Once again, my summer trip, gypsy style, in Portugal and Galicia was epic. Lots of wind, quality waves, exciting views, and good level windsurfing sessions in spots like Viana do Castelo, Playa San Xurxo, and Playa Traba, that gave me memorable sessions. What else?
WINDSURFING: PORTUGAL AND GALICIA, JUNE / JULY 2022. ANOTHER EPIC HOLIDAY .....
As after last year trip, this year too I return from Portugal and Galicia with the feeling of having been in Paradise, and with the desire to return there as soon as possible. In addition to the elements mentioned in the introduction, which I will describe in more detail below, I must add that, once again, it was the meetings with people that really gave the added value of this experience. And I must say that the overnight stay in campsites, beyond the magnificent experience of nature contact, albeit with some inconvenience, has allowed me to get in touch with people even more easily, and to meet some really special ones, such as Toby and Natalie, a young couple from Berlin, met in Viana, and with whom we then spent part of the following days in Galicia.
Before moving on to the news, I want to emphasize that the views of Galicia, once again, proved to be extraordinary, almost touching. Last year, I discovered the extraordinary Playa de la Nemina (read the article); this year, I discovered places like Playa San Xurxo, and Playa Doninos, which in the morning, on a sunny day, look like natural pools, surrounded by rocks and very green promontories. Their turquoise sea has nothing to envy to that of Sardinia, in Italy. Peace and stunning colors.
And do we want to talk about the temperatures of Galicia? The ocean is a natural conditioner, regardless we are speaking about South Africa, Morocco, Portugal, or Galicia. In Galicia, on windy days, during my stay, we had 22-24 degrees during the day, and 16-17 at night. You sleep very well, you do windsurfing with the 4/3 wetsuit, barefoot (ocean at about 18 °C); in the morning and in the evening, the undersigned went around with a wool hat (bought at Moulay ...). As I write, here in Monza, while I am writing, it is 34 degrees, which is hard to get down at night.
But no more further chatting; let's move on to the report of the vacation days, and the windsurfing sessions, some of which are truly unforgettable.
Viana Do Castelo - 29 june 2022. Sunset session.
To get to Portugal from Monza (Milan), by car, takes almost two days, about 2000 km, and 20 hours of driving, excluding stops. Approximately two hours and 200 km less for Galicia. Many say I am crazy. I reply that they do not know what they are missing ... Travel is already a holiday, a kaleidoscope of landscapes, places, and worlds that you cross. I stop to rest every 3 hours of driving, roughly, or anyway when I need it. It is important not to drive when tired. Of course, if I were retired, or did not have family commitments, I would manage it even more calmly, and I would enjoy the trip even more, even taking 3-4 days, with tourist or windsurfing stops along the itinerary.
Cost: around 800 euros round trip, from Monza. Unfortunately, this year with the increase in fuel prices, there has been an increase of around 25%, compared to last year. But the advantage, once you arrive on site, is to have your own equipment, even two boards, maybe a bike, and obviously the car already available, without the need to rent it. And then, there is the beauty of leaving without plans, and without any duties to think to. Asked in advance for vacation at work, I basically decided on Sunday 26 June to leave on Tuesday 28, given the excellent wind forecast, in the first few days, also as for swell. As usual, the main stumbling block was the wife ....
Anyway, I arrived in Viana around 17.00 on the 29th, a bit tired, but it was enough to look out over the dune of Praia do Cabedelo (read spot review), to regain energy .... Side / side off wind which needed a 4.7, and clean swell, of 1.5-2 meters near the shore. I rigged the Ezzy wave 2021 4.7, prepared the Tabou Pocket 94 (in retrospect, the Da Curve 88 2020 would have been great), and I have sailed from 18.00 to 19.30 in the water, with a dozen other riders. How wonderful Viana is with swell: safe, easy and with quality conditions, for a wonderful down the line riding!
Once out of the water (I parked at the entrance to the beach near FeelViana, where there are also showers and toilets), as I said, I had a pleasant meeting with Tobia, who addressed me in a decent Italian. Tobia speaks German (of course), Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, and English. Well done.
Summer is beautiful, especially in countries like this, because it gives these endless light days. In Portugal, the sun sets (in this period) at 21.30 (in Galicia at 22.30). I enjoyed the sunset, I unrigged and put everything in order calmly, and I ate something on the fly.
Unfortunately, I didn't have time to take photos of the session.
Praia do Guincho, June 30, 2022
On June 30th I made a big mistake .... Instead of staying in Viana, which, as Tobia later told me, gave another beautiful day with swell, I decided to go to Praia do Guincho, a well-known spot near Cascais, to stay there until Saturday 2 July. But when I arrived at Guincho (4 hours by car, with some neurotic traffic around Porto and Lisbon as well), I realize that the conditions are really challenging. I went out at Guincho in 2018, with wind good for 4.2 and waves of 2 meters, in reasonable conditions. But today, the shorebreak is 1.5 / 2 meters high, close to shore, and what is worse, the breakers are very close to each otherr, with a period of 3-4 seconds. If a first one wipes out you, the following ones can disintegrate you. Once offshore (100 meters), there are sets of 4-5 meters ..... which if you were Thomas Traversa, or Graham Ezzy, must be even pretty funny. To complicate everything, around 12.30, the wind below the shore is weak, and not always able to push adequately to overcome the breakers. Then, when I leave the spot, around 2.30 pm, wind becomes really strong, adding further difficulty.
There is no one in the water, but a downwind kitesurfer. I wait a while, but then I decide not to ruin my holidays right away. The exit would be very demanding, and at risk. Instead of taking a walk in Cabo da Roca, I decide to go and scout the spots on the Costa do Caparica, south of Lisbon. The first ones (those further north) offer small waves, good to surf close to the shore, but little wind. Those further south, like Praia Moreno, where the kiters are, offer wind for 4.7 (about 20 knots), and some fairly clean sets that could be fun. But the conditions are not really nice, and I, after all this driving, have lost the desire to enter the water at 16.00 .... In short, I have done a bullshit .... lesson learned. Wasted day.
I decide to return to Viana immediately, to dedicate myself a day of absolute relaxation, on Friday. I arrive in Viana at 10.30 pm.
Viana do Castelo, July 1, 2022
I settle down at the Orbitur campsite in Viana. I don't understand those who have posted negative reviews on Google. The campsite is an excellent solution, in a splendid position under a pine forest, close to the dune, behind Praia do Cabedelo. The showers and toilettes are clean and efficient, and the staff is very kind. I set up the tent, and I relax, dozing on my inflatable mattress. I know and chat with Facundo, an Argentine guy, who lives in Mexico, where he is a Diving instructor. He is on vacation here for two months to see his daughter who lives with his ex-wife, who works as a kitesurfing instructor from Feelviana. The world is beautiful because it is full of people, living in so many different ways.
Today, I don't want to drive a single kilometer. I wait comfortably for the wind. At around 12.30, the Nortada begins to enter, on time. There is no swell. I enter the water at 13.30 with my Tabou Da Curve 88 2020, set as thruster with standard fins, and the Ezzy Wave 4.7 2021. 4/3 Wetsuit , bare feet, and off I go.
Since there is no swell, I go to the leeward part of the spot, where it always gets a little more wave. I see some kiters getting some waves there. So, I go downwind of the rocks in the middle of the bay, and actually find some waves of 1.5 / 2 meters which can be ridden, near the shore. Actually, it's more of a beach break, but it's powerful. The wind in that part of the bay is side on, not side off.
The Tabou da Curve 88 begins to get me the lust that will then give me in abundance in the rest of the holiday, in Galicia. It glides easily, it is fast, has a lot of lead in tacking (and thanks to the regular water surface offshore, I start to close many, in a row). It sails upwind excellently, and especially in riding waves, it goes where you want ... It turns tight both in the bottom turn and in the cut back, maintaining a lot of speed in both. Bravo Thomas (Traversa), and well done, as always, Fabien (Vollenveider): together, they made a good project. As soon as possible, here you'll have my board complete review.
I enjoy a bit in this downwind side of the spot, discovering however, a disturbing rock outcropping far from the coast, which to pay close attention to (especially in tough conditions). After a couple of hours around there, I start to be overpowered. The Nortada, now, beats down, and I begin to think about going back upwind; also thanks to the overpowering, in a few rides, I am again in front of the walkway that leads to the campsite.
I go back to the tent, eat something, take some pictures, and rest for a while. How nice to know that the wind will go on for hours anyway, and there is no need to hurry.
Back in the water in the upwind side of the spot, with the Ezzy Elite 4.2 2019, and with the same board. Here, windward, the water surface is flat, or slightly chopped, good for slalom, or freestyle in these conditions. I take the opportunity to improve in some maneuvers, even if I am a bit overpowered even with the 4.2!
I get out of the water shortly after 18.00, and I go to enjoy the evening at the campsite, where Tobia and Natalie also stay with their van.
The next day we leave for Galicia, with destination San Xurxo, near Ferrol.
Playa San Xurxo, July 2, 2022
Galicia welcomes me again this year with its wonderful light, its green forests, its blue Rias, which look like fjords, and its immense white sand beaches. And its emerald sea.
I settle at Camping As Cabazas, in front of Playa Fragata, which is adjacent to Playa San Xurxo, and a 2-minute drive from its windsurfing spot.
The campsite is basic, but nothing is lacking and even here the staff is very kind. Hearing Spanish language makes me feel even more on vacation, and makes me happy. The scenery is fascinating: a slope covered with lawn goes down gently towards the beach just below, surrounded by reddish rocks, and green headlands. I settle in a panoramic point, from which I will enjoy dinners in front of memorable sunsets. I am one among the few in a tent. The others, mostly, are in equipped vans, campers, or caravans. I have to seriously think about a nice van, too ..... Tobia and Natalie also join me, and in the morning, in Santiago de Compostela, also my windsurfers friends land with their flight: Massimo and Giovanni, from Brescia, and Marco and Andrea, from Bergamo, with whom we immediately start exchanging tips for the spots.
In short, I, on Saturday, ride at Playa San Xurxo, they enjoy the leeward side of Playa Doninos (Playa Penencia, to be right). As soon as possible, I will also update the review of the Galician spots.
Playa San Xurxo immediately turns out to be a playground: not big waves, but magnificently flat water surface between glassy waves, side off wind near the shore, where the waves peak is positioned, and side on wind offshore. Being a very wide bay, but closed to East and West, only the N/NW swell enters here, and the wind doesn't have time to raise an annoying chop. And the natural scenery is enchanting.
You park in a country lane, about 200 meters from the shore, and then, with patience, you take your equipment to the beach. But the effort is fully rewarded by the wonderful conditions offered by the spot. I spend a couple of hours here, enjoying pure down the line, in easy and safe conditions. The Tabou Da Curve 88 makes me enjoy a lot.
On the other hand, friends enjoy Playa Penencia, even there with side off wind, and good waves. The only drawback to that spot is that it is a bit hidden, with a winding road to reach it. But ocean spots are often like that.
Playa San Xurxo, July 3, 2022
On Sunday, after several spots checkings, we all go out together to Playa San Xurxo, which gives us a day to remember. The morning begins with an overcast sky, but then it opens up a bit, the weather becomes variable, and at times sunny. We almost all have a great time. Only Massimo pays for a mistake he did when choosing the board to bring with him: 85 liters are very little for his 81 kgs. Andrea, who has been to Maui and Australia, appreciates both the wave quality and the direction of the wind. But also Marco and Giovanni show excellent technique. Here, you must have patience to ride upwind, even floating, to catch the peak of the waves, and start riding them where they get steeper.
And today Playa San Xurxo gives away only 30-40% of its maximum potential. At the end of the holiday, we begin to reason about coming back here in spring or autumn, with some important swell, to enjoy the best conditions that the spot can offer, and which can be seen in this spectacular video with Riccardo Campello. I enjoy a beautiful sunset, walking and chatting by the sea shore with Natalie and Toby.
Playa Traba, July 4, 2022
The swell that accompanied me so far from Portugal practically ran out on Sunday. San Xurxo, and Doninos do not offer waves, therefore. I take a short coastal trek in the morning, departing from the leeward side of San Xurxo, heading for Mirador de la Ila Herbosa. Then, I return to San Xurxo, and I also go to explore the beaches of Santa Comba and Ponzos (but the wind is too side on, and there is only beach breaks, in both of them). In the end, we decide to go to Playa Traba, about an hour and a half drive from San Xurxo, and which I had already scoured last year, together with the nearby Playa do Soesto (spot also called Laxe, improperly).
With friends, we all meet at the spot around 15.00. Playa Traba gives us a beautiful day. Indeed in retrospect, having then ridden here also two days later, I must say that, on Monday 4, the spot also gives us some nice waves, quite clean, even if not glassy like those of San Xurxo. There are about 3 meters offshore, which becomes 1-2 near the shore. The Tabou Da Curve 88 does so good here too. I catch a wave that gets pretty steep, and I scream for happiness, as I ride it. Marco, on the shore, witnesses the scene.
We go out at low tide, rising. If in the early afternoon, going out requires experience, but it is relatively easy, gradually, with the tide coming in, the entry into the water becomes more and more tricky. On the shore, a very strong undertow has formed, a river that drags you into the water, up to the point where the first waves break, at a step that has appeared in the sandy bottom. We all get some nice washes, but they're part of the game. Luckily my sails are Ezzy. And also my mast ....
The day ends beautifully at the apartment rented by friends in Betanzos, where Marco expertly cooks us two big fishes. There is talk of windsurfing, and of spots, of course, but also of wives and ex-wives ..... Nice day to mark on the calendar. I thank Waterwind for giving me the opportunity to have these beautiful experiences.
Playa San Xurxo, July 5, 2022
Since we are enthusiastic about the conditions that San Xurxo gave us on Sunday, we aim to ride out here again. But San Xurxo, unfortunately, gives us poor conditions (the only real bad day in my whole holiday, considering that I went to look for trouble, by myself, at Praia do Guincho). The waves will be very small, and concentrated in a narrow area, and only at the peak of the low tide, with light and unstable wind. It also happens to me the misfortune of being hit by a 10-year-old German boy, one of the few who can catch the waves with his light weight. The monkey is an ugly beast, and Mika is so engrossed in his waveriding that he doesn't see me while I'm going out, and so I also have the right of way; with his fins, he damages my beloved Tabou Da Curve 88. It's a damage that can be remedied with the work of a good repairer (Seatex Boards in Torbole sul Garda has already been contacted). Luckily, Martin the boy's father is insured. In the evening at the campsite we have a nice chat, in which he tells me about the spots they ride in Germany, Denmark, and Holland. In Italy, we say that not all evils come to harm.
Playa Traba, 6 July 2022
On 6 July, the holiday ends with a flourish, from the windsurfing point of view. After a walk in Cabo Prior, I reach my friends in Playa Traba, around at 13,00. The wind already looks pretty strong. This time I immediately rig the Ezzy Elite 4.2, like Giovanni, who enters with a Neil Pryde Combat 4.2 (I think); the others enter with the 4.7, and except Massimo, then, they will all change.
Playa Traba gives us another fun session, with waves that are sometimes chaotic, and that get steep quite close to the shore, but still good for some waverding, or some good jumps (see upcoming video). After all, I don't know how many other European spots are able to give similar waves in July .... Unfortunately, I cannot use the damaged Da Curve 88. I want it to return as good as new, and I don't want water to enter it, nor, as suggested by the contacted repairer, I want to make the repair more complicated by adding products such as Solarex.
So, I have to settle for riding with the Tabou Pocket 94, which, once again, shows to be a beautiful board for the lake, or for the bump and jump at the sea (it is basically a freestylewave): but, here it turns too little tight, and its 94 liters are excessive in riding in rough seas, and in jumps. Moreover, at the end of the session I should also switch to a 3.7 sail.
Massimo has fun with his Simmer Flywave 85, which in these conditions is the right board (but he won't let me try it ...., ah, ah). In the middle of the afternoon, friends get out of the water, to wash their equipment, wash themselves (here in Traba there are showers and public toilets on the spot), and pack everything up for departure; they have the return flight from Santiago at 22.30. I still do half an hour, but then, given the board inadequacy, I get out of the water, however, satisfied with the day.
Before returning to the campsite, I go to see Playa do Soesto, which, with rising tide, turns out to be really very interesting: side wind (while in Traba it is side on), and beautiful waves in the middle of the bay, and downwind (here, however there are also some rocks, and probably a rip curl that pushes offshore). A spot to try, for sure.
On Thursday I start my journey back to Italy, by car. The easy way.... I leave at 12.00 after enjoying another beautiful sunny morning, at the camping and in the bay, right in front. I speak to an Austrian couple with a very little girl of a few months .... (how many Italians would do it?), They are traveling in a van for 4 months. And with an Estonian girl, who does surfing (the bay below the campsite is great for surfing); she is here alone in the tent, after being here with her boyfriend in the spring. Tough people.
The next day, Friday, I also stop in Gruissan (Southern France), to enjoy two hours of north wind with the 4.2, in super flat water. Gruissan is always fun and didactic (I close a Duck Jibe, at supersonic speed, all completely gliding), even after having ridden wonderful waves. I just hate spot sessions with chop, or gusty wind.
In the night, I arrive home, after a passage also in Sanremo, to retrieve a surfboard for a friend.
The trip to Portugal and Galicia leaves me something deep inside: beautiful sensations, memories, and images. I know that this trip, together with the winter one to South Africa, will become a habit of this summer period, as long as it is possible.
Click the links below, for the slidegallery:
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Link to the videos of the sessions: