Thursday, 9 July 2009

Straight From The Horse's Mouth.

This is what Mark had to say about his experience in Fuerte...................The challenge was to see if me, my wife Niamh and our 17 month old baby girl Kayla could have a top notch family holiday combined with a few days of proper wave sailing – surely impossible? Now we get pretty good conditions at home, so the deal was I was only going to sail if it was as good, or better, than what we get here.

On the advice of Oisin van Gelderen, on an Irish forum, I got in contact with Stephen Gibson, who is a JP/Neil Pryde sailor based in Fuerte (, where he also has a restaurant, to arrange some coaching/ a clinic. (He also has a thread here ). I wanted a laid back approach where I’d only go sailing on a solid forecast in the right spot, minimising time wasted driving around the place. I emailed him about two months ago and he couldn’t have been more helpful, was cool with our plans and gave advice on what to bring etc.

As you can’t get direct to Fuerte from my local airport we flew to Lanzarote, rented a car and got the ferry (Didn’t get charged for bringing my gear on the plane which was sweet.) We got a good deal on a really nice hotel at the edge of Corralejo near the big beach. My wife was able to go running out to the big hotels every morning at 7am, so she was really happy.

On Sunday 21st we called into Stephen’s restaurant in Corralejo (called Gibson’s ), and discovered that he is a great chef, and one of the nicest guys you can meet. We tried a few other places other nights but kept going back to Gibson’s as it was the best we found in the town. One night we were eating in the restaurant and our little girl was acting up and Stephen came out and entertained her while we ate our dinner – totally cool guy.

Anyway, on to the important bit: windsurfing. I arrived on the 20th June and it looked like the trades were kicking in. I could have sailed three days the start of that week on 5.6 and maybe 5.0 at Glass beach. Waves were small, so I decided to hang on until it really kicked in (remember this is a family holiday so only looking for quality conditions). Big mistake. The forecast turned horrible with five days of no wind. I was getting a bit antsy and it looked like things were going to go pear shaped. I actually felt bad for Stephen as every time we called in he was apologising that the trades hadn’t kicked in. Then the forecast showed wind for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd of July. I decided to do a looping clinic on the 1st and the 3rd and go free sailing on the 2nd.

1st July – Warm Up at Punta Blanca

We had a nice warm up day on the 1st at Punta Blanca – 5.6 weather. I had never been there before and it is a cool place to sail – amazing for jumping. The drive from Corralejo is funny, with a fair bit of dirt track.

There is volcanic rock everywhere and a tiny patch of sand. A bit like sailing on the moon. At low tide you walk out across the volcanic rock and chuck your gear into the water and jump in. Even with little swell, the place throws up big steep ramps. There wasn’t enough wind for looping so we canned the clinic and just sailed.

2nd July – Down the line at Lajos

On the 2nd the wind looked more Northerly so Stephen made the call to head down the east side of the island. Glass beach was busy so we drove down to Lajos, a point break, close to Puerto del Rosario, about 20 mins from Corralejo. There is no way I would have found the place without the local knowledge and it rocked. Boom to head high waves, powered up on 5.0 cross, to cross off wind. All local sailors plus me. A really sweet session at a really cool place.

3rd July – Forward Friday at Punta

I really wanted to learn something so we decided to head to Punta Blanca on Friday, my last day for a clinic on forwards. Arrived to see 5.0 weather with some nice ramps. The higher tide meant we could launch from the beach, which was a bit of a novelty.

This was the day I did a clinic and it began with a quick discussion by Stephen about technique. The clinic was one to one which I found perfect for learning, particularly in a short space of time. I have been trying loops for about a year without much success – lots of back splatting.

We went out and I went for one off a small wave with him sailing really close behind me.

We then sailed back and he corrected my technique. I went for a good few more off small waves, always with him sailing close behind me. After I had crashed he’d usually do a forward correctly right in front of me (or a push or back loop). Not sure if this was by design, but I found this really motivating.

After about 45 mins of practice he reckoned my technique was good enough to go off proper ramps. We sailed out, again with him behind me and I went for it off a boom high ramp, got proper rotation. Wow, what a nice feeling. Jump. Pause. Stomach flip. Splash down with all of the gear pointing the right way.

I felt like I was making real progress, but was getting tired. Doing a loop attempt on every run takes it out of you. We free sailed for a bit and then took a break. At this point I managed to get the hire car stuck in the sand. Thanks to Paul for towing me out.

After the break we resumed but I was back at the beginning. Embarrassing attempt:

The wind had picked up and I went for several but wasn’t getting decent rotation. I started to get a bit pissed off and we had a bit of a chat. Stephen pointed out that I was sailing a bit downwind for the good ramps. I sailed out behind him and he pulled one and I did one right after him. Much better:

After that I was in the groove with perfect ramps lining up on every run. I think I pulled three big (for me!) loops in a row with the board landing right underneath me. I know there are still things to be worked on but I am way closer after just a half days instruction.

Totally stoked. This was one of the best days sailing I ever had. I actually found it hard to sleep that night.

In short probably one of the best holidays we’ve had (my wife would have given it a 10, except the baby cried the whole 3 ½ hours home on the plane) plus some really good wave sailing, with Friday the 3rd July being one of my all time sessions. If you want to have a really nice family holiday combined with learning with one to one coaching then I recommend getting in contact with Stephen Gibson and going to Fuerte. I am going back next year to learn push loops.

Pretty stoked, I reckon.................

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Welcome to the site!
Aswell as regular features and news updates from Fuerte, I am going to be using this site to promote my windsurfing clinics.
After 15 years on the island,having competed in the PWA freestyle world cup and now representing Fanatic Boards and North Sails, I have decided to give something back to the sport which has given me so much over the years.
My aim is to provide clinics "tailor-made"for each individual, with a strong emphasis on practical in-the-water instruction, backed up by on-the-beach tuition and video analysis. The consistent conditions here in Fuerte make learning so much easier and, perhaps equally important, more fun than the typically inconsistent, cold UK - why not come over for a week and improve your windsurfing by a year!!!

I can help with any manoeuvres from carve-gybe through to advanced jumping and freestyle, just email me with your wish list and we'll take it from there! Over the next few months, I am going to be video-chronicling manoeuvres which you can check out on the right in my tricktionary sections. This will give you some idea of the things we can work on, or, if you can't make it over here, you may find them useful to help understand and break down a manoeuvre you would like to learn (hopefully, the slow-mo will help in this respect!).Just click on the trick and scroll down..........
Anyway, keep checking it out as I have loads more in my bag of tricks and will be updating as and when I get the footage.
If you're interested, e-mail me on
See ya in Fuerte?