Apologies for the slow feed but we’ve been busy preparing for the forthcoming National Windsurf Festival here in the UK. The good news is that we’ve managed to talk PWA superstar Boujmaa Guilloul into sampling the UK shores for the very first time so if you’re reading this ahead of September 4/5 and you’re in the area, get your booty down to the show and meet the great man in person!
This naturally leads us into the second part of ‘New Frontiers’ which is a bit of dialogue I wanted to share with you that explains how Oceansource went from a centre only setup to tour operator status.
As we settled into the Moulay vibe soon after our arrival in Moulay for the very first time, it soon became clear that this was no ordinary spot. What attracted us originally to El Tur, that being the undeveloped, somewhat ‘raw’ nature of the location, seemed very much mirrored right here in Moulay, albeit with an alternative Moroccan complexion.
The fact that there was very little evidence of tourism, even today, within a largely untouched, quintessentially traditional habitat that somehow seems to coexist in harmony with the presence of a small windsurfing community is not something you come across every day.
Without wanting to sound like a high-street wrapper, the word ‘respect’ certainly is operative when it comes to describing the relationship between Moulay Bouzerktoun locals and the invading windsurfers. I couldn’t speak for every local and perhaps there is some evidence that this isn’t always the case, such as the unwillingness to partake in a photograph or the mounting garbage near the cliff tops – although this is more likely to be caused by corrupt bureaucracy within local councils rather than deliberate opposing action.
Whichever way you look at it, the one thing that couldn’t possibly be ignored, are the superb wind and waves that grace its shores and which are utilised to the max. by windsurfers, kitesurfers, surfers and more recently SUP’ers alike. This is soul-sailing at its best and where escapism from modern society is enforced through restrictions imposed by inadequate infrastructure. Until recently, the only way to ‘get online’ was to head for an internet cafe in nearby Essaouira. Now, the presence of wireless 3G makes it possible for surfers to connect where needs prevail but is sufficiently limited to help us focus on the job in hand – to relax and make love to the ocean.
At the business end, we soon struck a deal with Bouj Windsurf Adventures to act as their partner with primary focus on the UK market. I think until then, Moulay was mostly frequented by the French and Spanish, likely for obvious historical reasons. This was the first partnership of its kind for us and seemed a natural one as the guys that work at the centre very much share the same outlook and passion as we do at Oceansource. The centre is fully equipped with the latest Starboard/Severne equipment including some prototypes which Bouj has used for research and development.
Let’s say that it took a good year to get Moulay off the ground as firstly, not everyone had even heard of it and if you haven’t heard of a place nor aware of the sailing conditions, why would you go? We needed a clinic to get the place off the ground and this was swiftly arranged with PWA pros John Skye and Nayra Alonso. Two weeks back-to-back wave camps were organised after which personal experiences from happy clients rapidly filtered through the ether and we were up and running.
Since then, the place has been working very well and particularly this year as the recession has forced some sailors to stick to shores closer to home. After all, Moulay offers conditions that match those in some of the world’s finest and most established locations and all within 3-4 hours flying from anywhere in Europe. Fair enough, the murky brown waters which give Moulay its own identity may not be to everyone’s taste but when you’re about to smack a logo high lip for the 4th time on the same wave, these anomalies are soon forgotten!
Moulay is developing slowly but surely and with this year’s reopening of the much missed Lawama restaurant and accommodation, there is a new standard in town. Local rider Fettah Ahllamara and his team have done a fantastic job in not just restoring the old restaurant but also including a number of bedrooms on the first floor all boasting spectacular panoramic views across the main sailing areas. This is undoubtedly the finest location to hang-out in Moulay.
Moulay Bouzerktoun has now also been added to the Jem Hall calendar and following a hugely successful ‘recon’ clinic in July, Jem is offering 2 weeks in May 2011 with the first week selling-out in record time. This year we also hosted the first ever Italian wave clinic with Starboard/Severne rider and Funboard Magazine Editor Fabio Calo. A report on this clinic including video will appear here shortly.
One thing’s for sure…and that is that Moulay is now firmly positioned on the global windsurfing stage as one of the finest wave spots on earth. This unique location characterised by local charm and boundless passion is an experience not to be missed by any windsurfer. I’m convinced that one day the PWA will set sights on Moulay and with it, we will have a new champion.