The 1st of May 2015, taking advantage of the feast day, lots of us reached the spot of Andora (Liguria - Italy), to enjoy the strong expected Soth West wind. We were not alone ... a crowd of windsurfers, also from outside the region, as I had never seen in Andora was waiting for us.
Windsurf session: Andora (Liguria, Italy)
Of waterwind gruop of windsurfers, besides me, there were: Enzo, Nino, Rolando with a friend, Michele, Angelo and Carlo, and later also Norby came.
Rolando at 9.30 was already in the water. In fact, the South West wind got up quickly at the beginning of the morning and reached soon 30 knots, with a wave initially not significant.
Enzo and Nino and me left Milan later, and arrived to Andora little after 11,00. The view that appeared us at the spot was immediately noticeable: more than fifty windsurfers already in the water, and the same probably on the the shore rigging their equipment.
After parking the car, we begin to think to the equipment most suitable to get into the water.
With the anemometer, on the usual reef in front of the Windsurfing Club Andora, I measure an unstable wind, oscillating between 30 and 16 knots. Unfortunately, it will remain so unstable all day, probably due to the fact that the wind, high in the sky, is too oriented from the west, and the sky is cloudy. In such conditions, you don't have thermal wind from the south, good to sweep away the clouds, and to guide the overall wind more from the South, so that it can reach the spot up to the shore. My opinion is that Andora, infact, works better when the weather forecast (with the South West wind) predict almost clear sky. Otherwise, the morphology of the coast disturbs the wind. One of the next times, with the South West Wind, I would try Albenga, perhaps less hidden from South West Wind.
I decide to rig my new Ezzy Tiger 4.2 2014, but also the Point 7 Sado 4.7 which I leave with no boom (because I have not two!). I also prepare both my boards: the Tabou 3S 86 and RRD 111 FSW. My idea, given the instability of the wind, is to go out with 4.2, not to be too overpowered under the gusts, which are beginning to be bad, to be combined with the 111, to not suffer too much on the lows. I leave the 4.2 more powerful, and 4.7 with the downhaul more tighted..
Enzo and Nino (heavier than me), opt for sails over 5 meters.
I enter into water just before 13,00.
The shorebreak begins to be insidious, mainly because the instability of the wind. It is not easy to acquire, and then maintain enough speed to overcome the waves. In addition, it is not easy to comprehend how the wind has turned south on the sea surface near the shore, so that you have to bear off with decision to start.
Offshore, the wind is less irregular; it is strong (it will be above 30 knots), and allows you to go upwind and to gain water. Offshore, I find myself in the waves, yet not too big, but not irrilevant either. Waves excite me incredibly.
In these conditions, the choice of the equipment proves to be perfect. I can not suffer too much on the wind gusts, and keep planing in the lows. In water, there is a quite a good traffic.
After two rides, I return to shore. Enzo and Nino repent the choice of sails of 5 square meters, and prepare smaller sails. Enzo came out with the 116 board, and offshore he found himself going incredibly fast.
I chat a little bit with Marco from Alessandria. He tells me that, for him, today, it is not easy to overcome the initial shorebreak. He also has been in Capo Verde, where conditions are more demanding in this sense. If we do not learn to overcome the shorebreak of Andora ....
Offshore, now, Waves are bigger, and the wind, in the gusts, is even stronger. The anemometer of Capo Mele will score 40 knots in the afternoon. Off shore, I find myself surfing one wave that will be about 3 meters. They're beginning to break even here. I get the feeling, that I love, to accelerate significantly going down from the wave. I bear off to accommodate the wave, but then I realize that I would finish straight at the mouth of the river, which is not a nice place to land ....(rocks everywhere). The waves, in fact, are oriented towards the North East. I leave them, I go upwind, and return to shore near my exit point.
I go out again. Now the gusts are really tough (for me, it would be necessary a 3.7), and waves big enough, some really huge (never seen such, at Andora). Ashore, the breakers are, in some cases, over a meter and a half high, and off ...
Off, there are some discrete mountains .... It's almost impossible not to fly passing the tops of the waves. I try to stay in control even on bad gusts bad, going close upwind, without accelerating too much. So, suddenly, I find myself on the crest of a wave almost stopped, and I look beyond ... I remain impressed (these are sensations of a moment, of course) by the height of the wave. It will be almost as tall as the mast .... so 4 meters!
Returned to the shore, Norby confirms the feeling, telling to have encountered similar waves during his rides. I have not dreamed .... I tell him I'm afraid to jump them. Michele, also there, suggests, in extreme cases, to let fly the equipment downwind during the jump.
While returning, the gusts are very strong, and I struggle to stay in control, even though the 4.2 helps me (with 4.7 I would have died ...). I think, if wind does not give up a little, I'll give up ...
We remain a bit on the beach to assess the situation, hoping that, at least, may become more constant.
It's hard to stay on the beach with all this wind around... I decide to go out for another time, and it's a miracle if I do not commit a fatal error. Once again, I overcome the first shorebreak, but, when I am 60 - 70 meters from the shoreline, I fall, for another wind low. Not bad, I think. Easier to make the waterstart here, than getting through the shorebreak before. But as I prepare for the maneuver, a great breaker reaches me (it will be about two meters high), and it pushes me with all the equipment, making us to surf .... almost to the shore. When I emerge, I realize, with horror, that I am only five to six meters from one of the breakwaters perpendicular to the shore, that you have along the beach. I can not go where I want: the waves, and, above all, the strong drift around the tip of the breakwaters prevail. I have my new Ezzy tiger and his new tree, but also my beloved RRD FSW 111 ... It is a while..., I do not know if it is luck or intuition .... but I understand what is the solution of the problem. The drift pushes around and downwind the breakwater. I do not have to swim towards the shore (and so upwind the breakwater), but I have to leave myself go with the drift. And so it is. In a moment, I find myself downwind of the breakwater, with the equipment, and so I am safe. Now I can swim/walk (I'm in shallow waters), towards the beach. Let's say that, if a wave had come at the right time, I would end up tumbling to the rocks .... Graced by the waves, I decide that for the day it may be enough .....
During the filming of the day, to say the truth, I have seen some sails completely destroyed by shorebreak, and even some broken masts .... There is no need to try your luck.
What about days like that? Personally, not I do not judge them, of course, the most memorable days. With a wind too strong, but more consistent, to better get through the waves, we would have had a lot more fun. But, personally, I have learned that this is a necessary apprenticeship, to gain confidence, experience, ability and malice in these most demanding conditions, so that you can have fun more in subsequent occasions.
Aloha. Fabio Muriano
For the slidegallery in high resolution, click here.
The videos of the day (by Fabio, Mirco, and Rolando. Thanks to Mirco and Rolando for sharing!)
Mircowave Costa's video
The video that Rolando sent us