Saturday, December 24, 2016

Feliz Navidad del Medano!

If anyone is reading this, then we wish you a very happy Christmas from el Medano!

Mt Teide is the highest peak in Spain, and we have a white Christmas here:

Our Christmas tree (nb this is a real wall in our garden, no photoshopping. The bird is one of Nikki's mural paintings) ...

And Nikki has refurbished her art studio for the New Year:

Friday, December 16, 2016

An atmospheric web-cam shot of Cabezo

I wouldn't often describe an image from a web-cam as 'atmospheric', 'moody' etc but there's something about this one of Cabezo, Mt Roja, and El Medano that I really like. Taken a few moments ago at 17:30, normally there should be more light, but that big back-lit mass of cloud is half blocking the sun just as it starts to think about setting over to the right (West).

With thanks to Rudi for installing his webcam on the 'Casas de Colores' that he rents out and manages. Click on these to get the full picture ...

and how about this one - taken half an hour later ...

Monday, November 21, 2016

This made my morning 😀

I was taking my dog for his usual early walk this morning, and happened to come across a van with some cool windsurfing graphics parked in the beach car park. Looking more closely I saw that it was Philip Koster's van and I wondered if he was asleep inside. In fact, I'd actually walked straight past him without recognising him. I wouldn't say that he looked 'boring', but he looked quite smart, and unassuming. Anyway I asked him what he was doing in Tenerife and he told me that he was seeing a top physio who has a clinic here. So we talked for a bit about his injury etc - he was very sad to miss the Aloha Classic (said he didn't even watch it), but even more gutted to miss some good days of wind at Vargas, his local beach. We had a good chat and after a bit I said what a privilege it was to talk to him, at which point he got a bit embarrassed, and shy.

Anyway, afterwards I thought what a top bloke he was, all the stuff that I would have liked to have asked him, and I was wondering if other world champions in other sports would be as approachable in that situation. I guess that I'd like to think that if I'd met say Andy Murray, or Lewis Hamilton walking their dogs they would have been similarly friendly, but footballers - who knows?

So, my point is that it was just a conversation between two windsurfers - about the wind etc - which would probably have been quite boring to other people, but it made my morning for me. 'Boring', like Beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Back to the Blog (with a selection of diary posts from The Canarian Summer)

Right then, back to the blog ... I know, I've neglected it for so long ... got distracted ... published two books co-written with Nikki (I'll talk about them at some point) ... started writing my memoir .... done a whole lot of windsurfing ... and Life here on The Reef chugs along quite nicely.

The daily updates that I could have (probably should be: "should have") been posting here were instead posted to a thread on the Boards forum, started by a fellow windsurfer (Mark) who spends his summer in Lanzarote. His thread is titled: Canarian Summer 2016 (August) The Summer Groove

Anyway, I'll recap a few of my posts on Mark's thread:

30th July 2016:
It's been a great summer for wind so far here in Tenerife. I've been using my 3.7m a lot, and basically could sail every day if my body allowed it. We have had some good waves, but not every day, and not necessarily on the very windy days. Patience, good timing, and a certain amount of luck is needed, but a few of my sessions have been truly memorable.
6th August 2016:
Interesting day for me ... I had a couple of hours on the Quatro MiniThruster 85l in the morning, very well powered on 4.2m (could have used a 3.7). I'll post my feedback when I have time, but I can sum it up by saying that it's a fantastic board. So, quite windy, but the waves were rather disappointing, apart from a few rouge south swell sets.Then just when I was on my way back from the Wall, the wind died completely - as in not enough to sail back. So an 800 meter swim and a long walk back along the beach to end the day for me.
10th August 2016:
I collected the trusty old RRD twin - nice job on new grip by Sr Luca Orsi and had a couple of sessions at el Muelle with 3.7m. After sailing the Quatro MT for my previous session, the RRD felt like a ten year old pair of jeans that have been renovated - fits so perfect, like an old friend ... and to be honest, do I really need a new board? It does everything that I'm able to make it do, and more ...
11th August 2016 (replying to @Dutchdude's comments about my wave riding: "I find getting the right waves there takes skill and a bit of luck. Silicon Beach didn't seem to have a problem to get the waves with a bit of height to get some turns in, looked good.")
Thanks for the kind words Dude ... but to be honest, watching you do such neat tacks just outside the break, I think you are probably a much higher level than me ... it's just that I've been sailing the same waves for nearly ten years now (up to 200 days a year), so I've sort of developed a 'sixth sense' about how and where they break, which ones are going to peel nicely, how to position yourself when it gets crowded etc If I went to a different spot, I'd be struggling a lot more - especially with wind from the right.

Yesterday the waves at the wall were p1ss poor / non existent most of the time ... a rideable set every five minutes at most? So tactics are as important as technique when there are quite a lot of people all desperately trying to catch the few waves. It is a nice spot out of season (May, for example) when we get a decent 2 - 3 metre swell, head high waves, and only a few people out. But the best thing is that is so safe, and you can sail back out around the break, so there shouldn't be conflicts between jumping and riding - much more of a problem at Cabezo. Having said that, I was on a wave a few days ago when a fin wizzed past my head about 50 cms from me! The jumping nutter fell in, turned round, and apologised, but if he'd been any closer I would have had a fin in my head ... I think he should take up kiting - he has the right mentality for it!
12th August 2016:
The south swell is tricky. I've experienced the scenario you describe: riding dtl and you meet a wave wrapping around and coming at you from the other direction. When they're bigger this usually ends up with you having a close encounter with the wall, in a knee high powerful white water. However, the current then sweeps you rapidly around the corner into the harbour. The only times I've broken a mast is in a big south swell ... picked up by a rogue wave, a lot further out, and coming from the 'wrong' direction, when I was looking the other way, and then hurled into the washing machine, lost the kit, swam after it but the mast was already kaput.

In a solid south swell the line-up is about half way along the wall instead of beyond the upwind end (you can catch a wave from up there, but you then meet the express train wrap-around as described, and it usually ends up with the close encounter of the wall kind) ... however, if you get a really solid set you can ride del a lot further downwind - sometimes half way back into the south bay!
16th August 2016:
Yesterday started quite windy and I rigged a 3.7m, only to find myself underpowered and drifting down wind towards Mt Roja .... which was actually lucky ... because there was a chap down there with a broken boom, sitting on his board out in the big swell, heading behind the mountain - a very dangerous situation. I told him that I'd sail back to one of the rental centres and get the boat out for him, but being so underpowered I actually ended up way downwind beyond the kite beach. THrew my kit on the beach and sprinted several hundred metres to the German Naish centre. The owner was sitting there reading a magazine. I breathlessly told him that there was a windsurfer in trouble who needed rescuing (with a Naish sail, in fact). He shrugged and kept on reading. I went next door, and his wife got the binoculars out and eventually they located the chap.

I had a rest (I was knackered after my Usain Bolt-like exertions), had lunch, changed up to 4.2m and had a rewarding session at the Wall, in decent waves.
24th August 2016:
It's funny ... this will probably sound like heresy ... but I actually quite look forward to the wind stopping for a few days When it blows like it has all summer I find it hard to resist. After about three days of solid wind I sometimes say to myself: "you definitely need a rest now". I get up the next day feeling totally knackered, and take my dog for a walk before breakfast. Usually there's no wind that early, and I'm thinking: "OK, great, now I can get on with some other stuff" (I do actually have a part-time job as a tutor on an online course). And then an hour later I'm working on my computer, with the window open, and the first gust blows in. And it's like a switch has been thrown in my brain. I'm on auto pilot, and half an hour later, I'm rigging up.
The USP for El Médano is the sheer number of windy days per year (TWS claim 250 on their website). Some would say that this makes it about quantity rather than quality. And they would probably be right, if you compare the conditions to places with better waves, but perhaps less consistent wind. But it does mean that a windsurfer here gets loads of TOW and stays fit. When you combine this with a near perfect year-round climate, it will hopefully mean that I can keep going with the sport for longer than if I was in the UK (I'm 63 in a few weeks).
So yes, I'm very lucky, and I do realise it  As I see it ... what's the point of planning for / worrying about the future if you find that when it arrives you don't have good enough health to enjoy it?

 This is today's post, 26th August 2016 :
I've had a rest for the last two days, but I was expecting to windsurf today (Friday). Now I'm not so sure ... the forecast has been downgraded. However, it's a lovely clear morning here - no clouds. I'm looking out of my window at the majestic range of mountains leading up to Mt Teide (3,700 metres), against a deep blue sky, and I was about to write: "but there is not a breath of wind" ... and then the first gust blows in through the window. So I'm still optimistic.
Anyway, that brings my windsurfing news up to date.

As I mentioned, I've been doing plenty of writing (just not on here!) ... some with Nikki, and we've (self)published two books:  'Nobody's Poodle' and 'Somebody's Doodle'. I'll post about them separately.
My ongoing project is a memoir. It's a book that I've been working on for quite a while, titled: "The Wind of Change - memoir of a Windsurfing BabyBoomer". Hopefully it will make it into print etc one day (maybe with a foreword by Peter Hart - that would be nice!). There will be lots of travel stories / anecdotes from various places we have windsurfed. I've read plenty of surfing-travel books, but as far as I know, there isn't a windsurfing memoir out there.
The Baby Boomer aspect is maybe something people of my generation can relate to … I was born in 1953, grew up in London in the 60's, played in bands for a living … same age as Tony Blair, who plays guitar and is also probably an ex wannabe hippy :-) Our generation has seen so many changes (hence 'The Wind of Change') - the internet, 'extreme' sports etc … and, of course, we are the lucky ones, compared to younger generations who will have to deal with our mistakes - global warming etc

Anyway - watch this space:-)

Friday, June 24, 2016

"Independence Day"

Bad day for the (so-called) "United" Kingdom (including Scotland?) and a terrible day for Europe.

This morning is like waking up to find that The Donald is now leader of 'The Free World'. By the way, according to the BBC, the presidential hopeful is visiting a golf resort he owns in Scotland today. He said it is a "great thing" that the people of the UK have "taken back their country".

A "triumph for democracy"? Well yes, if you support Farage, Boris, Le Pen, Trump etc ... but, btw, wasn't that Hitler geezer also democratically elected?

Anyway, enough ... it's over (phew) ... It's a 30 knot day here. Life goes on, so f*ck it! I'm going windsurfing - that's always been the best way to get over a morning like this.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Mucho Viento!

Crazy windy today. As I was about to launch with my 3.7m sail (our smallest) someone told me that the wind meter was recording gusts of 54 knots, so I pulled on all the outhaul tension that I could. Walking to the water was hard work, waterstarting / gybing etc were advance maneuvers, and to be honest it was survival mode.

Nikki took some pics at the harbour wall. I like the steel grey light.

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Chinyero Ride

Chinyero ride with (left to right) Richie, me, Cristine, and Anna (taking pics).

We had to wait while the clouds cleared from the summit of Teide, and while we were posing, a drone was buzzing around above us, flown by another couple of bikers taking airial shots.

This is probably the most scenic of our routes, with a mix of pine forest, black volcanic rocks (we start from the 'Arenas Negras' recreational zone), and even meadows of flowers and almond trees that are already in blossom. In places it looks a bit like a Scottish wilderness.

The biking is also a good mix of fast flowy single track, and technical rocky sections. The ride is about 1:45.  The first ten minutes are a brutal uphill, and final ten an exhilarating downhill.