sunday the waves at Punta seemed nice and fun, anyway (1-2 meters). I went out floating, trying to go upwind, so as not to drift towards the rocks 150 meters from the shore, leeward, and in the area of the surfers.
I forgot to tell you that Fuerteventura is a great place for surfing, with many spots for all levels, many schools and rentals, and many (sometimes too many) enthusiasts. And surfing, even for us windsurfers, is an excellent alternative, to have fun in the morning among the waves of the North, waiting for the afternoon wind.
Returning to the session in Punta Blanca, once I changed sailing root, that is, returning to the shore, I started playing with the waves, which were easy and ideal for gaining experience. However, I started with a certain caution, that being my first session here, and being the spot characterized by rocks almost everywhere around, and by an equally rocky and irregular seabed. And, in fact, when I fell, I immediately realized that I had water at my waist, even at 50-70 meters from the shore. Moreover, since the water is very clear, the seabed can be seen very well, when riding! At Punta, you go out in all tide conditions, but it is definitely better to go out at high or rising tide, also because you can take advantage of a sandy beach for entry and exit from the water.
The port tack ride towards the shore has always been the most fun, both for the possibility of surfing the waves, and because, by taking advantage of the gusts and / or the waves, it was possible to easily get planing. When planing, it was also easier tacking or jibing, once the wave was over, before reaching the (rocky) coast.
La Punta is a spot for jumping, but the weak wind did not allow me to make jumps on the occasion of the exit.
I was in the water for an hour before returning to shore to have a drink and a quick bite to eat. Meanwhile, two other windsurfers arrived, one of which, Mateusz, young and slender, also equipped with Witchcraft, was very good. He immediately showed me how to get more waves than me ...
I then went into the water for another hour. In Northern Fuerteventura, it is normal to be in the water in the late afternoon, until sunset.
On Monday morning, I decided to take advantage of the first part of the day to start exploring the island, and I went south, to discover the famous Playa de Sotavento, where Renè Egli, the well-known windsurfing center, is located.
The journey from Corralejo takes about an hour and a half. The south is very touristy, and arriving in Costa Calma, you immediately realize it. Suddenly, palm groves and other thick vegetation appear, a rarity on most of the island, and which proliferate here thanks to artificial irrigation. And large tourist complexes also appear.
But then, suddenly, also Playa de Sotavento appear, which is a unique spectacle to see, endless and with a white sand, dazzling under the intense sunlight, and which contrasts wonderfully with the clear blue sky, and with the emerald sea.
And the wind also appears, a lot of wind. Here the trade wind enters better, being no longer disturbed by Lanzarote.
And so, I parked above the Renè Egli, I rigged the 4.7, with little profile, I put the wetsuit and I entered the water. Around here, a Witchcraft-equipped rider is seen as a Martian. And Renè's instructors began to greet me, perhaps thinking: this must be a good one ...
I immediately noticed the organization on the spot (showers, public toilet, some deck chairs), as well as the facilities of the center, which also moved to Severne equipment.
Sandy bottom, shallow waters, and side off wind. A beachstart, and I started my session. In the first half an hour, I also enjoyed myself ....
Obviously, it is an easy spot, with increasingly choppy water surface (chop overlying on a slight swell), going offshore, and also stronger and stronger wind. I did good jibes, and also some good fast tacks. Around me, slalom riders, mainly. At one point, the Renè Egli drone even caught me windsurfing here (career and reputation as a waver spoilt, ah, ah).
Then, the wind had a rotation and became almost offshore, becoming even more gusty. Closing the maneuvers became more and more difficult, and, after another half an hour in the water, I decided it was enough.
I got out of the water, and continued my exploration of the south of the island.
I started driving inland, in a moon like landscape, coming to admire it from the famous Mirador de Sicasumbre. As far as the eye can see, mountains of volcanic rock, bare, and of different colors, from dark brown to reddish to light ocher. A panorama that arouses contrasting emotions, a mixture of fascination and disquiet due to the desolation of the scene. Suggestive scenarios, but the intensity of the emotions that South Africa or Sardinia gives me are completely different. Tenerife also struck me more from a panoramic point of view, for the greater variety of landscapes, and for the thick vegetation at high altitude, and in the north of the island.
Anyway, I continued my trip, passing by Betancuria, the former capital of the island, with a small historic center, and some prestigious buildings (beautiful church), and a little more vegetation than the norm, supported by the presence of a natural spring.
Then, messages in the Witchcraft team's WhatsApp group began to arrive, indicating that the wind (the trade wind) was beginning to blow well at Punta Blanca. Compatibly with speed limits ..., I threw myself at the Punta.
When I arrived at the spot, a show appeared in front of me: all the wavers from the north of the island were in the water. Nice waves (high tide), and 20 knots of wind.
In the water, among others, an athlete from the Witchcraft team, an Englishman named Will Ward, who has lived in Fuerte for years; I immediately began to admire him for the elegance and naturalness of its maneuvers. Mix of a little old school freestyle with the wave technique, which for me are the most fascinating styles of windsurfing. Over the next few days, I learned to appreciate the numbers he shows in the videos posted on the Witchcraft website .
Tuesday, third day of trade winds expected, but with a slight rotation from the North, and also the arrival of an important swell from the NW.
Bouke made me understand something important. Showing me Windguru's prediction, which gave 1.7 meters of swell, with a period of about 12 seconds, he told me that this prediction could correspond to a swell on shore, even more than a mast high .... In short, the huge mass of water dispersed over a very large surface offshore, and associated with an height of a couple of meters, rises, meeting the lowest seabed on the shore, distributing itself vertically .....
And the day confirmed it to me, especially in some spots ....
I went to see El Puertito, in front of the village of El Cotillo, a spot where only the pros go out, and which can offer Jaws-style conditions. Almost double mast bars suddenly rose from a seemingly flat sea offshore, marked only by threatening parallel dark lines, nearly a hundred meters from each other. Two wave surfers were surfing waves of only... 4-5 meters, just upwind, together with a kiter. At the beach of El Cotillo, a spot that is not very practicable for windsurfing, an impressive shore break even greater than two meters ...
Punta Blanca, had big waves 150-200 meters from shore, but only foams closer to shore, and weak wind.
On the east coast, more protected, much less swell. Small waves (1.5 meters) at Glass beach, very close to the reef, where surfers were concentrated. Nearly zero wind. I took the opportunity to take a refreshing bath in the turquoise water. Then, I have been informed that Glass has been working since 6 pm.
Eventually, I went out at Rocky Point, entering the water from Waikiki in Corralejo. There, the wind around 5.30 pm was very well spreaded, at 18-20 knots, and in front of the reef, you could see, from the shore, some really consistent waves series. I rigged the 5.2, and I went out at sea. The conditions were not the best for waveriding ( onshore wind on the wave, and possibility of surfing the wave only in the backside), but, for me, it was the most fun session of the holiday. First of all, for the quality of the big waves (even 3-4 meters), really clean, easy to see, and light. Secondly, for the quality of the wind, always steady and enough strong. And finally for the beauty of the panorama of the Corralejo bay, closed by the island of Lobos, and Lanzarote in the background.
The board and the sail proved to be the winning jolly, the first fast and the second powerful, guaranteeing entry into planing, earlier than slalom riders! As I mentioned, playing with these waves was a lot of fun (but it must be much more better catching similar waves with side or side off wind ...). When riding out (port tack), you could place some jumps (behind similar waves there is void ...), or you could surf them in the backside.
After watching some videos, I practiced getting to the lip of the wave by laying down the sail, to unload it, anticipating the predictable gust on the crest. It's not nice as front side waveriding, but a great feeling nonetheless. Then, I did a jibe on port tack, my better side, and down again to ride the waves on starboard tack (wind turned a little side on - coming more from North, during my session).
Coming down from such mountains is wonderful for me. Some sets took some really nice bombs. I also tried some front side rides on this side, which was possible, and funny, but with a drawback: at the end of the ride, I found myself on a rocky bottom barely of 1 meter, with some non-small waves that occasionally hit me, also close to shore. Better to start again soon, and go back playing farther offshore.
Max, my friend, had suggested me to cross the channel between the two islands, and go to Lobos, equally famous for its wonderful right hander wave .... But I didn't want to risk it, not being sure of the wind duration ....
After 7pm, I got out of the water, enjoying, while unrigging, the relaxed atmosphere of the Waikiki (collective salsa dance in progress, in the light of the sunset).
Wednesday, last day of good trade winds, expected in the north. I headed straight to Punta Blanca, attempting an early morning session (at 10) with the high tide, and with a bit of swell of the day before. When I arrived, Punta actually had very nice waves, but the wind was on average around 12 knots, with some gusts around 15.
I did, however, get into the water, but I didn't do much, probably more because of my inability to maneuver while floating on small-volume boards, than because of the quality of the spot conditions.
In the middle of the day, I went to do something else. In the afternoon, for the record, Rocky point and Glass beach worked a bit (the latter, however, with conditions that do not allow gliding, and waves of 1.5 meters).
On Thursday, I went back to explore the South, with the idea of going to see what, with good reason, is considered the most beautiful beach on the island: playa de Cofete. First, however, I passed by the Risco del Paso spot, at the west end of Playa de Sotavento, where the ION CLUB is located. Of course, this part of the beach is also very beautiful. Friends have told me that here the wind is a little less gusty, and the water surface is less choppy. But the low intensity of the wind, at the time of my inspection (completely offshore), led me to continue to Cofete.
Well, playa de Cofete is the place in Fuerteventura that gave me the strongest emotions.
From Morro Jable, a dirt road begins that leads to the pass from which, suddenly, the view of the immense beach appears, and of the chain of mountains that slopes down to the white beach, with a uniform slope of dark brown volcanic rocks.
Once you arrive at the beach, in this almost uncrowded period, you cannot help but be enchanted by its vastness. The waves that break on the shore (on the occasion of my visit not as big as those in El Cotillo), complete the unmissable picture. Bathing in these waters will remain memorable for me. On my return to Corralejo, I saw that the wind had entered at Renè Egli. I gave up the session here, to try my luck in the North, where unfortunately, however, nothing significant happened except at Flag Beach. However, good wind really only for the kiters, masters of this beach.
On Friday, as expected, in the North there was hardly any wind, and then I dedicated myself to a bathing day, with a nice swim in that natural pool that is the sea of Flag Beach.
In the evening, I went to Witchcraft to return the equipment, and stayed with Bouke, discussing for over an hour about asymmetrical fins, fin boxes with some degree toe-in, flex tail boards, about the riders of the team, and of the waves of Fuerte. The scheduled dinner at Vaca Azul in El Cotillo was skipped, but it was worth. The conversation was technically enlightening.
I will return to Fuerte, to ride the other wave spots that I have not been able to try on this occasion. The desire to surf the waves of Fuerte in the best conditions, and to try Vaca Azul ... are certainly a good reason to come back to this particular island.
Hasta luego! Fabio
Click here, to enjoy the slidegallery of the session at Punta Blanca, on 19th of april
Click here, to enjoy the slidegallery of the session at Sotavento, on 19th of april
Click here, to watch the general slidegallery about the holiday