Mauritius Diary

Boardseeker

A day in the life with Chris Yates

The travel guide with a difference. In part
one, Austrian freestyle chick, Hanna
Poschinger takes us to some of the
local spots of this windsurfing paradise.
Be sure to check back for part two soon
for some big action from Tom Hartmann
and others.

Sunday:

The water is crystal clear – I am planning with my 4.7, a rainbow above me, a colour of different kinds of blue beyond my board and my friends around me… “Am I dead and is THIS heaven?” I am asking myself as one of the Windsurfers looks at me and says: “Please get your seats in an upright position and fasten your seatbelts.“ I am like “Wow- that’s some kind of insider joke, that I obviously didn’t quite get…“ As somebody touches my shoulder, I shrug and suddenly look into the eyes of a friendly looking woman with a blue costume that kindly points out, that our descent to Mauritius already began. That’s when I realize that I was dreaming, but that I am not far away from making this whole thing come true. I am at the end of my 11 hours flight from Germany to that famous island in the Indian Ocean. In the moment we touch down, the pilot announces the air temperature of 26 degrees, cloudy weather with the chance of rain showers, wind with up to 20 knots and the first brides with ’extensive’ hairstyles, about to start their honeymoon. I finally realize that I reached my destination and I’m so overwhelmed with excitment, happiness and shock of such a beautiful place, my eyes begin to well up. “Welcome to Mauritian wintertime“- I am telling myself, unable to suppress a slight smile as I think about the awesome time I am definitely going to spend there.

Monday:

The good thing is: you don’t realy get jetlagged going from Europe to Mauritius, the timezone there is calculated as MESZ + 2, the bad thing is you feel like you would be after the left-side drive down from the airport to the little village ”La Gaulette”, close to ”Le Morne” (the Surfspot), where you find affordable accomodation that range in their style from very reduced (but comfortable) to highly luxurious. ”Look right- drive left, look right- drive left, look right…” is what I keep telling myself on my way along the islands beautiful coastline, full of sugarcanefields, palmtrees, surrounded by mangroves and reefs. The ”pick up trucks”, that are the most common cars for rent there, are cheap and huge, but always still overloaded with all the gear you take there to seize the surf- and sailing oppurtunities that this place can offer you. I am sitting in a blue four-door vehicle that is pimped in an over-the-top kind of way – a sticker on the front lid saying ”Dreamz Unlimited” but still I feel like the king of the world, cruising with my left hand hanging out of the window. As I go to turn right and accidentially start the wiper instead of the blinker… (easy way to demask tourists in traffic) that’s when I put both of my hands back onto the steering wheel and start my ”Look right – drive left” again in order to reach my final destination in the south-west safely.

After an approximately 70 kilometers drive, the beach of Le Morne is welcoming me as expected: the sun is shining in a blue sky that is spotted with several clouds, the guys on the beach are rigging their 4.7/5.0’s and pick their freestyleboards for a session in the lagoon whilst the tide is too low for any wave action. Lake Neusiedl local Max Matissek is showing some powerful new-school freestyle with a perfect style. The sailsizes for Mauritius range between 5.7 and 4.0, depending on the time of the year. The trade winds blow constantly from May to October with a usual wind speed varying between 16 and 30 knots. For sailers who want to score both, wind and waves, the best time to travel there is definitely the period from June to September. The lagoon, which has an expanse of about 600 meters around the promontory of Le Morne, is knee to chest deep (also depending on the tide), with a water temperature of 25 degrees. After spending summer after summer on the Canaries with howling winds and the colder water of the atlantic ocean, going out with my 4.5 ICE, the 90 lts Skate wearing a shorty feels like heaven. Out on the water, the moment in which you do your first tack or jibe to go back to the beach, the view is breathtaking: turquoise water, white coral-sand and the ’monument’ of the spot, the distinctive mountain ’Le Brabant’ raises high into the clouds, just a few hundred meters back from the beach. Life on the beach is very chilled out at the best of times: parts of the main beach are sheltered from the wind, which means that you can watch the action on the water, eating one of Chica’s famous mixed fruit plates with papaya topping, enjoying the warm sun without having sand flying straight into your face. The first day ends at 6 p.m. with the most beautiful sunset ever- couples are kissing, singles are having their first beer and I am sitting there with my coconut, surrounded by friends thinking – Life’s good!.

Tuesday:

The day starts with a cereal breakfast combined with fresh local fruits on the balcony of the house we rent here. Because La Gaulette is located on a hill, the view from most of the houses is stunning: I can see the sea, L’Ile Bernetiers which is located in front of the beach of La Gaulette (mostly called Coconut Island). If I look to the southeast I even see Le Brabant.
The small fishing village, in which we found our accomodation, is located further to the west of the island very close to the surfing mainbeach. You’ll find a small selection of restaurants and a supermarket there, where you can buy almost everything you need. For a bigger variety of fresh fruits, fish and meat you have to drive to Tamarin close to Black River, where you find a huge supermarket and the petrol station (might be interesting/of use, at a certain point).
From my balcony I can see the white waters at the reef and know that the swell is coming in today. We pick our waveboards additionally to the other stuff on the car and start our 10 minutes drive to the beach. Le Morne as a spot seems like a huge playground to me. It doesn’t matter if you are a windsurfer, kitesurfer or if you are into wave riding – whether or not you are a beginner, or an expert who wants to score one of the fastest waves of your life – this spot has it all, all at the same time. The ’Little Reef’ offers small to logo and sometimes, but very rarely, mast high waves. It is the perfect place for your first wave rides or to improve your jumping. Anything is possible starting from your first turns up to backloops, air chahoos and double loops. For more advanced riders, who are already experienced in waveriding, ’Manawa’ the outer reef, a perfect lefthander, might be the place to go. The way out is long (about 2 km) but reachable with only one tack, starting at the little reef. The waves are logo to mast high, on really good days even up to 6 meters and are perfect for smooth to radical turns. You start to wonder if this still belongs to the same island when you see the palmtrees back on the beach small like toys. Good advice is to be really sure of your gear before you go out (ropes, UJ, finscrew, mast completely together), defintiely wear booties at all times (sea urchins), don’t go out there alone and do not underestimate the power of the wave and currents. Baba and his team from Club Mistral who are responsible for the rescue cover there do a great job, but still it’s hard to see it from the beach if someone in Manawa has problems – in that case a kitesurfer might literally save your life, so try to stay nice at the beach even if they piss you off!
If you see guys out there, ripping at the Little Reef or shredding at Manawa it could well be Tom Hartmann (AUT 44) and Dani Bikich (AUT 12) from Austria, that people on the beach already consider as ’Semi locals’. It is Tom who tells me that a huge swell is coming in within the next few days…that’s when the infamous lefthand point break ’One Eye’ is going off.
I’ve had several sessions today, culminating with a sunset freestyle. As I cruise back to the beach day-dreaming, lovely Mauritius reminds me that it is low tide and I get stuck with my 18cm fin on a coral…outch! Mauritius 1, me 0 – but a lesson learnt – low tide and low sun is a bit of a no go in the future!

Part Two:

  • One Eye going off
  • No-wind activities
  • Sunset BBQ’s

A travel diary by Hanna Poschinger
A day in the life with Chris Yates

Final Quote – Tom Hartmann

“Mauritius feels like a second home to me. I try to spend as much time as possible there. The reasons why; It is a chilled out tropical paradise with friendly people, good food and world class sailing. I love hanging out there with friends and it’s all about having a good time on the island.”

 

 

 

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