Tarifa was once an incredible capital for water-sports, thriving with windsurfers until it began to drop off the map a little, well just recently it seems to have been making its comeback. Many pros are starting to favour it over the usual winter destinations such as Cape Town, Western Australia, Bonaire and more. Not just for one particular discipline either but instead for all. So we decided to catch up with the pros that were there this winter to get their take on what is dubbed ‘little Cape Town’. The first part in this three part series sees us hooking up with Tom Malina from Czech Republic for his slalom insights, over to Tom.
Tarifa Part 1 – Slalom with Tom Malina
Tarifa is well known as a European Mecca of windsurfing. Typical strong Levante winds, sun and nice temperatures over the summer with decent swell and Poniente wind over the winter. But the last couple years especially during the winter months Tarifa has become a good training ground for the top slalom sailors to prepare themselves for the upcoming season. There are many reasons why we meet up at this place, here are just some of them.
As a slalom guy from the middle of Europe (which means without the sea!) I have been always been searching for a place where I can train and spend my winter time. For six years Cape Town was my second home but it was always more about wave sailing and chilling than proper training and it became every year more and more expensive. So after that I decided to move to Tarifa. I can go there with my van as it is only 3000km drive and mainly I can take all my stuff without any restriction, and believe me that slalom sailors have a lot of stuff to carry. This is the first big advantage. When you are there you can stay in camping or if you go for a few months you can rent your own apartment for really nice price as it is the low season. The next thing is good facilities; nice gym, sauna, yoga lessons or if something goes wrong there is windsurfing trauma clinic with Fyzio. Generally speaking living in Spain is still cheap so you don’t have to spend so much from your budget.
The other reason why I like it here and for sure this does not only apply to me, is that there are always friends from the tour with whom you can train and test. Ben van der Steen and Ludo Jossin are locals and it is always good to sail with them. For example this spring when the PWA tour is behind the corner you could see us lining up on the water ready for practising starts or laying out some buoys for gybing with guys like Gonzalo Costa Hoevel, Marco Lang, Kurosh Kiani, Antoine Questel, Dennis Little and many more. We are all coming to Tarifa because it offers wind almost every day, nice temperatures most of the time over 15C, sun and in winter some nice waves as well. For testing our gear and for effective training we need various conditions and this is the right place.
Now to talk about the wind directions, Poniente is the west wind which works during the winter and spring most days. It is blowing from the Atlantic ocean with a strength from 3-5bft and it often brings good waves or big chop as well. Nice conditions for testing our big or medium boards and bigger sails from 9.5 to 7.0. With Poniente we usually sail at Arte Vida hotel sometimes at Valdevagueros or when is the wind direction is more from north we go to Kite beach. I don’t like those kind of conditions so much particularly when it is super choppy but on the other hand this is the best practise for competitions you can get. (Editors note: Confused about all these spot names? Tune in next week when we will have a map of all the locations).
Levante wind is a different story. Warmer wind coming from the south-east (offshore), which needs a couple days to become steady to hit Tarifa with its full strength later. Ordinarily it blows for a few days and it can rise up to 9Bft! During those days we have high wind slalom practise or speed sessions, we can tune our smallest boards and sails from 7.0 down to 5.5. I enjoy Levante time more than the other one as it is more sun and warmer. Sometimes it feels like a paradise on Earth. When it is the classic Levante day we usually go to the Dune. Normally it is full of kiters but as soon as the wind is strong enough they just disappear. Sometimes the direction of the wind can change a bit during the day so we end up at Kite beach or Playa Chica. When there is flat water as well we love to go to Campo de Fubol in the town for some speed sailing. Almost 2km long speed runs along beach can be nice experience, blasting in 40 knots down the course just a couple meters from the beach pumps your body with massive dose of adrenaline.
As I mentioned before there can be a couple days for good wave sailing as well. It is always nice to swith off the slalom routine and enjoy some wave riding or jumping. Depends on the wind direction we normally sail in Bolognia or Los Canos de Meca when is Levante or Arte Vida and Zahara when Poniente. We are also enjoying surfing days when there is no wind at all and believe me it can be really sick! (Editors note: More on this in our wave part to this series).
Well that’s why we love to go to Tarifa. There is not many days when there is nothing to do and if it happens you are just chilling and looking forward for the next windy day, catching up on a few emails or visiting friends.
Tom Malina (CZE109) is sponsored by – Fanatic/Simmer, O’Neill, SVS, Identity, Sika, TBG, Surfcentrum Šeba.
Find out more on Tom and follow his progress on the PWA Tour this year over at – www.tom-malina.com