For our usual June windsurfing holiday, this year we have been in Dakhla, Morocco, and in addition to the best-known spots, we have extensively explored and tested a spot that is still almost virgin, and which has considerable potential.
Windsurfing, holiday reports: Dakhla, Lassarga, Morocco (Western Sahara)
It was truly a last-minute vacation, the one I organized for this june, but given the amount of wind we had, I would say it was worth stressing a bit to put all things together. The main idea was to go to Portugal, but the weather forecast did not ensure a full week of wind (then, an excellent Nortada has blown over the PWA of Viana do Castelo, right from Thursday, June 14).
We have also rejected France and Sardinia, because we can also go there for shorter periods during the year. Fuerteventura has remained a very desirable option until the last days, since we wanted to try Glass Beach, or some other spots on the North coast. But at the end, Tuesday evening (June 5 ...) we read on the Kite and Windsurfing Guide Dakhla Lassarga spot review (which is compared to Ponta Preta, in Cape Verde, but with sand ....), and we started dreaming ..... On Wednesdays we sent a few emails to book, and on Friday (June 8th ....), at 18:30 we took off from Malpensa to Casablanca, and then to Dakhla. We arrived at Ocean Vagabond Camp in Lassarga, at midnight (for us it was 2 am, Italian time).
The next day, we began enjoying the playground ...
When we woke up, from our bungalow veranda, which overlooked the deserted beach of the spot, we immediately noticed some swell waves (not windswell), of good consistency (for Andrea already worrying ...). We immediately started to scour the spot beach, and soon we got acquainted with the local guys of the ION Club in the spot (where we had rented the equipment), as well as the Spanish director of the center, Curro de Laca.
After having breakfast, since the wind was still unstable, we were suggested to enjoy the waves with the surfboard. Andrea preferred to save energy. I got myself an easy board, and I threw myself into the fray with the local boys, to try again, after the Cornish experience, to do something with surfboard. It should be noted that we arrived in the Ramadan period, and for the local boys (without eating an drinking, from dawn to sunset), the physical effort and the thirst feeling due to saltiness were not trivial. But the wave drugs, even for them, had the upper hand.
Lassarga, with swell, offers truly exceptional conditions (read the detailed Dakhla spots review). On the Saturday when we arrived, the wave sets were of average height around one meter, with a few of a meter and a half; even if not so high they were steep, smooth and regular, as in few spots you can meet, and with a period of 8-10 seconds. And the wind is offshore oriented ....
For my first time, I was able to surf the waves, standing up on the board, as evidenced by the photo above. Beautiful sensations.
But, after an hour, around at 12.00, the wind, as almost always it will do in the following days, began to blow decisively, and the windsufer's monkey began to scream ....
So, I brought the surfboard back to the ION center, and I got the windsurf equipment ready.
Curro took 6 Fanatic windsurf boards and a dozen North Sails rigs for us (and for some other customers) from the Lagoon ION Club. The boards ranged from the brand new Fanatic Grip 2018 (82 liters), to a Quad 90 2017, a 93 liter Skate, a freewave 2014 (TE 116), and a 2015 (CWS 106), and a Fanatic Hawk 110. The sails were mostly Super Hero (wave sails), and some E-Type (freeride no camber). In short, in seven full days of windsurfing, we could test a lot of equipment.
The first day, given the lighter wind (but the biggest wave), we entered the water with boards with some volume (Me with the freewave 106, Andrea with the 116), and with the Super Hero 5.3 and 5.6.
Even with windsurf board, I was able to make the first waverding experiences in safety, even if the positioning near the point break, was more difficult than with the surfboard. The locals (Hamid and Ali) jibed or tacked perfectly near the point break, when they saw a good set of waves coming, they got on a wave, and they surfed continuously for a few hundred meters, with numerous bottoms and cut backs. But they are professional athletes: Hamid has recently participated to the IWT event in Moulay ...
It is still printed in my mind the image of Hamid, who surfs a wave for a long time, disappearing, and reappearing above its lip, in some aerials ...., while I go back to the point break, a little further offshore.
With less timing, with different dives, and with a little luck, sometimes I managed to position myself in the right place to catch some waves (even if never at the point of their greatest height, sigh ...), and I found myself a few times in the heavenly condition ..... to be lifted by the wave, and start the descent. Crazy feeling ....
I also managed a few times to ride up to the shore, placing easy bottoms, but finding myself more in trouble in the cut backs that often required a much stronger inclination in the direction of the wave inside. With the offshore wind, which tended to push away from the lip, cut back required some technique. So, often, I lost the wave, or I found myself for a while on the lip, without knowing what to do.
Moreover, the wind condition almost completely off shore facilitated the opening of the sail in the cut back, but (in addition to some difficulties in beach start, also because of the simultaneous shore break), did not make easy the initial acceleration to get on the wave. The videos and photos, unfortunately, do not properly testify all my work ... , but some moments of excitement on the waves has been immortalized ... To give you an idea of the spot, below, I add a few photos of the local riders in action at Lassarga, with waves similar to those we enjoyed.
In the following days, the wind has gradually grown, not too much on Sunday, but from Monday to Wednesday, about 30 knots, almost all days. We could still play with some swell waves, for a few days, and above all to switch to smaller boards, which we had the pleasure of testing.
In particular, we had the opportunity to try both the Fanatic Quad TE 90, 2017, and the Fanatic Grip TE 82 2018, which I particularly liked (in another article, we will tell our impressions about that gear). In short, the Quad seemed a little less reactive than the Fanatic Quad 2013, I have.
The Fanatic Grip, also tested in a quad fin set (it has 5 fin boxes), as also reported by the French magazine Windmag, has proved to be an exceptional board, very fast, and ready to perform all the radical curves you want. Pure pleasure.
The air temperature, and, partially, even the water temperature, turned out to be a surprise. In Morocco, on the coast, in June, it is not absolutely hot!
In the early days, we knew a very nice French couple from Paris who enjoyed Lassarga like us, alternating Wave surfing, windsurfing and kitesurfing. The few customers present in the structure and in the spot (Ocean vagabond, here, has just open since April) have allowed us to know each others easily and quickly, and to enjoy the spot in the water in complete relaxation. Even when William, a Belgian guy from Antwerp arrived, there have never been more than 4 windsurfers in the water, and one/two kiters ..... A completely different situation compared to the lagoon!
We also got to taste the local cuisine, by the excellent cook of our Camp. I especially appreciated the way of cooking vegetables, which, thanks to the added spices, were very tasty. Fortunately, we have done an average of 5 hours of windsurfing every day day, otherwise we would have certainly got fatter...... In the evening, we often spent time watching the beautiful starry sky of Lassarga with binoculars.
One of the most pleasant moments of the day, for me (Andrea, as usual, remained in the water until exhaustion ....) it was the return to the bungalow, around at 17.30, after the day of windsurfing. Pleasantly warm shower, and relax in the bungalow's veranda, sunny and sheltered from the wind. Wonderful.
On Monday, we started exploring the surroundings. Hamid took us to the spot of Harbor beach, a 15 minute drive from our camp, located just south of the long jetty that, inside the lagoon, leads to the main fishing port of Dakhla. The wind has blown hard since the early morning, but the spot turned out to be very choppy, and not completely pleasant. So after a couple of hours of session, we returned to Lassarga.
Here, the waves from Tuesday were very small, but still exploitable to jump near the shore.
On Wednesday, the strong local rider, Ali Beqqali, accompanied us on a tour of the other ocean spots, and then took us, at lunchtime, at the Lagoon spot, right in front of the other Ocean Vagabond Camp in Dakhla.
I woke up with a depressing backache, but I do not know if Aulin (an anti-inflammatory medicine), or the drug of windsurfing, during the day made me progressively forget it completely ....
On our tour, with Ali we could visit the spot of Oum Lambouir, which means the goddess of the well (nearby, there is a well for water). The southernmost portion of the beach, the day of our visit, showed bump and jump conditions, with waves of about one meter.
Crossing a portion of the desert, where camels were grazing (and where we got stuck in the sand with the pick-up), we went to see the spot of Point D'or, which did not present conditions worthy of note (but it can be interesting). Finally, we reached the lagoon.
Without wasting too many words, I will soon tell you that the day at the lagoon was a blast. The day will also be memorable for my first two Duck jibe closed (one of which is taken in the video with GoPro - see below). The wind was strong all day (I always used 4.2 and 106).
The choice of Ali and Curro to take us at the spot, in order to start the session at about 12.00, was the right one. The spot is the kiters' realm, but in our two hours session, until about 14.00, we were practically alone in the water, free to concentrate on maneuvers, and try everything we wanted. After another good lunch .... at about 15.00, Ali allowed us to return to the water for another couple of hours.
In the afternoon the kiters (mostly French) reappeared, and even if the situation was never really dramatic, we were no longer free to ride around thorugh the lagoon without worring of other people. We had to pay a little attention, especially to the beginners, who sometimes made the kite fall close to you, with a little reassuring deflagration ....
Upon returning, Ali drove us inside Dakhla to take a look at the town. Dakhla has about 140,000 inhabitants, and alternates quite ugly and degraded areas (with concrete suqared buildings without balconies, and with uneven streets and sidewalks), to better-maintained neighborhoods, with nicer buildings and squares. It does not have a bazaar like other Moroccan cities, but a neighborhood full of shops and some street vendors stall, where food and local products are sold.
The last two days of vacation, I really wished to no longer use the 4.2 sail ...., and enjoyed the progressive decline of the wind. We have been riding in Lassarga both two days. Still 4.2, on Thursday morning, and then sails size likely increased to 5.6. My body had already given what it could give, and the various pains and blisters, prevented me from being effective in the water and enjoying the session.
I also want to report here of the quick lesson that Ali gave us at the beach on Thursday, when he showed us how you can hold upright a rigged sail, pushing it gently and sensibly in the wind, only from the clew terminal .... Useful exercise to approach freestyle, but also to acquire sensitivity in the management of the boom. Ali also explained to us how the professional riders actually keep the harness line a little more forward than the sail center would require, to control the sail power only with the rear hand, and give more or less gas. But not only these are the tips that Ali has occasionally dispensed us, always with great sympathy and cordiality.....
Ah, I forgot to say that, luckily, on Thursday at dusk, Ramadan was over, and the boys and even the Camp staff have returned to normal life. Thursday evening, celebrations, hugs, and group photos, to celebrate the end of a ritual that has the taste of real divine punishment. But everyone has its more or less reasonable rituals .....
The next day, the boys of the center had breakfast, lunch and dinner with us, and in the afternoon they organized a penalty kick competion. It was nice to see them come back to normal life, and we all thank them for the availability that, despite Ramadan, always showed us.
The next morning, we woke up at 4.30, and took off at 7.00 to flight back to Milan, that welcomed us with 30 Celsius degrees. We were tired, but satisfied!
Hang loose. Fabio
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Below, the videos taken during our staying and our sessions