lunedì, novembre 26, 2012

Laida - windiest session ever

Saturday, November 24th - SSE - 27kn base wind; gusts up to 46kn. In different spots the session was even windier, check the video above (that's Santander, 100km far from where I live).

I surfed in Laida with the 7m and the twintip. I had to wait a little bit next to the cafe (eating my favorites pintxos) for better wind, but it was worth it (south winds are extremely gusty here, and I hate it). I went upwind to Kanala on a 2km long run, see the picture below. Definitely love it.

By the way my session counter is up to 40 sessions this here. I won't say mission accomplished because December is still there, so I hope to add up some more...

martedì, novembre 20, 2012

Latest Mudaka / Laida Session

What a great day we had last Sunday in Laida / Mundaka. That's the first time for me with northerly winds (NNW)  in this spot.  Small waves and some bigger sets (nothing more than 1m, by the way) and and good wind. Ok, you can have a look at my face in the video and imagine how much fun I had.

When we got into the water (9:30am) there was high tide, and the beach looked like this:

Once we got out (aroung 12:30pm) it was like this:

...which is a little bit weird because you could almost walk from Laida to Mudaka keeping your feet dry... that's low tide in the Basque Country! :)

To give you an idea, look at the  map below. The distance marked here is 400m, that's where the seashore was at the end of the session. A long walk expected us to get back to the parking...

Some technical notes. I shooted the video above using a different mount for the GoPro, the helmet front mount module plus the curved adhesive fixing part (see picture below). This provides the camera better stability than the vented helmet strap I used for most of my previous videos. I'm quite happy about the result. This mount allows a different (and, in my opinion, a better) shooting angle too. The only drawback is the fact that I'm a little bit afraid of loosing the camera while riding... I don't really trust in the adhesive to keep the camera fixed onto the helmet. I think it makes sense to add a leash in order to prevent the camera getting lost in case it detaches from the helmet.

giovedì, novembre 15, 2012

Carrying your gear with you

I know that sometimes carrying your gear with you during some exotic surf trip could be painful, especially if you need to take some flights to get there. There are three major points I am afraid of:

1) Buying the ticket. You have two options: the first one: you could ask to a specialized travel agency to organize everything for you. This will save you probably lot of time, but probably will cost you more. The second one, and probably the most common for the "indie" surfer - at least in my case - is the "I'll do it by myself". That means hours spent on the internet looking for the cheapest flight fare, hidden costs (see Ryanair for example) and other similar amenities.

2) Preparing for the trip. While I probably spend 5 minutes preparing my personal bag - the hand luggage I will carry on board of the aircraft - I use to spend hours packing my gear up There's a reason for that. During the checkin process, depending on the airline I'm flying with, you'll never know what's going to happen. That beatiful girl at the counter could deny you to chek the bag in. Or she will ask you to pay so much money for the excess weight you will have to ask your bank for a loan.
For this reason I prefere to get there well prepared. I can still try to take something off the surfbag and have it lighter (and paying less money) before missing my flight.

3) Waiting for your gear to appear at the destination airport. This is not trivial. 
Firts, I HOPE that everything went well and that my gear was in the same aircraft I flown with.
Second, I never know where the bag will appear, since in the baggage claim areas usually the carousels are to small to transport it. Where's the excess baggage area? Is it going there? 
Third, is everything ok? Is my board damaged? Unfortunately I'll discover it once at destination, because I need to unpack everything - something I won't probably do at the airport after several hours spent awaken on that intercontinental flight. It's like winning the lottery. And, in any case, the airlines seldom consider themselves responsible for a broken board.

I prepared a list containing the fare some airline charges for transporting surf, kite and windsurfing gear. I collected this information on the airline website. I hope it will help you before (or after) making the reservation for your next surf trip. Please do not blame me if you are asked for different price, I'm won't make myself responsible for that... by the way we all know that there are some caveats once at the airport to spend less. Try to be friendly once in front of the desk assistant, and smile. A lot. :)

(click to expand)

The winter in the Spanish north shore

Winter will come soon here in the spanish north shore, and cold temperatures too. I was having a talk with a friend of mine a couple of days ago just after a freezing kite session in Laredo about the weather conditions (kite/wind and surfing related of course) we use to have here during winter time. In just one word: tough.

 You know I'm from italy. I used to surf along the mediterrenean coast. Windsurfing and kitesurfing (as well as surfing, believe it or not) is still ok in winter time since there are a lot of storms hitting the west shores and conditions could become pretty gnarly. You still have the option, if the sea becomes too dangerous to sail out, to go to some internal lake for you session.  You can sail almost all year long if you can stand the cold then. There I was used to sail with almost all wind directions (the only exception was when the wind was blowing from the east... but the east shore is not far awawy from where I was living). There are almost 30 different spots in a 100km radius, pleanty of different options, from wave to freeride. And even when there seems to be no option to sail, when the conditions permit it, you still have the opportunity to sail in particular places like this...

 Now the situation in the spanish north shore, and particulary in the basque coast, is quite different. First, this is The OCEAN, not a SEA. Everything here is amplified: bigger storms, stronger winds, huge waves. The basque coast has lot of cliffs, and most of the beaches are within bays or even coves, meaning the conditions here are almost onshore (see my previous post here). There are few exceptions, like in Mundaka (southern winds, offshore condition), but the wind is still incredibly gusty there, making your session a potential nightmare. Lakes ("pantanos" here) are not an option in winter time because of the chilling temperatures.
Considering that with onshore winds the the ocean become messy, waves are mushy or huges... you have the complete picture.

If you take the book "The kite and windsurfing guide - Europe edition" there are only 7 surfable spots in the Basque Country - merely two pages, pictures included. Hondarribia, la Zurriola, Mundaka, Gorliz, Sopelana, Arrigunaga and Ereaga. There are at leat one missing ("La Arena" beach) which is not mentioned by the book, but at the end we're still under the "two hand" count.

Of course, if you take the car and travel to the west, in Cantabria, you'd have better options. But that's a different story, I will come back to it in a later post.