There are famous spots, which often do not deserve the reputation they enjoy, and others, often unknown to most people, which can be much more valid.
What we often imagine as an ideal spot is the one that gives a great windy day, and maybe an exceptional wave session, but it is more enjoyable a spot that guarantees predictability and stability of the wind conditions, with high percentages of good days.With this in mind, I would like to speak about Reggio Calabria, or, rather, about the Calabrian coast on the Strait of Messina.
Windsurf spot reviews: Reggio Calabria (Italy)
To say that Reggio Calabria is an unknown windsurfing spot, perhaps it is not quite true; here, particularly in the long beach, several Italian championships took place, and, above all, a PWA slalom event was organized in 2012, as well as the world masters and juniores slalom championship slalom, just last year.
But we can say that among windsurfing lovers that do not take part to regattas, probably, it does not enjoy the reputation it deserves; at least, judjing on the number of windsurfers riders, I see every year, when I go there.
The main features of this area are:
• Mild temperatures all year round; hardly the minimum falls below 10 Celsius degrees and the maximum, reached during hours around midday, that is, those during which you go into the water, almost never goes below 15.
• Probability of wind greater than 60/70%, but, above all, not concentrated in one period, but possible all year.
• Good wind predictability even a week before.
In short, you can surf all year round, knowing, with reasonable advance and security, when and how much wind there will be.
The beauty of the place is noteworthy: you can surf in the Strait of Messina, with a view of Sicily and Etna. Hard to find places so beautiful, frankly, although I am biased, since I was born there.
If you want to be sure of good wind conditions, you have to check weather forecasts and verify if there will be high pressure conditions, more or less distributed throughout all Italy, which ensures a thermal wind from the north, accelerated by the venturi effect in strait; infact, it is this venturi effect, which makes this spot so special and effective, from a windsurfing point of view.
The passage of the low pressures is useful too, but gives less guarantees of stable wind. To get an idea about the frequency and intensity of the wind, you can check the weather page of the website "new kite zone, Pellaro" and the webcam of the website "stretto web."
The first shows the wind speed at Pellaro beach, which I will talk about in a minute; on the water, you have about 4/5 knots more, than the graph shows. The second lets you see exactly the conditions on the beach in the center of RC.
For a check of general weather forecasts, yo can visit the usual sites (see the proper section of waterwind).
How to get there.
You take about 12 hours drive from Milan, and almost 7 from Rome.
By plane, from Malpensa or Linate (Milano Aerports), you can fly to Lamezia (but also to Reggio Calabria), in little more than one hour, with your equipment on board. To Lamezia Airport, Ryanair flies from some European towns (e.g. London), as well as to Reggio Calabria airport Alitalia, Air France, etc fly from some others (e.g. Paris; Berlin).
When you arrive to Calabria, to go out and have ride, you have some spots as choice.
Infact, from Catona/Gallico, 5.6 km north of Reggio Calabria, up to Pellaro, at South of Reggio, there are lots of beaches available, that allow, under the conditions, to find the ideal place for the equipment that you brought. That's the other added value.
I suggest 3 beaches, as best ones (see map at end of article):
1) Gallico beach (in correspondence to new promenade), north of Reggio, about 1 km from the port. Particularly good with the sirocco (SE wind), which is not the thermal breeze, or when in other spots the North wind is too strong. I go mainly here, in a beach called by us local riders, Capanno Beach.
2) Promenade of Reggio Calabria. It has the great advantage of being in the city center; so with your family/your mate, you are 5 minutes from everything, including the shopping area. Here are also a sailing club and a couple of surfing clubs.
3) Pellaro beach. Here we have a huge beach, and indeed a couple, maybe three, WS and Kite centers. The particularity of Pellaro is that you have a breeze 4/5 kts stronger than in Reggio and, above all, when in Reggio wind does not enter, in Pellaro, instead, you can have perfect conditions.
Oh, I forgot: parking troubles or crowding never occur, unless, of course, in the center of Reggio, in midsummer.
If anything, there is the opposite problem: in winter it is likely to go out for a session alone, but the shape of the coastline and the wind direction let us be quiet; a cell phone with you, anyway, could be useful.
Let's see the conditions.
We are in the strait, so the wind, no matter how strong, does not create a proportional long wave conditions; surely, not the thermal breeze from the north. With this type of wind you can have, depending on the spot and the season, from 10/12 to 25 knots, hardly more. Choppy conditions as, in general, in some lakes. The further away you go from the narrowest point of the channel (ie the more you go to the south), and the higher the waves get.
At Pellaro, you can have waves 1/1.5 m high from top to the trough.
These are the prevailing conditions; percentage 60/70% day per year.
When the thermal breeze rises, it guarantees a session of two/three hours, at least. The conditions are amazing: quite constant wind; almost always warm.
With low pressures (see photos), but also with strong thermal breeze, a west/north-west or south-east/south-west can rise; these conditions are quite rare, and can provide stronger wind (even 30 knots) and waves.
With the south wind/south-west you can have 2 mt long waves at Capanno Beach. These are challenging conditions..... not to be underestimated!
As for the equipment, considering what I wrote above, and that 70% of the sessions is done with a thermal breeze of 15/16 knots, who does slalom, if it has to decide for one board and sail, could take with him a 8.6 (if he is not a light weight...) and a wide board from 75 to 80 cm; you always have 12 - 15 knots at least, maybe, you have to move to Pellaro. In winter I do almost all my sessions with 7.9 sail, and with a 71 cm wide board (the average one for me). On winter time, you often have 17 to 25 knots. Sometimes, I have the opposite problem of having a too big gear and I've to stay on the ground for too much wind. For freestylers, it's difficult to me to give advice, but they tell me that the range goes from 4.7 to 5.4, generally.
If you plan to rent, frankly I do not know if and what you can find (they tell me that it is possible in Pellaro, and also in one of the centers on the beache of Reggio); I recommend to take your gear and I always prefer to do so (my equipment is always mine ...).
If you need, I think there are not storage problems in each of the surf centers.
As for lodging, you have homes to rent, B&B, residences, hotels; so it's not a problem; I prefer not to give names, but there is a great residence at Capanno Beach, and a great hotel in Pellaro, for example.
In summary, these are great places to spend summer holidays, or, at least a few days, before moving to Sicily, which is equally, if not more beautiful.
Even wives, girlfriends, children and friends will have something to enjoy.
But it is, above all, a great alternative to have a break to cold winter time, compared to most popular destinations, and why not, to see a place in Italy, which often is not considered as it deserves.
In this case, I recommend the period of late October early November; if there is sunny weather, it is almost still summer; in my last two trips, I have been assured 100% of days in the water, with long leg wetsuit, short sleeve.
P.S.: in the pictures, you'll see wild and deserted beaches; consider that it was full winter .......
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