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Sotavento, Fuerteventura

16:23 22nd February 2012 by Letitia Hristodorescu
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Home to the PWA World Cup, Sotavento is a resort known for its wind! It can howl during the summer months guaranteeing hours and hours of blasting for the huge number of European windsurfers that go there. It can be gusty and is certainly choppy but the wind stats bring people back year after year.

Fact File

Windy Season All year round
Average Wind Speed 15-35 Knots
Flight Time (From UK) 4 hours
How To Get There

Fly

Dial a Flight have great flight only deals. This summer (2004) you could fly from Gatwick to Fuerteventura with British Airways for £100. They also do charter flight bookings. www.dialaflight.comTel. 0870 333 4488

Monarch Airways also go to Fuerteventura and charge £60 per windsurfer. Flights cost between £150 and £250 depending on the time of year.

www.flymonarch.com

Tel. 0870 458 2861

Car & Ferry

If you want to drive then you can travel from Portsmouth to Bilbao every Tues and Sat with P&O Ferries. The journey takes 32hrs. Tel. 08705 20 20 20

Then drive across Spain to Cadiz to get the 48hr ferry to Gran Canaria which in a van costs around £600. Then get an inter island ferry to Morro Jable on Fuerteventura which is only 20mins from Sotavento by car! If we haven’t put you off then check out

www.trasmediterranea.es for ferry details.

Transfer from airport

Quite surprisingly, the hotels or centres don’t pick up guests from the airport for the hour and a half journey to Sotavento. However there are plenty of airport taxis or you can rent a car which you will need during the week if you are staying anywhere but the Sol Gorriones Hotel.

Car rental

We booked an economy car at £99 for the week plus insurance through www.holidayautos.co.ukwhich is part of the Lastminute.com group. They assigned us a car from Hertz which we picked up at the airport.

Tip: if you are travelling with windsurf kit, don’t tell them and don’t load the kit on the car in view of the car hire desk. They don’t like windsurf kit on the roof and have been known to refuse to rent you the car. Also don’t order roof racks as this makes them suspicion! The Sportif package includes car rental.

PACKAGE DEALS

Sportif have been sending clients to Sotavento for 23 years! They currently send 25 sailors every week. Their prices start from £477 staying at the 4 star Sol Gorriones for 7 nights, half board, flights AND car hire as there is no transfer available from the airport.

Tel: 01273 844919

Planet Windsurf also go to the 4 star Sol Gorriones right on the beach. 2004 prices start from £415 for 7 nights including flights and half board. www.planetwindsurf.com Tel.  0870 749 1959

How The Wind Works

he island of Fuerteventura has a prevailing NE trade wind which is more consistent in the summer. This NE wind blows over the land between two mountain peaks at the narrowest part of the island. As it does this the wind backs giving a very localised, cross offshore breeze at Sotavento. Coupled with a sea breeze as the day heats up, the resort is consistently windy with most of July and August spent on a 4m or less.

But the wind is always cross off shore and therefore will ALWAYS be gusty.

Outside of summer the wind can also blow from the east and south which is generally onshore and is not as reliable.

The Sailing Spots

THE BEACH

Beach face: east
Best wind direction: north east
Worst wind direction: west
Tide: not a lot and it doesn’t affect the windsurfing area
What’s on the bottom?: sand
Any hazards: other windsurfers. It can get busy but head upwind and the bay will be all yours.
Other water users: kitesurfers have their own area downwind of the windsurfers

SUITABILITY/LEVELS

Beginners and maybe even intermediates should go to the Pro Centre II with the flat water lagoon that is tide dependant. Those getting into the footstraps and learning to waterstart will struggle in the choppy and gusty conditions at Pro Centre I. For those beyond the carve gybe, it depends what you are working on.

For blasting/speed, sail downwind from the Pro Centre I but watch out for the kitesurfers.

For aerial freestyle, go upwind of Pro Centre I where it is quieter and look for the small, flattish patches closer to the shore to pop the board out.

For non-aerial freestyle (monkey gybes, 360’s etc) go some where else!! It is not the place to learn carving tricks.

For wave sailing go to Pro Centre II where shoulder to head high waves can break on the sand bar. But if you want proper wave riding, head north.

WIPEOUT FACTOR

Your only issue is if you break your kit and slowly drift offshore back to Spain. But rescue cover and look outs are maintained throughout the day. Even if you’re not using the Rene Egli Centre, their rescue services will help you out. Just buy them a beer once you’re shore side!

Water State

You can get a real mixture at Sotavento even in one summer week. You can get up to head high waves from random Atlantic swell or if it’s been strong NE winds for a few days. Most of the time it is described as flat but this is rubbish!! It is choppy and during our week it was awful death chop, making gybing a bouncy experience with the only “flat” water a few feet from the shore line. However, during our week we had a lot of north in the wind, which made it more gusty and offshore.

Down the road at the Pro Center Rene-Egli II, there is a proper flat water lagoon but it is mainly used by beginners.

Outside of summer, the NE trade wind is less consistent although you can get a good week. You also get onshore winds producing “home from home” chop and mush conditions, but at least it will be warmer than the UK.

Sea Temp

We went in June and you can sail in just your swimwear. But if it’s 4.5m weather and less it can get a bit chilly in a bikini. In the summer take a shortie, and at all other times take a 3mm/2mm summer suit.

Instruction And Kit Hire

Firstly, let’s make one thing clear. Sotavento is the Rene Egli Centre and the Rene Egli centre is Sotavento. There is no other alternative to hiring kit or getting a lesson and knowing the politics in the Canaries, there never will be!

He has two centres: Pro Centre I and Pro Centre II, five minutes drive apart.

If you are a beginner then go to Pro Centre II with its shallow lagoon. Carve gybers and beyond tend to sail at Pro Centre I. You can sail and reserve a board at both. I don’t think they will take your own kit in the shuttle bus so unless you have transport you are stuck at one. Don’t even think about sailing down as you will never get back.

Kit Hire

Rene Egli Centre stocks JP boards (full range), F2 boards (Eliminators, Styles, Stokes, SX110 Slalom boards and Power Glides) and Neilpryde sails (3.3m to 7.9m Cores, Zones, Search, Jets and Sabers).

Daily rental: 60 euro for F2/Neilpryde kit, 67 euro for JP/Neilpryde kit

They will also hire you a wetsuit and harness for the day at 20 euro.

Just turn up at the centre on the beach.

6 days rental (pre booked): £160 for F2/Neilpryde £180 for JP/Neilpryde
14 days rental (pre booked): £259 for F2/Neilpryde £305 for JP/Neilpryde

On all of the above, you choose a board and that becomes yours for the hire period BUT you can change it or try other boards if they are available. You help yourself to whatever sails you require from the rig pool. No one was short of a sail when we were there.

Note: you can’t take the kit away from the centre for a quick wave sail up north.

Bringing your own kit

The Centre charges for storage of personal kit but this includes use of all their facilities like showers, toilets and rescue boats!

7 day storage: 59 euro 14 day storage: 105 euro

Instruction

This can be pre booked, or for a one off lesson you can book once you are there.

10hrs Beginner Package over 7 days (pre booked): £119
6 hrs Refresher course (waterstart, footstraps etc, pre booked): £95
Individual 1 hour lesson booked when you get there: 51 euro

For all of the above contact Rene Egli centre direct: info@rene-egli.com Tel . 0034 9 28 54 74 83  (They speak good English)

Or book through Sportif (01273 844919) or Planet Windsurf (0870 749 1959)

Accommodation

For swanky accommodation then stay on the beach at the Sol Gorriones near Pro Centre I. All other accommodation is in Costa Calma, a fine German resort 2 mins drive away with plenty of hotels and apartments for rent.

Sol Gorriones 2004 hotelprices for guests using the Rene Egli Centre and booking directly with the hotel:

12th April to 12th July: 37 euro + 5% local tax (per person per night plus breakfast)
13th July to 9 th Dec: 45 euro + 5% local tax

sol.gorriones@solmelia.com Tel. 0034 928 547025

Or book through Sportif or Planet Windsurf (prices above in Package Deals section)

Apartments in Costa Calma: Sergio Becker is an English speaking local who seems to know everybody and everything that’s going on in Costa Calma. He has some apartments to rent but if they are full or you want a hotel, he will help you out.

His apartments sleep 4/5 and cost 30 euro a night for the whole place. He can also arrange car hire for 25 euro per day.

roby77@mixmail.com Tel. 0034 655 474494

Top Tip: you can get good discounts if you say you are a World Cup sailor training for the PWA event in July. It may not work in every hotel but give it a go!

Costa Calma accommodation websites

Food

If you like German cuisine you’re in for a treat as Costa Calma is more German then Spanish. Lots of cheap cafes and restaurants in the town and the supermarkets are small but well stocked. There are also McDonalds and Burger King’s but obviously as healthy, fit windsurfers you won’t be eating in those establishments!

Nightlife

Costa Calma is a lot quieter than the resort of Corralejo in the north but it still has plenty of cheesy nightclubs playing the latest in German pop music. The Sol Gorriones Hotel has its own nightclub which apparently gets quite busy.

Bored Of Windsurfing

If you don’t have a car then it’s sunbathing and massages on the beach (sounds perfect!). If you do have a car then after buying some tacky souvenirs in Costa Calma you will become bored with the town and want to explore elsewhere.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Visit the famous British resort of Corralejo with its tacky shops and British pubs.
  • On the way you can have a look at Glass and Flag beach. The journey takes just under 2 hours.
  • Have a diving lesson: apparently the north coastline has some of the best diving sites in the world. Try Abyss Divers (PADI recognised): 0034 928 537 297
  • Take a catamaran cruise from Corralejo. Ocean Cat: 0034 928 163 084

Go to Lanzarote! The Fred Olsen Express takes 12mins to travel from Corralejo to Playa Blanca on Lanzarote. www.fredolsen.es

Hot Tips

Off the water:

Early to mid June is a good time to come. The wind is consistent but the centre is not that busy, hence more room on the water. They also won’t have started building the World Cup facilities (see below).

Nadia Pfister does the best après sail massages right on the beach at Pro Centre I. She charges 30 euro for 40mins and they are well worth it after a knee jerking, back wrenching Sotavento sail.

Be ready for naked couples in their 60’s walking hand in hand down the beach. It’s enough to put you off your carve gybe.

On the water:

If the forecast wind is more N than NE than expect a gusty day at Sotavento as the wind is more offshore.

To avoid the crowds, sail upwind where you will have the bay to yourself or wait till after 4pm when everyone else has gone in. The centre stays open till 7pm.

PWA WORLD Cup

The PWA have been coming to Sotavento for 19 years. This year (2004) sees a Freestyle Cup, a Supercross event and a World Speed Championships.

The events in 2004 were held between the 17-25 July with Kitesurfing World Champs straight after from 26th July-8th Aug.

So do you come for a week’s holiday during this time?

Yes, if you want to mingle with the world’s best and party all night. However, the competition is held in the same place that you would sail, so the Centre moves the ‘guest area’ slightly downwind. BUT because of the kitesurfers downwind, you will not have as much space on the water. We suggest you sail at Pro Centre II down the road.

The Sol Gorriones Hotel gets very busy and loud during these times and with thousands of people from all over the Canaries there for the nightly parties and to watch the action, it may not be the relaxing and quiet break you were looking for.

During our stay in late June, they were erecting the massive tent ready for the competition. This was a noisy process and involved large lorries trundling feet away from our sun beds. You have been warned!

Conclusion

Well equipped centre, plenty of accommodation choice, warm, sunny and lots of wind BUT not the easiest place to sail. Awfully choppy and some days were so gusty that it was hard to enjoy yourself on the water. There are better places for flat water sailing, but the wind stats seem to convince people that this is the place to go

Tourist

Name: Chris Audsley, Richard Audsley and Louise Emery
Local beach in UK: Hill Head and West Shore, Llandudno
How many years sailing: 13 yrs & 6yrs
Last windsurf move you cracked: A ponch for Chris, a spock for Richard and a vulcan for Louise.
What you’re working on now: Switch stance grubbies for Chris, normal grubbies for Richard and more vulcans for Louise.

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