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Once again, it is France that takes us back to the waves at sea, after returning from South Africa. Three-day trip, in excellent company, with windsurfing sessions at Carro, and at La Coudouliere.


Windsurfing, report: Carro and Coudouliere (France), 10-12 March 2023


By now, an increasingly close-knit group of travel and windsurfing sessions companions is forming around Waterwind, with whom I organize transfers to fun and pleasant sea spots. And this helps to repay me for the many efforts I put into keeping this website alive.

This time, the "dream team" was made up not only of me, but also of Adriano and Max from Brescia, who were then joined, on Saturday and Sunday, by Alessandro and his son Filippo, and Ale (Scuffia), who came out in spots other than ours, but who joined us for dinner on a Saturday night.

Once the main group gathered in Tortona, we started the trip trying to figure out which spot to prefer for Friday. The forecasts called for very strong winds, with gusts above 40 knots. La Coudouliere seemed inadvisable to us (and in fact we later learned that her cliff claimed many victims that day).

As alternatives, I had thought of and proposed Almanarre (where, with very strong winds at Coudouliere, in February 2022, I had a good session with strong but manageable wind and fun waves in front of Le Robinson); or Bandol, which I'd be curious to try, because it seems interesting when the Coudouliere is not rideable, as here the wind (from the West) is less intense, it blows side-shore, and the waves are tidy; as a last spot, I had thought of Carro, where I have long wanted to go out with a strong westerly wind, as it arrives on the spot with a side-off direction, and the waves remain smooth and glassy.

In the end, Friday, also having seen the values detected by the anemometers at Hyeres and at Coudou (average around 37 knots, gusts at 46-47), we headed straight for Carro, enlivened throughout the journey by the tireless stories told by Max...., who also made available his beautiful VW transporter Combi.

Carro, upon our arrival, looked like a playground.


P1060121 P1060116

Windsurf Francia 002


In fact, the spot showed a good number of riders in the water, with Thomas Traversa fluttering with beautiful aerials, waves of about a meter and a half, smooth and steep, and a side wind of 18-20 knots.

We all rigged 4.7-4.8 sails, and entered the water at 16.00, just when the games were over..... I passed the difficult shorebreak, sailed an outgoing tack planing, and I practically remained without wind.... I landed at the rocky plateau in front of Le Marine Shop after 30 minutes, which proved to be very treacherous (nice rock step, with moderate undertow). Luckily, the sea wasn't particularly rough and I got out of the water without damages.

We later learned that Carro was beautiful in the central hours, during which those present went out with 3.7-4.2 sails.

Carro test, with strong westerly wind, once again postponed.... Too bad, because a nice sunset, after 6 hours drive, would have been just fine.

A little disappointed, but not disheartened (the true windsurfer accepts these days with philosophy...), we returned to Sanary sur Mer, where we had rented an apartment. Self check-in with some complications, and finally at 21.00 we were faced with a nice dish of linguine (kind of pasta) with tuna.


Windsurf Carro Francia 001

Windsurf Carro Francia 002


The following day, a powerful mistral and sunny day awaited us, to play at Coudouliere, a stone's throw from the rented apartment.

In fact, looking at the forecasts, it was understood that Carro would be beautiful again (as was later confirmed to us by a friend from Turin), but we didn't want to make the road again to reach the Martigues spot, and cross again Marseille traffic.

So, early in the morning, we took a place in the parking lot behind the Coudouliere beach, where the wind, upon our arrival, was already quite strong, with an expectation of an increase.

We rigged the 4.2, and all three of us entered the water. In the meantime, Alessandro and his son Filippo also joined us.

I did three sessions in the morning at la Coudouliere, always with the Ezzy Elite 4.2, sometimes left fatter, sometimes thinner. During the morning, I also changed fins to the board (Tabou Da Curve 88 2020), removing the original ones, and switching to the K4 ones, to make it a little softer underfoot, when the sail was a bit too powerful, as already successfully tested in South Africa.

Saturday was not an easy day at Coudouliere, with unstable wind, at times strong, tending to be oriented from the West, and with big waves, up to 3 metres, also conspicuously oriented from the West. Also on Saturday, the reef of the port claimed a few victims (that's why windsurf shops thrive in these parts).

The instability of the wind, and the heavy sea from the West required experience in order not to make mistakes and end up near the breakwaters cliff of the port.

On the other hand, it was less dangerous to have fun surfing the waves (albeit small) under Cap Negre, except for paying attention to the shallow and rocky seabed (basically flat, anyway) in the area, where the waves break. I gave it a go, but I have to say that it took me all weekend to figure out how to ride them while staying attached to the lip. After so much side-off wind in South Africa, where surfing waves, even big ones, is much easier, returning to side-on conditions is almost traumatic....

Even watching the videos, which I then shot from Cap Negre, in which I filmed the local riders, I understood that you have to start with the bottom, waiting a lot, staying on the lip of the wave until the last moment, to start only when it is about to break. And then you have to do a tight bottom, to immediately look for the lip, going up the wave in forward clew switch..... (see also slidegallery of the day).

Instead, I often started from the wall of the wave, and acquiring too much speed also due to the strong wind that hit the sail from behind. Once the bottom was finished, the wave lip was 3-4 meters further back, upwind....

On Sunday, taking advantage of what I saw the local riders do, I caught the waves better, even if they were smaller. And I just wanted to get back in the water as soon as possible to try again.....

During the morning, moments alternated in which my Ezzy Elite 4.2 was more underpower, and others in which I thought I had to sheet it because it was too powerful. I must say, however, that the choice to use an 88-litre board, radical as the Tabou Da Curve, is confirmed as valid, because it helps me better manage the moments when the wind is absent, without penalizing me much in the possibility of tight turns, especially when I use it with K4 fins.

I tried to make the most of the morning as much as possible, fearing the usual significant increase in wind in the afternoon.

I understood, however, that it was better to end the third session, when a couple of really big waves whipped me not very far from the harbor reef: like a double-edged razor, the first made me fall in a wind drop, and the second broke on me dragging me for a while. I would have done a few more rides, and instead I did a water start towards the beach, and a tactical retreat, before finding myself in trouble, moreover a little tired from the previous sessions.

With Massimo, Adriano, Alessandro and Filippo, we went to eat at the Patisserie/Boulangerie (highly recommended) in the square, just south of the spot. It's nice when you can enjoy a day full of windsurfing and wind, being able to also afford a break to eat calmly and relax during the day. The idea was to do another session in the second half of the afternoon.




Windsurf Francia 003


Unfortunately, things didn't go as we hoped. In the afternoon, at Coudouliere, the wind remained unstable, and from the West, probably due to the continuous passage of clouds, and currents at high altitudes which disturbed the wind. Together with the very rough sea, this made the trip rather tiring and not very fun.

We went to Le Brusc to see the condition. Upon our arrival, the spot showed nice conditions for a freestyle/bump and jump outing. Time to mount the 4.7, and the wind began to drop across the bay. Filippo and Adriano had some rides (see slidegallery), but without particular satisfaction.

We put everything away and went shopping so that we could all prepare dinner in the apartment together. Alessandro (Scuffia) also joined, after riding at la Madrague. Nice evening all together, in which we talked about windsurfing, about sons, and we drank a bit (good French white wine chosen by Massimo).


Windsurf Francia 001

Windsurf Francia 006


The next day, strong wind from the North West was forecast, in the early hours of the morning, decreasing around 10.00. We tried to be on the spot as soon as possible, and we entered the water around 9.00. Some riders had already been in the water for a while, with 3.7 - 4.2, enjoying easy but fun conditions both for the more side wind direction and for the smaller wave.

Unfortunately, even on Sunday, shortly after our arrival, the wind dropped a bit. We did about an hour in the water, fun and easy, especially in the first part of the session, when the wind under Cap Negre was still pretty stiff, and oriented almost from the north. It was fun playing with the one-metre waves. Half a meter more would not have been bad. Filippo often accompanied me on the ride, trying to stay as windward as possible on the port tack, to catch the waves, under the promontory, where they are a little bigger.

A very didactic Coudouliere, also very tolerant of any errors. As I have often said, the Coudouliere has many faces.


Once the wind dropped further, we prepared for the return home, disarming calmly. I witnessed a nice exchange of views between architects and engineers on how to set up a van for windsurfing (nice to meet AleVenice again).

Then, we went back to the pastry shop...., and left for home.

In short, we have not encountered epic conditions, even if the sea and the waves, on a sunny mistral day, are always beautiful. The added value was undoubtedly the company.

Now, we need to think about the next trips (and during the return trip, we also talked about Chile...).


Slidegallery of Saturday at La Coudouliere

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Saturday's Coudou video



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