Winter can be a bummer for water sports aficionados in northern Europe. Seemingly dogged by endless cold snaps, it’s a gloomy prospect for most – if you’re into winter windsurfing then in Europe there’s also wind chill to contend with…
There’s nothing worse than cowering behind your van in the car park with a monumental case of ‘hot aches’ – possibly one of the most painful experiences any self-respecting windsurfer will endure.
But this time of year needn’t be cause for concern. In fact, for those with a positive outlook, it can be the best point in the season to get your fix. Pick and choose your days wisely and you will be rewarded with some spiffing conditions. In terms of where to head, check out the following guide…
The Emerald Isle
Since the Millennium Ireland has gained the reputation as a world-renowned destination for hardcore H2O action. Endless Facebook updates from the region’s big wave surfing elite have only compounded this claim.
Windsurfing has also been on the agenda, with Brandon Bay on the Dingle Peninsular getting the lion’s share of publicity – due mainly to the number of world class competitions that have been held there over the years.
The fact remains though that the whole of Ireland’s coastline is ripe for your windsurfing pickings through the winter. From Magheroarty in the north west, to the secret nooks and crannies around Kinsale in Cork, get yourself over to this part of the world when a decent weather chart comes into view and you should definitely score!
Waves, flat water or chop – Ireland can serve it all up. And don’t forget to round off your day’s shenanigans with a well-earned jar of the black stuff.
Another Celtic land that’s great for winter windsurfing is Scotland. As with Ireland, all parts of the country’s coastline are blessed with amazing conditions through the winter and if the sun should shine then the picturesque element of the place really comes through giving you double the pleasure.
The jewel in Scotland’s crown is undoubtedly the Western Isle of Tiree. Tiree is fabled amongst windies as being a spot where you can score all types of conditions in the same day, due the small circumference of the island and the fact this piece of land lies directly in the path of those hollowed low pressure systems. The added bonus of being the UK’s sunniest area (fact!) should only help to encourage a visit.
Tiree can be a mission to access but trust the hype; it will most definitely be worth it. In fact it’s the reason why so many wave sailing competitions have been held there over the years.
If you really are sick to the back teeth of the cold then you could try warmer climes. Spain offers two distinct winter windsurfing locations that will offer everything the travelling windsurfer needs.
Tarifa, located down on the south-facing coastline opposite Gibraltar, has been a winter hideaway for aeons. The wind in Tarifa can deliver all year so heading there in the off-season shouldn’t be cause for concern. In fact, off seson’s usually the best time of year for arranging cheap flight tickets and it’s definitly the best time of year if you want to score any type of wave action.
With daytime air temperatures being in the mid-20s, choosing to spend your winter windsurfing holiday here will evaporate all those memories of dull, grey skies back home. Just watch out for the hordes of kitesurfers that now play here.
If you feel like venturing even further afield then there’s always the staple of the Canaries.
Fuerteventura is the pick of this island crop as the travelling windy can choose from a multitude of different launch locations – from wave to flat.
With decent daytime warmth, it’s no wonder many ‘normal’ holiday makers head here for their winter sun fix, although don’t let that put you off.
If you fancy something a bit different and are happy to do a little exploring then Sardinia in the Mediterranean could be worth a shout. Being a region of Italy, you will not just find fantastic windsurfing conditions, authentic Italian culture will be thrown into the mix as well.
Lying in the Tyrrhenian Sea, Sardinia is in a prime location for strong breeze. During winter the north of the island gets battered by the ferocious Maestrale and Scirocco winds – worth a note is also the amount of swell that the island gets through the dark months. Not for nothing is the island referred to as the ‘Hawaii of the Med’.
Robby Naish famously commented that the Porto Pollo area was the best windsurfing spot he’d ever been to, and during winter it’s possible to have this all to yourself – a stark contrast to the busy summer months.
The spot Robby mentions is where you will find intermediate conditions, but venture off the beaten track and who knows what you may discover – did anybody say world class wave sailing?
Wherever you choose to head in northern Europe for your winter windsurfing holiday, you will most likely score the desired conditions you’re after as this time of year is prime time! Go with an open mind and a sense of adventure and you’ll most likely be rewarded.
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