Our friend Arnaud, who spends all-year-long testing windsurfing equipment around the world, when asked where we should go for windsurfing, he replies blandly: “to Paros”…
Well, putting aside the various problems of our disorganized country, we are considered spoiled, being blessed with the fascinating combination of crystal clear sea & plenty of wind, in an attractive environment full of antiquities, not forgetting the mouthwatering Greek cuisine.
As years go by, less and less we enjoy cold weather, so a week ago, we decided to try Mauritius – Indian Ocean, East of Madagascar, at the Capricorn Tropic level.
This tiny nation is just 10 times the size of Paros island.
The best windsurfing/kite spot is considered Le Morne peninsula, at the SW of the island. Conditions differ dramatically from the ones we are used to in Paros, due to the very different environment. There is a good description by Buzz, which will help first time visitors.
The Indian Resort that was housing the Watersports station Mistral Club (MC), was under renovation and according to plans, 3 new hotels will start operating at the site by February 2015. In the meantime the closer you can lodge is St Regis resort.
Before going to the MC, I decided to check the windsurfing facilities of Lux resort and the Pryde Club just next to it, on the public beach between Lux and Dinarobin resorts.
The Lux material was in a rather poor condition, with very basic sails – equipment good just for beginners.
The Pryde Club is focused on kite & sup, no windsurfing, so there in no real option but the MC further down the beach.
The first day I visited the Mistral Club, was windy alright, but rainy…There was no securely dry place to leave my backpack & camera (no lockers), and my non windsurfing company had nowhere to lay down not getting wet. We walked away looking for a better chance to return.
4 days later, weather conditions looking more favorable, plenty of sunshine and just OK wind ~17 – 19 knots, we went back.
In search of an average-Joe experience, I did not inform the staff about my blog, but just asked for a 120l Gecko board and a large sail, having agreed to book for 1 hour including 10 euros damages insurance – a total of 1,680 rupies (1 euro= 38 rupies).
I got a pair of shoes from the club and started sailing. I familiarized myself with the terrain, always staying within safe limits, as I realized that the waves area was quite far away (1,5 km from shore) with no rescue watch on duty. Although conditions were not thrilling, I tried to get the maximum from my equipment, speeding on the flat water. I soon realized the board was missing punch, and went back to check.
I noticed the fin was relatively small for such a board, and in poor condition,while the 6.9 sail had a torn luff and some patching tape, so I asked for what I thought was the easiest fix – a bigger sail. Surprise, surprise, I had already taken the biggest size of sail the club has. I say surprise, because they do carry several larger boards that actually demand larger sails to do what they are designed to do…As a remedy I trimmed the sail less flat, reducing the boom’s length by 1 click. I completed my sailing on this tired equipment and upon paying, I pointed out that since I was not a novice and having asked for a freeride board (not a wave or a freestyle that are prone to maneuvers damages), under conditions so calm, by asking for an insurance coverage I was expecting to get mint condition equipment. The girl at the desk gave me an unprofessional reply, that I should have told them before getting in the water, as if it wasn’t them who handed me the board & sail.
Now that I’m back to my computer, I checked the Gecko 120 specs and verify my impression that the board I was given was fitted with a too small fin. The worn – out fin was 36, when the standard is 39…
My brief experience from Le Morne, is that if you do not have your own equipment, Mistral Club is the only realistic option, but check well what you will get to ride. Demand standard board fittings, otherwise you will get a wrong idea about the board you will ride!
If you wish to hit the waves, do it in company preferably with some locals and definitely not alone!
As shoes are a must, try to find some ankle-high, so that when stepping on the sand, no sand will get into your shoes. It is very annoying.
On the beach, stay away from the coconut trees, because falling cocos are dangerous. One fell less than a meter away from me, while I was taking the photos!
In the public beaches areas, you have the option of food & beverages at a fraction of the resorts prices. Unfortunately, they are not allowed to operate in the evening.
In Le Morne we had the company of some very cute feathered friends, like this one, who was posing for me at the Point beach.
Sunsets were spectacular, but I’m looking forward to sail in Paros again.
And a sentimental remark: When talking about a PRYDE club, I would expect to find arrays of Neil Pryde sails, rigged to rocket me away, while at a ºMISTRAL club, I would love to have the choice of the complete boards range of the historic brand, not to sail on a Fanatic board rigged with a North sail bearing the Mistral logo…