My name is Stephen Gibson and I am originally from Blyth in beautiful Northumberland (brrrr). I originally came to Fuerte in the spring of ’95, the idea being to train in Fuerte for six months to get my windsurfing better having done a semi-break from the sport whilst doing a Language Degree at Uni. I was going to improve and return for the British Wave Series which was beginning in October. But I loved the place immediately and to cut a VERY long story short I didn’t set foot back on British soil for four years, having found myself a job, apartment, new windsurf sponsor and a big hunk of rust in the shape of a Seat Ibiza!
Now, 13 years on I am the proud owner of the legendary Gibson’s Restaurant-eating place of the rich, famous and hungry! Seriously though, I have been running the restaurant with my girlfriend Caroline for the last 8 years and it is going very well. We’ll never be millionaires but I have time to sail every single day there’s wind: priorities!
It all started when…..
It all started when, at the age of 11, my Dad custom-built a tiny rig for me from old parts and attached it to his trusty Sea Panther. I can still remember the first time I saw ripples coming from the nose of the board and realising that it was me making it move! I was hooked instantly.
The early eighties was a fantastic time to be involved in the sport as it was evolving so quickly. It seemed every week there was something totally new and I feel privileged to have been around during this exiting era.
On arrival in Fuerte….
When I arrived in Fuerte, I was still trying to master the “elusive forward”! I had been trying for months at home but due to the inconsistency of the wind and waves on our stretch of coastline I had minimal success. Within a week of arriving in Fuerte and trying very, very hard I was popping forwards off everything on both tacks so the move had definitely been worth it, even at that early stage!
After three years of constant sailing I entered and won the Canarian Wild Card qualifiers for the Sotavento Freestyle World Cup coming from last place after the first day* to wining every round on the final day of competition and claim first place after discards – that was some party! *I had to leave early to get back for work in the hotel where I was head chef so got two last places out of three rounds by just not being there.
In the championships themselves I didn’t do that great finishing mid-fleet (port-tack 3.7m was not really my forte) and decided that that would probably be my last competition as I already had the lifestyle I wanted without the stress of competing. Having said that, I am currently organising a fun wave event at Punta for the locals with the emphasis on fun; watch this space for the video!
Favourite spot in Fuerte….
My favourite spot is definitely Punta Blanca. To me it is like a skate park on water. There are peeling waves at the far end for riding, ramps everywhere for jumping (my favourite) and mirror flat water on the inside for freestyle. Even after 13 years on the island I get super excited when I pull up at Punta and it’s goin off………..
Has Fuerte changed in those 13 years….?
Fuerte is still the windsurfers’ paradise it always has been and can get pretty crowded in the summer, especially at Glass Beach in August when the entire population of Italy can be seen rigging up at the side of the road. Luckily, though a lot of rubbish windsurfers have taken up kitesurfing and now spend their days crashing into each other and getting tangled up at Flag Beach so it’s not as crowded now as it could be! In general, I would say the volume of windsurfing traffic has pretty much remained constant over the last 5 or 6 years and the ambience in the water is generally pleasant – we’re a friendly bunch of locals.
Back to the UK?
I really could not see myself moving back to the UK, I really do have the ideal lifestyle; sailing almost every day in sunshine at the spots I love. I even like my job!
Steve is now on the JP/NeilPryde Team using the new Fly sails and a selection of boards from the JP Freestyle 99 to JP Real World Wave 92 and a JP Twinser Wave 84.
And if you’re ever in Corralejo visit Gibsons Restaurant.