The second year in and the Dahab Festival is clearly going from strength to strength, Adam Spawton-Rice catches up with Colin ‘Whippy’ Dixon about what is in store this year…
Surfing against the tide in Egypt
Dogged by tourist-doubt following the 2011 Arab Spring, Egypt now needs to prove not only that visitors will be safe there, but to really showcase its assets. The far flung eastern coastal resort of Dahab didn’t immediately feel the after effects of the country’s revolution, but tourism numbers have begun to shrink at an alarming rate.
Based in Dahab with Club Vass for one half of the year (and Greece for the other), Colin ‘Whippy’ Dixon has become heavily involved with the community of windsurfers in the area. A freestyle and slalom champ, with a cluster of titles already under his belt, we caught up with Colin as he prepared to judge the freestyle windsurf competition for this year’s Dahab Festival.
The annual Dahab Festival of Culture and Water sports marks out the area, as it has long been known to divers and windsurfers, as a water sports and underwater pursuits hotspot. Taking place in April this year, as well as live music, diving and photography competitions and judging that competition will be UK and European freestyler and slalom champ Colin Dixon.
Adam Spawton-Rice catches up with Colin to find out why a windsurfing holiday to Dahab is where it’s at in 2012.
Interview with Colin:
Hi Colin, how are you?
Good cheers, excited for what’s to come!
How did you become involved with the Dahab Festival?
The head honchos in Dahab called everyone in the area up, then we all sat down and talked about how we could make it desirable for tourists. One solution we came up with was the festival, and then me and my friend James Hoare suggested a windsurfing competition – it got the thumbs up straight away.
So what exactly is the Festival all about?
It’s in its second year now, 1 year since the Egyptian revolution. Windsurfing is massive in Dahab, I would even say half the tourists are windsurfers or kite surfers, and the other half are divers. It definitely makes sense that it’s Culture and Water sports – although it’s all about the water sports for us.
The festival kicked off last year as a way of telling people that Egypt was still safe and that (especially in the Red Sea) everything is running as normal – it’s about showing people what Dahab has to offer.
Are you worried about the situation in Egypt at the moment, do you think it will interfere with the event?
I think [Egypt has] been through the worst of it now, it can only get better. And no, I don’t think the situation has much chance of interfering.
What else is going on during the day/night, throughout the event?
There will be all sorts; Diving and free diving, yoga (there’s lots of that sort of thing going on here), Bedouin culture events, Tow-in windsurfing, kite surfing… wild parties after dark and some live music too.
How is the wind there, what are the waves like?
The wind is good and strong, and there are some wave spots but I would say Dahab is famous because of the crystal-clear, blue, flat water.
Tell us more about the windsurfing competition.
For the windsurfing part of the festival we’re having freestyle comp, and to make things interesting we’re also having a night tow-in competition. The competitions are open to anyone, but skills-wise you’re going to need to be at an advanced level.
What difference would you say there is between Dahab and other destinations (outside of Egypt)?
Dahab is a lot windier than most places in Egypt because it squeezes off of Saudi and gives us about 5 knots more wind than anywhere else. It gets pretty choppy if you sail downwind, but super flat if you sail just off the beach.
Ideal weather conditions/time of year (During festival)?
It’s windy for about 300 days a year, so any time is good in Dahab. My favourite time of year is just before the summer starts and just after good temperatures and strong winds. [laughs] We all wish for that 4.7 weather, for 5 days straight, the problem is you can never tell until closer to the time – welcome to windsurfing!…Always waiting for the good forecast.
How long is Dahab fest on for?
The festival itself goes on for only a week, but it’s like a mini festival and there is always something to do on dry land.
Where can visitors/competitors stay?
We don’t recommend any hotels in particular. There are a full range of accommodations available in Dahab, from 5 Euro a night camps, all the way up to 5* Hotels like the Dahab Hilton.
Will you be competing in the windsurfing or any of the other events?
I’ll be judging the freestyle competition, but we’re all running around doing stuff for other events too. It’s gonna be amazing. See you there.
For more information on the 2012 Dahab Festival, including other events check out www.dahabfestival.info
Colin is sponsored by Starboard, Severne, Clubvass, Boardwise, Dwarf8