Mission: Pagudpud, The Philippines

Before we get down and dirty with our latest adventure tale, I would like to apologise for the mammoth delay since our last update. I won’t bore you with the details, suffice to say that Facebook has been keeping us busy as our main marketing tool, but our latest trip to the undiscovered territory of Pagudpud, The Philippines was so good that we felt it deserved its own blog re-entry! Kiteworld Magazine/Oceansource team rider Brad Symington tells us why…

“When the go ahead came that I was getting on a bird to The Philippines I must say it filled me with excitement of adventure as well as a little niggle of concern as this was my first trip to Asia. Being a rookie at seeing the far side of the planet it was with an open mind that I boarded the flight and got ready to relax for quite a few hours. The time zone I was landing in has 22.5% of the world’s population making it the most populous time zone on the planet. Getting out of the airport into the shuttle for the short trip to terminal 3 you would think that they are all based in Manila.  ‘The Pearl of the Orient’ is the most densely populated city in the world as the almost 2 million inhabitants do so in an area less than 40 sq km.

Welcome to Manila!

The most amazing driving I have ever seen, but noticeably on my entire stay in The Philippines I saw very few cars with signs of bumper bashing. Arriving in the most Northern province of Ilocos Norte takes you far away from all this and also away from the usual beaten track down south. This is evident right from leaving the terminal and getting the shuttle, tuk-tuk or taxi from Laoag to Pagudpud. The place is clean and the jungle surrounds start  taking over when coming into Pagadpud itself. The rice paddys that have been seen on the way now really become prominent but the mountains with ever present clouds now add even more texture to the landscape.

Pagudpud rice paddies

When disembarking from the plane the air was noticeably humid but moving, with palm trees continuously bending backwards all the way to the resort to welcome you. A super warm place with super good wind is something I live for and as Mon the resort owner assured me with a confident smile the wind is good and strong. The last section is a dirt road that is continuously wet but in good condition giving me a feeling that this was not going to be a place where McDonalds would be freely available, and thank god I was right. The buildings of traditional style huts as accommodation look welcoming and even two larger units with ensuits for this remote area are very impressive.

Kingfisher Resort

Kingfisher Resort

Right through the middle of the bungalows you walk out onto the coral sand beach where the lagoon stretches out 100m and is met by a beautiful curling wave that broke from 1.5 – 6m during the majority of my stay – I had ARRIVED! The wind was blowing North East which meant side on from the right at 18-25 knots. Guests were sitting on the verandas of their bungalows very mellowly chatting and looking out over the water.

Kingfisher Beach

Kingfisher Beach

To my surprise there was hardly anyone one out! The boys were having a break and waiting for the tide to come in a bit. This was a good chance to catch up with them and find out what they thought of their stay as they were leaving the next day. Coming from Thailand, New Zealand, Russia, Germany and Poland they all had come for the same reason – the wave, wind, warm water and remoteness of the place.

The posse!

The posse!

The place had delivered for them so far and they were very impressed. Twenty minutes later had us all out on the water and still it did not get crowded. With the entire resort riding there were only 7 of us out and still plenty room to ride. Fabrice Beaux, the centre manager and pro rider for Neil Pryde and RRD, has actually been coming here 5 years earlier and returning every year since and has decided that this place is so good that he has now based himself here for the season which runs mainly from November to April. He has a wealth of knowledge and is exceptionally good at the inevitable rescue that happens periodically with the various levels of rider that Kingfisher can accommodate.

After two days of riding Kingfisher an excursion was on the cards and this was done by Fabrice himself who has discovered and ridden all these spots. With the resort shuttle packed with gear we headed west along the coast and once over the mountains the main agricultural back bone became evident with the expansive rice fields being tended by the locals. 5 Bags of rice gives them one of their own and the Filipino worker is a proud and hard working one.

Endless rice paddys

Endless rice fields

Along the route Fabrice and our driver Tin Tin became a wealth of knowledge about the area and culture unique to the province. Part of the reason that the roads are in good order and the place is litter free with good amenities such as the Hospital and clinic is that the former dictator Ferdinand Marcos was from the area.

Today however we were reaping the rewards that came and the first step was Bangui above the windfarm. The spot could easily be driven past without a second glance and even if you did get out and try there would be nothing special about it. Fabrice showed me upwind how the wave runs at a gentle slope and breaks into the sandy bottom. Because of this the water is a light brown along the shore but nevertheless the wave is good quality and easy to connect three or four together for a ride of over 1 km long. The background has the other side of the large bay with palm-lined beaches and to the left there is the 20 strong windfarm making it great for photos.

Bangui, Ilocos Norte

Brad riding into Bangui

...and another.

...and some!

Session two was at the lighthouse following a brief lunch stop at the local bakery in Bangui village and the sight that greated me was one that is simply riders heaven. I say rider as kiter, windsurfer and surfer alike would be loving the fact that they had rocked up to the beach with all the toys in the back. This is a right-hand point break that peels in sections and then reforms continuously in the little bay.

The water is crystal clear and royal blue against the white of the slowly turning wave. It looked like volcanic rock that had formed this little inlet and rust had set in with pitted rock headland jutting out to allow the wave to wrap around it. A deep channel on the left and cleaner wind made the launch relatively ok or the tiger line straight of the beach between the ‘Banka’ outrigger fishing boats with the gusty winds another option. Fabrice joined me on this session and kiter and windsurfer had some fun tearing it up in the waves.

Secret spot!

Secret spot!

It must be said that the wind was strong as I was on my 7 and well gusty would be an understatement. Definitly a spot for very experienced rider this one and an eye opener after the easy beach break that we had just come from. Stop three for the day was by far the most surreal location I have ever kited in. This was back up to the wind farm but this time right underneath the turbines.

Bangui wind farm

Bangui Wind Farm

These graceful giants have a base wider than the mini bus that we were traveling in and the blades travel at 60 kph making a tangle with them while kiting something to avoid. But fortunately the fresh water riding lagoon situated right next to the sea put ou safely away from that. The huge sand dune in front keeping you safe and allowing for an easy walk back if the wind did decide to slow down, which my entire stay it only got marginally less than 20knots. Shooting here is a dream as the sun sets in front of you as you ride and the little dune makes the perfect spot for lining up the camera.

A late drive back to Kingfisher with some cold Red Horses (local lager) along the way as the sun dipped and the greens became darker and the day was quite simply exhausted. I say the day, as everything that could be done from beach break to flat freshwater freestyle and even reef break, had been done and this all within two hours from the awesome right hander of Kingfisher. Evening dinner of grilled pork, Papaya and vinegar with Filipino spices and local rice during a de-brief of the day and a few more Red Horses  and sleep has never come so easily!

Tea time...

Tea time...

The last day produced some classic conditions that have made this a place that Fabrice and Mon had kept secret for over 5 years. One to two metre waves with a perfectly steady side shore 20knots and a good 0.7m tide. All of 7 kites out again and totally chilled in the line up. Switchblade 8m kindly pumped (as every session was my whole trip) by Emmanual, one of the beach guides, and I was on it for flatwater freestyling  mixed in with some classic wave riding for almost 4 hours. The seaweed bottom and odd bit is dead coral reef posing no issues with anyone while I was there and the friendliness of the people coupled with the beauty of the surroundings, making me reluctant to come in and put the kite down for the last time.”

Session with Fabrice

Session with Fabrice

Goodbye Pagudpud, see you soon...

Goodbye Pagudpud, see you soon...

For more information on Pagudpud or to join us on our next camp, please visit: http://oceansource.net/kitesurfing/kitesurfing_in_pagudpud.asp

More images on our Facebook Page.

Special thanks to Mon, Fabrice, Pepe, Nenette, Cabrinha Kites and everyone at Kingfisher Resort for looking after us – we WILL be back!!

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Palekastro, Crete

Believe me when I say that I didn’t think places like this still existed. Landscape shaped over thousands of years rich with history dating back to Minoan times and local hospitality that seems undeterred by what’s going on elsewhere in the world.

A 3-hour drive will take you through some of Iraklion’s outskirts before sending you into arguably one of the most spectacular journeys I’ve ever experienced. As the road winds up into the mountains you notice the landscape turning greener and more rugged. Towns become villages some perched precariously on hill tops offering sublime photo opportunities and worthy places for a quick pit-stop. As the road snakes through the vast mountain range you begin to wonder what lays at the end that makes this drive so worthy to windsurfers, ramblers and eco-tourists year-in-year-out.

Palekastro

Road to Palekastro

As you drop out of the mountains you are once again greeted by the infamous Azure colours of the Mediterranean and it is here that you literally start smelling your holiday. A short drive further and countryside suddenly becomes vastly populated with olive trees, as far as the eye can see. This is the Itanos region covering 197 square kilometres with 2,500 inhabitants and diverse selection of endemic plants, wild gorges biodiverse in nature, archeological treasures and vast sandy beaches among the loveliest in Greece.

Itanos Region

Itanos Region

BUT, what we’re really looking for is the wind and that it has in abundance. The Meltemi winds blow through this region during the summer months with impressive reliability. Palekastro village and its local beach Koeremenos boasts some of the most reliable winds in the Mediterranean with winds blowing daily between F5-7.

Koeremenos Beach

Koeremenos Beach

At the heart of this operation lies Freak Windsurf Station run by Austrian windsurf fanatic Hannes Unterweger. Now in its 8th year of operation and firmly on the EFPT tour, the centre houses approximately 80 boards and 150 sails from JP and NP. The equipment is replenished each year ensuring you’re on the latest kit. This is the only centre in the area so even during peak summer months, it rarely feels crowded on the water. With winds blowing cross-shore from left to right its straight out to see into bump and jump conditions with flatter water on the inside ideal for freestyle and perfecting carve gybes. But what’s particularly attractive about this setup is the lack of development. Most of the land is occupied by olive groves and indigenous trees ensuring adequate provision of shade for non-partaking partners and children alike. There is a local taverna within 5 minutes walk that serves up the usual Greek delights including catch of the day. For regular web users, this taverna also offers complimentary WIFI.

Freak Windsurf Station

Freak Windsurf Station

And as you head back to your villa or apartment at the end of another relaxing day you may opt to pop into Palekastro village for a cold drink and early dinner. This delightful village has a large church as its centre piece and a square surrounded by quaint tavernas. Here you dine not with thousands of tourists but a blend of intrepid travellers and locals, some of the nicest you will ever meet.

Palekastro Village

Palekastro Village

But your holiday shouldn’t stop here.  A short drive north and you will encounter a rare palm forest somewhat freakish in nature. This forest meanders down a small valley onto a beach very much giving it a tropical feel and the chosen location for a recent Bounty advert. Nearby you will find the imposing Toplou Monastery, one of the largest and most important monasteries in Crete dating back to the 15th century.

Toplou Monastery

Toplou Monastery

Head south of Palekastro towards Zakros and you once again find yourself driving through the foothills of another spectacular mountain range with more quaint villages such as Lagada, Chochlakies and Azokeramos gracing its path. At the end of this lovely route you are awarded with Kato Zakros, one of the most enchanting spots in Crete. The peaceful landscape, the vast blue sea, the “Gorge of the Dead” running down to the seaside palace of King Minos, flood the mind and senses, taking you back to a past where everything is beautiful, untouched, unique. This is Palekastro, Crete.

Kato Zakros

Kato Zakros

To enquire further about a holiday to Palekastro, please contact bookings@oceansource.net or call +44 (0)1243 374615

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Naxos in 100 hours

Let me me tell you about a place called Naxos. Set amongst the Cyclades and only 25 minutes flying from Athens, this is the largest island and the centre of archaic Cycladic culture. So how come you may not have heard of this place? We travelled there for four days to discover what you’ve been missing.

The first thing worth noting is that Naxos cannot be reached direct by charter flight. This has without doubt preserved the island from mass tourism and as a consequence, appears to attract the more intrepid traveller, the adventurer.

To get to Naxos, you either take a ferry from Athens, Mykonos or Santorini although the fastest way without doubt, is to hop onto the domestic Olympic service from Athens international airport which should take no more than 30 minutes.

All aboard the ferry!

All aboard the ferry!

So what’s so special about the place? Well, at first sight it may just seem like another ordinary Greek island with white houses and blue-topped churches dotted across its landscape. It has a historic town centre with narrow streets leading up to its main attraction that being a Venetian castle.

Naxos town

Naxos town

However, if you’re someone who regularly indulges in watersports, there is something quite special that awaits you…the Flisvos Sportclub and Hotel. This club dominates the watersports scene across Naxos and is run by keen German/Dutch couple Jan and Mieke. Jan is no newcomer to Naxos either, he’s been coming here since his twenties when he fell in love with the island and soon realised its action sports potential.

Jan has since built up an extensive operation consisting of two hotels and three centres catering for windsurfers and kitesurfers alike. The main hotel/centre is conveniently located within 10 minutes beach walk from Naxos town centre making it the ideal base for popping into town for some sightseeing, retail therapy and vibrant nightlife.

Naxo 1 hotel

Naxo 1 hotel

At the heart of this operation sits the Flisvos beach cafe, a spectacular bar/restaurant from which you can enjoy the most amazing sunsets. The Flisvos team are quick to ensure you feel at home whilst presenting you with an impressive array of bar snacks and cocktails.

Flisvos beach cafe

Flisvos beach cafe

Every Sunday, weather permitting, the bar is moved onto the beach itself where barman Sven and his assistants put on an impressive display of bottle juggling that would give Tom Cruise (in the classic 80’s movie Cocktail) a run for his money!

Beach party!

Beach party!

As for the windsurfing, I sense you are eager to know, you really couldn’t ask for a more complete setup. Two centres at the main resort cater for all levels of windsurfing right from beginner flat water conditions to the more advanced wave head. The wave and flat water spots are separated by a shallow reef through which you can sail so you can enjoy all conditions within a single session, this is unique.

Windsurfing Naxos style

Windsurfing Naxos style

Other than windsurfing, there is also catamaran and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) to be enjoyed so you’re truly covered for all conditions. During the low-season period you can book sport packs which include everything so you can easily switch between sports without any hassle.

SUP safari

SUP safari

As for alternative activities, there are ‘Beach Cruiser’ bikes at your disposal which are great for local trips whilst the more experienced cyclist has access to pro bikes and an extensive menu of daily cycle trips to choose from, guided by resident MTB fanatic Anton.

Pro bikes at Flisvos

Pro bikes at Flisvos

Mountain biking in Naxos

Spectacular mount-biking in Naxos

If you’re looking for a change of scenery, then head further south to the stunning beaches of Agios Prokopios and Mikri Vigla. It is here that Flisvos has its second operation catering for both kitesurfers and windsurfers all based at Hotel Orkos. You will find wider and less crowded beaches and crystal clear water making it ideal to indulge in a spot of kitesurfing. Once again, their team seem all too eager to ensure you have a great and safe time whether you are there to windsurf or kitesurf.

Mikri Vigla

Mikri Vigla

Beyond Mikri Vigla there are more beaches to discover and the further south you travel the less crowded they become. As you work your way around the souther tip of the island before heading back north, you will notice the coastline becoming more rugged giving you a real sense of adventure.

PIcturesque Greek village

PIcturesque Greek village

The highest peak in Naxos reaches in excess of 1,000m beyond which you will find lush vegetation and valleys clearly demonstrating the diversity of this unique landscape. Anton runs extensive MTB trips, some lasting up to a day so if you’re fit and up for it, let the adventure begin!

So there you have it, Naxos uncovered in 100 hours. If you’re looking to head for somewhere slightly off the beaten track with superb action sports on offer, then Naxos should be a good bet for you this year.

If you have any further questions or to make a booking enquiry, call:
+44 (0)1243 374615 or visit www.oceansource.net for more information.

More photos of our recent trip can be viewed on our official Facebook Page.

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El Tur 2011

When Oceansource took over in El Tur in 2007, it seemed an almost impossible task to turn a dilapidated windsurf centre into something that was fresh, exciting, contained the latest equipment and was managed by people with an undying passion for the sport. Well, sitting here in front of my laptop looking back at the last three years through rose tinted spectacles, I’d like to think we achieved just that.

Official opening 2007

Centre opening 2007

For sure, El Tur isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but what it has to offer in terms of windsurfing is second to none. I remember spending just 36 hours in Egypt checking the place out and within 30 minutes of arriving in El Tur, I was blown away by the place. The combination of perfect flat water, bump & jump, a point break, rolling swell and even a cross-onshore wave beach…its no wonder that so many clinics and camps have been held here over the years. This really is the ‘Ultimate Windsurfing Playground’.

Not just that, but the experience and feeling you get in El Tur is like no other place in Egypt. Firstly, tourism is virtually non-existent so you can relax and hang out with the locals in their shisha bars without every getting pestered by salesmen. Granted, you may get the odd kid telling you to “f*ck off” but that’s just their way of saying “welcome to my home”, is it not?

El Tur fruit stall

El Tur fruit stall

Anyway, 3 years later and things have moved on somewhat for Oceansource.net. We’re now a fully established Tour Operator with a developing portfolio of fabulous destinations dotted around the world so to run a centre alongside our new business venture no longer made sense.

Enter Ibi & Friends International, a well established organisation within Egypt that run an impressive chain of centres in Dahab, Zaafarana, Hurghada and El Nabaa with a friendly and professional atmosphere. Their passion and enthusiasm seems to rival ours which is why we could not ask for a more suitable bunch of guys to fill our boots and keep the momentum going in El Tur.

Centre re-opening with Ibi & Friends

Centre re-opening with Ibi & Friends

But rather than a simple sign switch at the office door, Ibi & Friends have made a sizable investment in equipment and infrastructure too that will hopefully keep you coming back for more. We’ll see brand new 2011 equipment from Hot Sails and F2 mixed with Fanatic and the latest North at your disposal. Meanwhile, the centre is receiving a face-lift to include new chill-out areas and even a ‘pool bar’, all scheduled for 2011 which makes it their largest operation in Egypt.

New centre, new kit

New centre, new kit

Even the hotel has started a renovation project that’s seen upgraded rooms so when you’re booking your next holiday with us, please ensure you check availability for those.

Upgraded rooms

Upgraded rooms

To celebrate the launch of our partnership, we are offering week-long land packages to El Tur for as little as £250/€286 (conditions apply) including 7-nights half-board, equipment rental and return airport transfers. And if you’re flying from the UK, you can still get flights for as little as £275 giving you an all-inclusive week-long holiday for just  £525/€598 – now that’s what you call a bargain!

Furthermore, El Tur has just seen the introduction of a new cable-tow system ideal for a spot of wake-boarding during no-wind days and makes a good training ground for those wanting to get into kitesurfing.

Wakeboarding!

Wakeboarding!

For those seeking a spot of luxury in El Tur, don’t forget the recently opened Habibi Beach hotel which is looking better than ever and will play host to Ant Baker’s first clinic to El Tur in June. If you want to get into wave-sailing, get your equipment tuned and work on your fitness, then this week is not to be missed!

WIndhaven Hotel, Habibi Beach

WIndhaven Hotel, Habibi Beach

So there you have it, a new year for El Tur to take you and your windsurfing ambitions to the next level. We hope to see you soon!

For more info or to book your holiday, please visit: www.oceansource.net

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Egypt Revisited

Not that long ago, we were exposed to endless images and video clips of sword-wielding Egyptian revolutionaries with one, and only one aim in mind – to topple the oppressive and corrupt regime of their once loved president, Mr Muhammed Hosni Mubarak.

The ramifications of this were severe as Egypt plunged into darkness whilst tourism as far south as Sharm El Sheikh, which had seen years of exponential growth, disappeared without trace. What was particularly worrying is the fact that few or no incidents were reported in any of the resorts located within the Sinai peninsula, so what was all the fuss about? It was time to head south…

The sun sets over Egypt

The sun sets over Egypt

It so happened that I had the pleasure of the company of some exciting UK freestylers including the likes of Adam Sims and Max Rowe. Max, who had only just recovered from an epic journey to Vietnam for the PWA event would join us a day later so the boys had some time to kill as we headed for our first stop, El Tur.

Having travelled to Egypt on a number of occasions, I have to say that I was somewhat stunned by the emptiness of Sharm El Sheikh airport upon our arrival. This once bustling airport had an eerie air of tranquility about it whilst baggage handlers and security personnel appeared unusually relaxed. So much so that they seemed most patient when receiving a drilling by Adam Sims regarding the state of his quiver bag that had obviously been dragged around runways behind a baggage trolley whilst doubling up as a surf-board for bored airport personnel! It set the tone of things to come but more about that shortly.

Sharm El Sheikh airport not as we know it

Sharm El Sheikh airport not as we know it

The drive up to El Tur was relatively eventless whilst the roads were notably quiet. Although Egypt’s political unrest has now paled into insignificance with recent events in Libya and now Japan, you could still smell the stale air of a tourist factory that had simply ground to a halt pretty much overnight.

Suffice to say that in El Tur, the most obvious visible difference was the presence of the army which as we all now know, is holding temporary charge whilst the Egyptian government is working hard on its constitutional reforms. The army in Egypt is a highly respected institution so a few soldiers here or there seems to me, at least, to instill an atmosphere of security and stability.

Vive la Revolution!!

Vive la Revolution!!

As we rolled into Moses Bay Hotel we were greeted by the usual friendly staff who seemed relieved by our presence as I guess we must’ve offered them instant hope, being one of their first guests following a prolonged drought in tourism. I think for any hotel to have survived the last 3 months shows an act of defiance for which they should be proud, very proud. These people survive on next to nothing and to maintain a smile to that extent, should be a subtle reminder that during times of hardship, even a relatively insignificant ray of sunshine can be enough to spark hope and expectation.

Following a swift check-in procedure, there was no time to waste as we headed for the only drinking establishment in El Tur, that being the recently expanded Ibi & Friends centre (see next blog entry) with local host Max & Co. Many a (rather odd) tin cups of vodka and shishas later and with a forecast for light winds, fighting talk soon spawned within the camp about how best to tackle the newly installed cable tow the following day. Good night ‘John Boy’…

Day two arrived sooner than you could say ‘mesh’ (meaning ok in Arabic) and as we all set about finding ways of passing the day in our own unique ways, news soon emanated from the cable tow area that young Adam Sims had attempted to make love to his wake-board only seconds into his first ever wake-boarding experience. I’m going to be fair on Adam and spare you the details of what actually happened as I know he will be doing his own column and wouldn’t want to stand accused of raining on his parade (it truly was a ‘special’ moment!).

Wakeboarding comes to El Tur

Wakeboarding comes to El Tur

With PWA freestyler Max Rowe now onboard, it was time to head north to our second stop, that being Moon Beach, Ras Sudr. Again, nothing out of the ordinary to report en-route other than quiet roads and a slightly more prominent army presence at the usual check-points. Unfortunately, Max’s late flight meant a more subdued entry to the resort as we relaxed within the newly configured beach bar whilst being looked after by the very generous Moon Beach team.

UK pro freestylers Max Rowe, Adam Sims and friends

UK pro freestylers Max Rowe, Adam Sims and friends

By day, Moon Beach seemed surprisingly populated as weekenders arrived from Cairo seeking a much needed relief from their recent Cairo exploits. Suffice to say, Egypt seems very ‘normal’ given the circumstances therefore begging the question, where and why had everyone left? Now more than ever, this country needs us and with the spring season now in full swing and flight prices slashed, this is the time to grab yourself a bargain and enjoy what in recent years has become one of the most desirable windsurfing and kitesurf holiday destinations in the world.

A point that I’m convinced will be endorsed by my younger comrades (currently still in Egypt) is that there should be little or no cause for concern when considering traveling to Egypt right now. For sure, it will take time to recover from this down-turn in tourism and for those feeling the need to go on holiday following a long and harsh winter, now is the time to head for Egypt as there is no place in the world that will offer you better conditions.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us should you have any queries regarding the current situation in Egypt. For details on pricing or to place a booking, please visit www.oceansource.net/egypt

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New Frontiers – Cape Town

Not that long ago, someone dismissed the idea of running a wave camp in Cape Town on the basis that it would be logistically impossible. Now in my world, nothing is impossible so we rose to the challenge and set to work to create the first ever full format 7-day wave camp. Our first challenge was to establish a base and it so happens that I recently had the privilege of meeting SA kite legend Brad ‘Caveman’ Symington and his family who run The Kitesnest – an impressive 6-bedroom pad based right by the beach within the attractive suburbs of Sunset Beach.

The Kites Nest

The Kites Nest, Sunset Beach

Base established, all we needed was a coach. Enter PWA pro John Skye who we’ve been running camps with in Moulay, Morocco for the last couple of years. John happens to be in Cape Town every winter for his training, testing and photo-shoots so naturally seemed the obvious choice for this camp. John normally runs his camps alongside PWA pro and now fiance Nayra Alonso but as Nayra was unable to attend, I decided to invest in a large wig and take her place as driver, cameraman and tea boy.

Now, we all know that windsurfing experiences are very much governed by the forces above and with 15 windy days in the run up to this clinic, surely we were in for a treat. Sadly, the Cape Doctor had other ideas and decided to take an early break leaving us with a truly abysmal forecast…gutted. However, having received a text message from big John the night before our departure saying something along the lines of “12-knot forecast and we still ended up with 4.2 weather” managed to revive some strength and spirit within the camp.

Oceansource Happy Bus

Oceansource Love Bus

Twelve hours and at least 5 packets of pretzels later we were on our way to Sunset Beach for the start of our big adventure. Only one person in the group had been here before so the atmosphere within the camp was very much a cocktail of curiosity and apprehension. Although pro windsurfers have been coming here for years, I guess one could argue that Cape Town hasn’t been fully established as a recreational windsurfing destination. After all, you need to have a proper understanding of how the wind works and where to find the best conditions of the day. Also, the conditions can get quite extreme so you need to be a fairly confident sailor with a good level of awareness. I think that for these exact reasons, it seemed logical to develop an adventure experience of this nature.

Morning Briefing

Morning Briefing

During the first couple of days we had relatively light 5.3-5.7 winds on starboard tack. John took us to the best beaches of the day whilst mixing it up with a general tour of Cape Town’s top windsurfing spots. With the majority of the group being more comfortable on starboard tack, the unusual conditions turned out to be a blessing as it provided us with the perfect opportunity to drag us out of hibernation and rediscover our fitness.

On the road!

On the road!

By the end of day 2 we had seen all the major windsurfing areas (as well as befriending the local Baboon population, more about that another time) and sailed Witsand and Platboom which are both located on the Cape in spectacular surroundings. Each day was topped off with a sumptuous meal either courtesy of The Kitesnest’s in-house braai or the local sushi or pizza parlor. One thing you will note about South Africa is that evening entertainment is fairly inexpensive which proves useful when trying to off-set your flight costs!

Warm-up session at Platboom

Warm-up session at Platboom

Apres-windsurf at the Red Herring

Apres-windsurf at the Red Herring

As the week progressed, the forecast suddenly turned in our favour and a couple of full-on windsurfing days beckoned. One of these days started right outside our door at Sunset Beach beach on 4.7 and as the wind picked up to 3.7 strength, it was time to pack our bags and head off to the more sheltered Melkbos. Here we were treated to a stunning sunset session and an impromptu forward looping crash course, unforgettable!

Sunset session at Melkbos

Sunset session at Melkbos

Video debrief

Video debrief

With spirits now riding high, the scene was set for a show-down at Platboom on the final day. All readings indicated a near perfect side-shore 30-knot beauty to leave us with the ultimate souvenir. Well, we weren’t disappointed as what we were presented with, was a breathtaking arena of ivory white sand, vibrant turquoise water and waves begging for a ride. Following the usual briefing from John, each group member took to the stage like a gladiator as they prepared to throw all what was left within them at the might of the oncoming tides. Two hours of glorious windsurfing passed before the intermission and thus freeing up John to ‘unleash the beast’ and demonstrate the true grit of a pro windsurfer.

Final show-down at Platboom

Final show-down at Platboom

John tearing it up at Platboom

John tearing it up at Platboom

This was the final day of the camp and by now we all had a fairly comprehensive flavour of what the attraction of Cape Town has been to so many windsurfers over the years. Suffice to say that personally, I’ve been fairly reluctant to travel to these shores, I guess partially due to my Dutch roots, but with Apartheid now becoming a fading memory and South Africa very much on the road to reform and equality, I felt it was my moral obligation to not only appreciate South Africa for its windsurfing prowess, but also for its natural beauty portrayed through its unique geography and people.

Greetings from the Cape!

Greetings from the Cape!

We’ll be back in 2012!
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Egypt Update

Just to inform you that we’re monitoring the situation in Egypt very closely. So far, the unrest has been mostly centred around the cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez.

The UK Foreign Office has advised that its still safe to travel to Sharm and the latest reports from El Tur, Dahab and Sharm indicate that life is very much running as normal. As soon as it is deemed unsafe to travel to Egypt, we will be informing those who have already booked with alternative programmes.

Its worth noting that the South Sinai region is very well protected by security and regular check-points are in place to deal with any suspect behaviour. The area has been mostly developed around tourism and the Egyptians who live there very much depend on this ongoing trade which is why the region is predicted to remain largely unaffected.

If you have any questions regarding your holiday to Egypt then please don’t hesitate to contact ed@oceansource.net or call +44 (0)1243 374615

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