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It was a long time that I aimed to enjoy a nice windsurfing session at Praia do Cabedelo, in Viana do Castelo, Portugal. And luck would have it that my first session here coincided with beautiful conditions, with a significant North West swell, and with a North East wind, side off. An ideal mix for a pure waveriding session down the line; and I have really gone crazy....

 

Windsurfing, report: Viana do Castelo, Portugal. I live for the down the line ...

After Galicia, my tour of the Iberian Peninsula included a visit to the famous spot of Praia do Cabedelo, in Viana do Castelo, in the north of Portugal (read the detailed spot review). The continuously variable forecasts of the previous days generated a bit of anxiety in me, but then it became clear that Thursday 17 June 2021 would have been a big day, with the arrival of an important swell from the North West, and a good wind from the North East in the afternoon. The forecasts were fully confirmed, and, on Thursday afternoon, a show was staged in Viana do Castelo, which will remain memorable for me, and which I can't wait to relive. For those who know these other spots, conditions similar to Paternoster, South Africa, or the G-Spot, Masirah, Oman ....

But let's see better what happened ...

 

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The swell arrived in Viana from the early morning of the 17th. Almost no wind, and overcast skies with gloomy weather. Could I just sit on the beach watching that marvellous waves, without doing anything? No! And so I went to the Viana Beach Center - where I met Pier, from Turin, who is a windsurfing instructor here - and I hired a nice 8'6" Soft Board; I put on my wetsuit (the 5/4, to be on the safe side, given the overcast sky and the temperature of about 16-17 degrees, just above that of the water), and I went into the sea. I quickly recovered the notions learned in previous surfing sessions, in Cornwall, Morocco, and Portugal, and I managed, at least on the smallest waves, to stand up on the board, and even control a bit its direction. But after two hours of surfing, I got out of the water, and went to the apartment, right at the end of Avenida do Cabedelo, to eat and rest a bit. But while I was resting, at 15.00, I started to hear the sound of the wind, which was entering more and more strong over the spot, and I rushed to the beach again ...

In front of me, a show beyond belief: about fifteen riders in the water, and a few kiters, surfing very smooth waves, with a period of more than 10 seconds, with a nice side off wind. Someone even tried some goiters, or some aerials!

I quickly rigged the equipment, to go and enjoy this goodness ...

Being the wind side off, and light (between 15 and 20 knots), I rigged the Ezzy Elite 2019 5.3, with the new Goya Super Skinny 140-190 boom, which I am testing, and I prepared the Tabou Pocket 94 2016 , set as a trusther, with G10 fins. This board is prooving more and more versatile, and I really use it in many different conditions, at the sea and at the lakes.

 

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I entered the water around 4.00 pm (again with the 5/4 wetsuit, obviously). In the first hour, due to a momentary drop in the wind speed, which was also a bit unstable in the inside, it was not easy to go out: you had to wait a bit for the right moment, so as not to go out in conjunction with the bigger sets; a good technique was also useful, on the inevitable bigger waves, which every now and then, however, could arrive. After a few wipe-outs, with determination, floating, I conquered the open sea, I reversed the course, and I began to look over my shoulder, proceeding towards the shore.

I immediately understood what to do, and I didn't make the mistake of my first sessions with side off wind, and wave. When I noticed the arrival of some more important sets, I started to accelerate, until acquiring the glide, just before being reached by the still smooth and not breaking wave, pointing not towards the beach, but in a direction, more or lesse, parallel to it. Reached by the wave, I started to descend its wall, further accelerating ...., and the libido started .... In similar wind conditions, and with wave that takes a while before breaking, surfing them is easy and very funny. And already on the first wave, I placed a series of bottoms and cut backs ....

Viana is a fairly safe spot, even in such conditions. You just have to be careful, especially in mid-tide conditions, not to end the ride in the middle of the bay, near the shore, where there is a large (about 100 meters) area of ​​rocks, that remain slightly submerged. At high tide, it is possible to pass over most of them, except those closest to the shore (but care must be taken, anyway). At low tide, almost all of them remain completely emerged, and therefore are no longer a problem (the spot must, from this point of view, be inspected at low tide).

Offshore, the sea was almost flat, or slightly wavy. With side off wind, and also thanks to the pier at the port's, 2-300 meters form the shore there is no way for the wind-swell to rise. Only the NW swell, once it bypassed the pier of the port, pointed towards the beach, forming those stupendous waves, described above, easily identifiable, already offshore, when they were still growing. In short, perfect conditions, and, perhaps, for once, the work of man has improved, and not worsened, the spot conditions.

I caught some other waves easily, in this first part of the session, during which, however, going offshore, due the wind weakness near the shore, was rather tiring, and tricky.

After an hour, I returned to shore to rest for a moment, and to take some photos of the riders that were enjoying the spot.

At 5.30 pm I returned to the sea, and the second part of the session was perfect. The wind strengthened, and became more stable, even in the inside. This circumstance, and a newfound habit of overcoming the first breakers allowed me to go out into the sea more easily. Offshore, the 5.3 was almost big. Stable glide assured, in an offshore flat water spot! Jibe or tack, and back to the playground again.

In this phase of the session, it was necessary to control the glide, in order not to gain too much speed, and to wait for the arrival of the wave, rising from behind. I took all the waves I wanted.

I still have to perfect the timing, once on the wave, though, because after the bottom, too often, I find myself too far ahead in front of the waves. But in these easy side off conditions, it happened less often, as, gliding on the non-breaking wave, it was easier to change the direction and remedy some mistakes, repositioning yourself on the wave, and sail up its wall again. Unfortunately, due to my lack of patience with the GoPro, I have not filmed too many of these rides of mine. But they are all stuck in my mind.

Because of too much enthusiasm, I also ended up among the rocks, obviously; but without any consequence, having identified, almost in low tide conditions, an easy way back to the beach, walking among them, with water at hips height.

 

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At 18.30, I had to get out of the water, happy, but almost exhausted. The conditions would have allowed us to go on until 19.30 / 20.00 (it's beautiful, that in summer you have sun light until late ...). But the two hours of surfing in the morning tired me a bit, and I really didn't have any energy left to spend; before getting into some trouble, getting badly wiped out by a wave, when going out, I decided to end this unforgettable session.

Now, all I do is dreaming of down the line waveriding..., and I'm already trying to figure out when to relive this incredible state of grace as soon as possible.

Hang loose. Fabio Muriano

Click here, for the whole slidegallery of the session.

 

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