Finally, I went to try Moulay, in Morocco, a historic windsurfing spot, for amazing waveriding. The spot gave me and my friend many hours in the water, and in the waves, and the stay in Essaouira was a real immersion in the Arab world, with its customs and traditions.
WINDSURFING, REPORT: MOULAY AND SURROUNDINGS, MOROCCO (4-13 / 06/2022)
In 2012, I was learning to glide in Porto Pollo, Sardinia. In 2022, I'm in Moulay (read also the detailed spot review).
Saturday, June 4th.
First day in Morocco: already full of "adventures" ....
To find the rental of the car, we cross the whole parking lot outside the airport of Marrakesh, and we discover that the rental "office" is a car parked under a tree ... A boy with the pigtails welcomes us, and delivers the car, and tells us: "be careful to the cops". We will understand soon ....
On the way to Essaouira, we are hungry. We stop at a cafe, where a little man prepares us an exquisite omelette to eat directly from the pot taking it with the bread ..., accompanied by mint tea. We spend 60 Dirham in all (6 euros). Welcome to Morocco!
Along the way, there are many policemen with mobile speed cameras. Shortly after a town, two of them stop us. They say we were driving at 72 km/h with a limit of 60. We negotiate a 40 Dirham fine, without a receipt .... Again, welcome to Morocco!
We arrive in Essaouira, where Edith welcomes us and hands us over the apartment, located in the Mogador residential complex. Excellent all fish dinner at their restaurant, located in the adjacent Riad Zahra hotel.
Sunday 5th June.
Today, we discover Moulay for the first time, and it still seems to us a fairly wild place ... Piero, an Italian camped here with his camper, will then tell us that, 30 years ago, when the spot was even less equipped, during summer, a community of about 200 people camped here, coming from all over Europe; and everything happened ...
In the morning, we sail with 4.2, to try the spot and in the afternoon with the 3.7, full power. Mid-afternoon, small but nice wave; then progressively more choppy water surface, because of the strong wind. The spot immediately turns out to be very didactic for waveriding, at least in these conditions.
Moulay's children are a show to enjoy. Some of them, with old and improvised equipment, try to windsurf near the shore. Others sell wool hats, and other simple handicrafts. I immediately buy one of their hat.
If you come here and have windsurfing accessories that you don't need (mast foot, extension, small sail, etc.), bring and give them to the local children. You will make them happy!
Monday, June 6th.
Another day of strong wind and waves. We enjoy the morning with clear blue skies and less intense wind. Before beginning our session, we chat pleasantly with Piero, who arrived here from Bologna in a camper and he's a great connoisseur of the spot, and of the uses and customs of Morocco.
I ride with the 4.7 for two hours, being properly powered only for the first hour (then, the sail is a bit big for the wind speed).
The session is a lot of fun.
Then, lunch at home, exploration of the spots of Essaouira and Sidi Kaouki (wind too strong here), and sunset again in Moulay, with very strong wind (3.7 full power), which begins to leave its mark on our arms. I come back to the shore with my tongue out ....
Tuesday, June 7th.
A day to remember ....
In the morning, we enter the water around 10.00, with high but falling tide. I rig the 4.2, accepting to be a bit weak in the first part of the session, and properly powered in the second one. So it is. Regular water level, among waves, and good waves of 1 meter and a half, funny for some good waveriding.
I'm starting to close the fast tack on the 80 liters board, too! I have to find the courage to turn the forward loop. A wonderful blue sky dominates the scene. I go out at 12.30. For lunch, we return home to Essaouira. I fall asleep.
Then, we go and see Essaouira and its Medina, which is spectacular!
Then, we go back to Moulay. Matteo, my friend who is also taking part to the holiday, wants to enjoy a sunset session. I wouldn't like to get into water. I am tired and satisfied.
But.... What waves! I rig the 3.7, sheeting well the downhaul, but not too much the outhaul. Waves of 3 meters. I catch some amazing ones.
We come back to the shore after about an hour, before the wind could start to drop too much for 3.7 and we end our session just before the sun goes into the sea. On the beach, I discover that my flip flops have been stolen! We go to dinner at the Caffè Berbere Restaurant, at Essaouira, in the Medina. A day that we will remember for a long time ends with a flourish.
Wednesday, June 8th.
The first of two days with really strong wind is expected. In the morning, I have fun with 4.2, as long as I can hold it. I try the forward loop. In one of the attempts, I land on my ear .... The helmet I own does not protect me head side enough. If I want to keep trying, I'd better change it. I still catch some really nice waves today. What a pleasure the waveriding, when it's like this.
The downwind reef works well. And I understand that the top condition is with the rising tide (but even with the falling tide it is not that bad - read the review for more details ). At high tide and strong winds, the spot mostly offers bump and jump conditions. At low tide, generally all riders stay ashore (except when good swell is reaching the spot).
The spot gradually gets crowded. I sheet the sail to manage the wind reinforcement, but when I realize that I have people all around, even on the wave, and that I struggle to hold the 4.2, I get out of the water, after 2 hours and 45 minutes of session, satisfied.
We have lunch at the Caffè - Resto on the spot with Piero and Loris (another Venetian who has been on holiday here for weeks), and then we return home to Essaouira to rest. Spending the whole day in Moulay in the sun and the wind stuns you.
In the afternoon, when we return there are 40 knots, and almost mast high waves. Wind is too strong. We hope in the sunset with a drop in the wind, but it will go on like this until 20.30. We don't go into the water, but that's okay. We've been surfing a lot these days.
We stand up, in front of the center of Boujma Guillol, to admire the show staged by Yves Masnada, a strong local, winner of the IWT amateurs, here, a few years ago. He is scary. Super high back and forward loops. Super fast turns. Jibes on the wave. Radical!! waveriding. Chapeau. Strength and technique in strong conditions.
Dinner at the Layounne Restaurant, in Essaouira!
Thursday, June 9th.
We wake up and there is already a nice wind .... As I predicted, we should take advantage of the spot early in the morning, with not too strong wind and just before the peak of the high tide. When we get to Moulay, wind is already strong, but beautiful. Piero is already in the water. I rig the 4.2 and enter the water. First half hour, I enjoy the session, even if the waves start to degrade a bit. They get steep too close to the beach. Then, the wind definitely picks up.
It is no longer possible to make the bottom turn, because the wind push the sail powerfully. But I try to surf anyway. In a cut back on a small wave that is fading and is breaking, I fall and end up with my shoulder on the rear edge of the boom. Ouch, what a hit! Right at the moment, it is not terribly bad. But I guess I will feel pain, after a few hours!
I get out of the water to rig the 3.7. I return quickly into the water, but it is big, too, and my shoulder hurts, and it doesn't allow me to move freely, and therefore safely.
I definitely go out. I hope to recover soon, if not for a possible sunset session in the afternoon, at least for the next day, Friday, when an epic condition is expected (nice swell and less strong wind).
We have lunch with Loris who tells us about his life ...
Afternoon still photonic wind and we do not enter the water. But, it is better, since, finally, we have some rest.....
Friday, June 10th.
They predict lighter wind. High tide is at 11.25 am. We enter the water shortly after 9.30; as for me, with the 4.2. The waves are nice because there is a good swell, but the wind is a bit weak. We sail mostly floating, which for my sore shoulder is not the best .... I thought I could not even get into the water, and instead I manage to do the session, but the shoulder hurts, and it affects me. I leave the water at 11.30. Conservative and cautious exit.
In the afternoon, the conditions should be better.
Moroccan omelette at Caffè Resto run by Bruno and Cecilia, and at 2.30 pm we return into the water. In hindsight, it would have been better to enter the water immediately after the peak of the high tide, with very nice waves and a 4.7 sail.
At 2.30 pm, I enter my 2021 Ezzy Wave 4.7. The tide is ebbing. This time, therefore, as a precaution, I put the surf shoes on. These days, apart from the first session, I have always windsurfed barefoot, without any problems.
The swell is good, the wind still weak, but then it will rise.
With falling tide, the spot is much more treacherous, especially downwind. Better not to get too greedy, because when the waves foam, in that area, the sea bottom is made of an irregular reef, and you have little space to jibe or tack. The upwind wave area works better and is safer; in fact, most of the riders in the water are concentrated there.
I do little. The shoulder hurts, and it bothers me and makes me nervous. It hurts to tack, it hurts to go out holding the boom only with my arms, to get over the foams that are powerful. I go out at 16.00, before the tide drops too much. In the second half of the afternoon, the windward part of the spot will offer epic conditions: waves of about three meters, wide spaced, and wind right for 4.2.
Matteo, my travel companion, does everything. He surfs some notable waves, and at the end of the session he also loses in the waves the equipment he hired from Boujma, and swims to retrieve it. He comes back to shore walking on the reef without too much damage. It's all experience.
In the late afternoon, Soufiane Sahili, local Boujma's right hand man in the management of the rental center, and Yves Masnada enter into the water.
Soufiane is impressive. He also surfs logo high waves that break just before the leeward reef, almost completely uncovered by low tide. Perfect timing and technique allow him to do radical bottoms and cut backs (see photos and videos shot by me), to close with a jibe on the foams, in balance, just before the rocks. Then, in the final phase of the session, he enjoys performing back and push loops. He's amazing.
Saturday and Sunday, 11-12 June.
The last two days, Morocco does not give us wind. We take the opportunity to explore and learn more about Essaouira, and the coast to the South.
In Essaouira, we have breakfast at the "Driss" pastry shop, we walk in the alleys, we enter the shops, and we visit the port. The latter is a profound experience of the East world, for the babel of people busy selling, buying, loading and unloading, etc; for the strong smell of the exposed fish, just caught, and for the miasma coming from the pavement. They offer us to eat freshly caught fish, grilled, in a stall in the port, but we prefer to eat it in those just outside the entrance to the port, if only so as not to bear the nauseating background smell.
On Saturday afternoon, we go to see Cap Sim, a spot for windsurfing and surfing, interesting but uncomfortable to reach (long final dirt road), and we visit the beach of Sidi Kouki.
On Sunday, moreover, we take a trip to Imssouane, 1.5 hours by car, south of Essaouira, a scenically suggestive place, and with some Mediterranean houses on the beach (but also with too much waste in some parts of the beach). But above all, a spot for surfing with spectacular waves (at least, with good swell).
The holiday is coming to an end. It's time to start packaging.
Comparisons and balances are inevitable at the end of this adventure.
South Africa remains unsurpassed, in terms of available spots, and of 360-degree travel experience. The Omani wave is probably the best I've ever ridden (but Masirah, apart from windsurfing, offers almost nothing else). The views of Galicia and Portugal are not ot be discussed.
But Moulay gave us a great experience among the waves: it is very didactic, and it has given us a lot of wind and a lot of sessions this week.
Sooner or later, I will be back.
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More videos about our sessions still to be edited. Stay tuned!