(photos from Tony)


Well, I suppose it was inevitable. 6 of us are back from Tarifa and we would love to tell you how windy it was.


Except that it was probably more windy in N Ireland. You can imagine the scene, the 6 Amigos have driven through the night , arrived, got about 2 hours sleep and then the Hairy Alarm Clock aka Mr Wookie got us all out of the house (almost) before you could say fry that bacon to hit the water. So first day we scored some OK wind, but it really took 7.3m sails - and guess what good old Mr Mistral only had 2 of them. So we took it in turns, but didn't care - this is Tarifa and it always gets windy. Doesn't it?


Only thing was the next day there was less wind. Mind you the Hairy Alarm Clock still got us up and out because he saw a leaf move on a tree, so there must be wind, this is Tarifa isn't it... A little water ballet was done, including the same Wookie showing that you don't need wind to do 360s. We even resorted to kyacking (there is a good surf break there) and - tell it not in Goth - we took a kite lesson. It was so windless that even the kites couldn't fly. Just as well the way some people control them.


The highlight of the holiday came the next windless day. Even the Alarm Clock gave up. So we pointed our wagon at Gibraltar and went tourist. It's pretty odd to leave Spain (on foot) and then get a taxi across the main runway of the airport. Fortunately no planes were coming in, otherwise they might have landed on Andy by mistake. We paused only as long as it took Tony Egerton to realise that the duty free prices for the many gadgets on display were way high before taking the tourist taxi to the top of the rock. You can imagine the scene, Andy and Wookie looking so cool in their shades, Robbie looking - well how do you look in orange pants. And the monkeys came out and to our great joy one junior one climbed the Wookie. Cameras rolled, there it was, meet the family time. Until the Monkey peed on the Wookie (we think it was that way round). Have you ever seen William when he's angry? The monkey was bounced on its head, but it was too late - just wait until you see the photographs. Wooks was wearing a GAP top, now rechristened Great Ape Piss. I guess you just had to be there.


Spirits were low and hangovers were high, the Internet cafes revealed that the windless state was to remain all week. Early planes home were even contemplated. Then, the wind changed round - the Levante had arrived! By the next morning it was 6.5m metre weather and off we went. We actually got 2 days of reasonable wind, Andy and co took some boards to a nearby beach and scored 4.5m weather. Life was good. Last day of 7 we got OK wind again and had to fight over the 2 large sails.


I also have to report that on one of the sailing days a very large shot was heard - most of us thought that the lining around those never to be contemplated areas of Andy's wet suit had gone. But it turned out to be another broken mast by Mr Tease. He was about half a mile out and it was at this stage that we discovered that the Mistral centre had no rescue boat. It got damaged in November and they hadn't replaced it yet. So the manager went out to rescue Andy on a large board and a 5m sail. Reports of a tanker in danger of hitting the rocks circulated, but Andy came in a long time later.


The serious points from this are that :


            Tarifa is a very windy venue, but not guaranteed

If you are going early season check what gear they have, 2 sails over 6.9m is frankly pathetic

Always check the hire centre has proper rescue cover before you pay your money. Mistral are a large outfit with a good    reputation. It will be interesting to see how they react to the letter they're going to receive.

            Don't play with a monkey if you're wearing a GAP top


I haven't mentioned the nights of drunken debauchery, playful wrestling between so called professionals or even the many planing out carve gybes - the lawyers advised against it. Suffice to say we had a great time despite the company.


I hope you enjoyed hearing about it - especially when you had more wind than we did. Still, you should see our tans....


Alan Watts