Looking for that last minute trip with maximum chance of wind and/or waves? Well here is another instalment from Max Rowe, this time reporting literally from the beach. He covers where the budding wave head should visit and what’s the most appropriate place for someone looking for flatter waters to blast their hearts out.
This month is going to be a rather easy one for me to write about as one spot I have just returned from a couple of weeks ago and the other spot I am writing about whilst sat right here after a days sick windsurf! I had previously promised an insight to the Gorge this month, however after some words with local hotshot Bryan Metcalf-Perez I’ll save that excitement for Julys’ feature.
So I know this is another article about a spot in Egypt however at this time of year there doesn’t really seem to be too many reliable spots for good consistent wind. All the ‘Med’ spots are just starting to get good and there is really nowhere that will be as reliably windy as Egypt around this time of year.
A few weeks ago I visited Soma Bay for the Fanatic/ North Freestyle 2013 photo shoot. The bay itself is very different to places like Dahab due to the bay itself actually being pretty big! Before visiting I had assumed it to be similar in that all the centres are along one strip of beach, however it’s a lot more spread out. This means that its very unlikely that it would ever feel that crowded.
We were based at Club Robinsons on the north side of the bay and even though there was a bunch of windsurfers sailing in the bay we only had to put in a few tacks upwind then we were pretty much isolated for sailing whilst the wind blew.
As far as centres go there is also a ‘Planet windsurfing’ centre in the bay. Certain areas of the bay are predominately for kitesurfers and there are hundreds of them. It’s worth making sure you’re not within harms way of the “Tea Bagers”.
Conditions wise it’s very similar to most other spots I’ve visited in Egypt, classic flat water, perfect for blasting, slalom or freestyle. In the 7 days we were there in the beginning of May we had 4 windy days on a very suspect looking forecast. I was using between 4.7 and 5.3 every day it was windy. Typically as we were leaving it looked like it was about to go off.
Where to stay?
The Club Robinsons hotel and it’s set up was amazing but it really didn’t feel like you’re in Egypt. The food was unbelievable and the staff all very friendly but even when I spoke to the Egyptian staff in Arabic they would respond in German, pretty awkward at times!! I would recommend staying there if you’re either in a group of at least 4 or you are indeed German of course.
In terms of staying there on the cheap “like I normally would” its not as easy as in places like Dahab due to the greater number of all inclusive hotels but this definitely doesn’t mean it isn’t possible. It just would mean a fair amount of research before.
- Fly to Hurghada with the low cost airlines such as Thomas cook opposed to Egypt Air as their excess baggage policy is ridiculous.
- Look out for the Turtles.
- Don’t stand on the reef
- Take some tennis rackets just incase…
Other freestyle spots worth considering in June are of course Dahab over on the Sinai Peninsula; check out the Clubvass website (below) for more info. Also Vassiliki is just starting to get windy as well and June can be awesome out there so that’s also worth a look into – www.clubvass.com
As a bit of a first in this feature the wave side of the article is going to be about somewhere I have actually visited myself. In fact I’m sat writing this article after a day’s windsurfing the waves sat in my deck chair on a campsite over looking Guincho itself.
After only one day on the water I still fell like I’m in a valuable position to offer some top tips about the spot. It doesn’t seem like there are many other wave spots bar the well-documented Canary Islands that can offer these kinds of conditions throughout the summer months.
Well together with my girlfriend we have embarked on a windsurfing/surfing road trip of France, Spain and Portugal so we have indeed driven out here. The spot is, however, very close to Lisbon, so flying out here and renting a car is another feasible option.
What to bring
Except from the occasional day without swell this is an out and out wave spot so there no real point in bringing anything but wave kit. A small and a big board would be particularly useful for here as the days when the wind is more fickle it can be extremely light just off the beach in the impact zone. I found this out the hard way wobbling out on a 72lt today! Sail wise its worth bringing a standard quiver from 4.2-5.7 and I’ve been told that in the middle of summer you’ll need as small as a 3.7/3.2 to make the most out the windy afternoons.
Even after one session here I was pretty reassured in the fact I had some spare masts in the van as at a few points I could see it going horribly wrong. We had a 2.5m swell forecast along with a wind forecast that apparently didn’t deliver to its normal potential. This meant the wind was going from 25kts to 5kts within about fifteen minutes. Making the launch pretty scary! I was also unfortunate enough to be one of the furthest out the back when the wind dropped and after a ten-minute swim I finally made it into the joy of logo high white water! I was lucky enough to catch a gust and a wave to get me in but the guys behind me weren’t so fortunate judging by the number of masts left in the car park.
This spot has been host to many a PWA events over the years and I could definitely see the potential in it. Any aspiring wave sailor should be sure to check this one off their list. After all there can’t be many places that deliver like this in the summer months. There is also an amazing bar full of keen windsurfers overlooking the beach for a well deserved after session beer.
Where to stay?
As I mentioned before I’m in campsite in my van which is costing €12 a night for the two of us in the off-season pricing. I had previously read about crashing to sleep in the main car park but I’m pretty sure times may have changed as there seems to be a strict no camping policy plus they charge €5 a day and close at 8pm during peak season. The campsite also has mobile homes/caravans/tents to rent if you’re going down that route. There are plenty of hotels around and the beach is at walking distance.
If there is no wind
If there’s no wind and you’re into surfing then it is definitely worth the trip up north an hour or so to Ericeira. There are about 11 world-class waves within a few miles of each other. If it’s too windy in Guincho then Ribheira de llhas in Ericeira can be a bit lighter but it’s a pretty hefty reef break full of rocks and surfers so watch out! The town itself is also very picturesque and typically Portuguese so you wont be disappointed.
- If the wind drops don’t do the long walk back to the car park, just chill for half an hour as it will often come back.
- If it is light on the inside then wait for the big sets to come through out the back.
- Park as far down the car park as possible.
- The upwind car park does charge but it’s definitely worth it!
In next months feature I’ll be recommending the very well known Fuerteventura and the less well-known Sagres, Portugal for the freestyle side of things. Also July can be the best month out in Vassiliki but August also goes off there so I’ll save that feature for then. In terms of waves I’ll bring the inside knowledge from the Columbia River Gorge!