John Hibbard recalls a highlight from last summer, and suggests some places in Portugal well worth visiting in the spring..
After a windless spell at home myself and Ben Proffitt were desperate for some good days windsurfing and with the Guincho PWA Wave World Cup looming on the calendar we thought we’d take a trip to Portugal and search out some new spots (new to us anyway). After a busy winter and spring flying to photo shoots and press trips I was pretty done with the hassle of getting my kit on to planes, sorting out a hire car on arrival, etc,etc so for this trip we decided to get on a boat! Brittany Ferries Port Aven service from Plymouth to Santander was the perfect solution. It cuts out having to drive through France and meant that we could take all the kit we wanted rather than being restricted with airline excess baggage charges. Slipping silently out off Plymouth we sat back and relaxed on deck in the sunset as the boat took us to northern Spain. Arriving refreshed the next morning we waved goodbye to the comforts of the Port Aven and hit the road for the drive to the west coast of Portugal.
We were heading for Ericeria. A beach about 1 hour north of the famous beach at Guincho. It was a fair old drive from Santander but we were living the high life thanks to Nissan and Fat Face, who had provided us with a brand spanking new top of the range Pathfinder. With the Air con and cruise control set for optimum comfort the miles slipped passed easily.
Early next morning we took our first steps on to the beach at Ericeria. For a while we wondered if we were in the right place as the beach was deserted, except for the perfect lines of head high swell peeling off the point and into the bay. We had struck gold on day one of the trip! Unlike Guincho, which can get very crowded, we soon found ourselves carving neat little lines on perfect, empty Atlantic Ocean swell.
We spent the day there having a great time and it was a major struggle to pack up and leave for the contest at Guincho the following day. After a windless week in Guincho we drove up the west coast and along the north coast of Spain where we scored numerous good sessions before jumping back on the Port Aven for our leisurely cruise home. That part of the trip is another story entirely and one that we will have to tell another time.
Here are some facts about Ericeria
1 Hour north of Guincho on the west coast of Portugal. Really easy to find.
Type of location
There are loads of potential sailing spots in and around Ericeria from flat water blasting to beach break waves to sucky reef break bowls. It is really easy to find the spots as there is a coast road that runs past most of them. Starting in at the south end of town you have the beaches near to the harbour, these are a mix of reef and beach breaks that were totally deserted when we where there. Heading north you come across a really nice wave that breaks at the entrance to a sandy cove. I can’t remember the name of it but it was stacked full of surfers when we were there but we are reliably informed that when the wind really gets up it is a great spot for windsurfing and by then all the surfers have gone in.
Basically you can just pick from a number of great spots.
Why we loved it?
It was empty and it seemed to offer a wider range of conditions than Guincho and you don’t have to hike across half a mile of sand to get to the water like you do in Guincho. Basically it’s a great spot that is well worth a visit.
We had enough wind for 5.2 – 5.8 sailing. It’s generally not as consistent as Guincho but when Guincho is blowing old boots (3.7m weather) then the wind in Ericeria can be a lot more manageable and the swell generally cleaner.
Massive thanks to Brittany Ferries and Nissan for helping us with the trip. The Port Aven service from Plymouth is such a great trip and makes the holiday last that little bit longer. Check out the Brittany Ferries website for more information. http://www.brittanyferries.com