The Story of Tenerife 2007

 Medano beach bar



Sometimes you just know that, no matter how hard you try, it's just not going to be your day. So it appeared with this year's windsurfing holiday to Tenerife. Even before we'd left for the airport we'd had -


1 guy off the water for 18 months with a broken knee (snowboarding)

1 withdrawal with a broken foot (Ballyholme, but not related to the brown stuff in the water)

Our carefully laid plans to have Jim Collis coach us scrapped (see below)

1 other person withdrawing for complicated reasons which included the lack of an instructor


With a start like that, you might think we'd have been better to pack up and head home before we left. But no, 18 people assembled rather bleary eyed at Dublin airport far too early in the morning. If we didn't know what we were in for, it quickly became apparent as a large part of the group had already started drinking beer - at 4 AM. Actually they'd started much earlier as we understand the back of Jarleth's van was converted into a sort of mobile bar for the journey down.


Jarleth cool tea


Last year (in Pras) transport was 2 minibuses - rather cramped by the amount of gear that Andy brought with him. Colin still has the scars from the board bag on the way there. So this year it was pure luxury, an air-conditioned coach, capable of seating 30 whisked us to El Medano. The dream soon broke down as we realised that our driver, who spoke no English, didn't know where we were going. It took some phone calls and much hand gesturing before we finally made it to our apartments - 50 yards from the hire centre and right on the shore! The apartments (we took 5 of them) were good, modern and excellently situated - however lack of air-conditioning was an issue.


Medano beach from the OTC

El Medano we found was a great place for windsurfing (and kite surfing) and it's very family friendly. There is a large main bay with a fairly constant cross on (NE) wind and some good swells. Up wind is a harbour area which produces waves at certain tides. There are 2 other bays, but these were difficult to access. The flat beginners bay especially will greatly increase the breadth of appeal for families once it is opened up. The issue here is that the OTC (Official Training Centre) haven't yet got their full plans in place and so don't support this bay yet - despite what their website might say. To be fair they are battling with a lot of Spanish bureaucracy and they're still in their first year of operation - so the container and van will appear in the future. This was one of a number of issues we had with the OTC, more on this later, but these didn't stop them providing a first class service to our group.


As I say, it's a great location for a holiday - with or without families. Unlike Pras, there is plenty to do. The whole bay is lined with restaurants, shops and even a piazza which sometimes had entertainment laid on. It's a place where the Spanish go to holiday, very few Brits and consequently far fewer of the best of British beer, fish and chips establishments. The Spanish certainly love their beaches, from dawn to dusk and well beyond they'll be on the sand (dark, volcanic) playing games and just enjoying themselves. And of course tops are very optional in Spain too - although fortunately Guy mostly did wear his.


Guy with spoeedo underneath



Look where you're going Guy ie down


The wind however was a major issue for us. We picked a week at the end of August in order to distance ourselves from our family holidays in July, but still catch good winds. We were unlucky. The day we arrived we got 7-7.5m wind - the very early start was almost made worth it by being on the water by lunch time. But the next 3 days saw less and less wind, really just afternoon thermals. Cue much muttering in the ranks. Some people just got on with it and worked hard at the water ballet. Tacks were sorted, non planing gybes, clew first water starts and front to sail sailing. Others just took the hump and retired to the bars - of which there were many.


Bill, one of the Newcastle regulars, surprised us all by turning up at the airport with his kite. Ryanair have a strict 15 kg baggage policy - even if you pay for extra bags, you are still limited to 15 in total, as they try to make some extra cash out of you. So Bill, with his kite, had room for almost nothing else. We got used to seeing him in his one outfit and those sleeping with him said he didn't smell too bad. But clever old Bill was out every day on his kite. When the wind got up he simply moved to windsurfing. A number of us saw this and there is now serious talk of some of us taking lessons so that we need never be stuck on the beach in light winds again. Look out for smelly kiters on Strangford before too long.


Raptor surfs

Another light wind alternative that a big group of us tried was diving. The OTC were very helpful in this, as in many other things, and put Paddy on to a diving school. So on the Sunday 7 of us, 4 qualified divers and 3 virgins were picked up and driven to a nearby village. The diving was very good (www.tenerifescuba.com) in lovely clear water. Wookie, Nigel and I had a relaxed dive to 22m seeing barracuda, a small shark (Wookie was delighted) and in my case bleeding green blood after touching a sea urchin. Paddy however was as manic under the water as he is above it. Normally on dry land he tends to talk at a great rate of knots about whatever he is excited about - which is generally a lot. It seems that under water, where even he can't talk, it comes out in other ways. He raced from one rock to another, tickling fish until strange fluids came out of them (don't ask), banging rocks and generally stirring things up. The try-divers obviously had a much shallower dive but it will be one of our lasting memories - seeing Richard and Ally Todd holding hands as they were led along the seabed. And of course, the dive centre being good judges of character, gave Guy a pair of bright pink fins to wear. Even on the boat we could clearly follow his progress as he minced along beneath us - no doubt followed by a bunch of gay fish.

Actually that day turned into a cracker as the wind picked up about 3pm, just as the divers and assorted fish-worriers got back. 6m or there abouts and lots of healthy swell rounded off a very good day.

For those of you who don't know, I should explain the concept of the OTC. Most hire centres major on 1 or 2 brands. They get a good deal since they tend to order 50 boards at a time and also they set the kit up for you and that's that. Sails especially are often set on the down haul that they think is right and they get upset if you change it. The OTC is very different - they have most makes of boards. We used JP, Fanatic, Hifly, Mistral, RRD, Starboard, D'lite, F2 and Goya! And they had every type of sail you could think of too. They were very careful to rig them on the right, very high carbon masts and they positively encouraged you to play with the settings. They rigged up for you and frankly they were very good at it. Andy had a couple of moans about a sail (Ezzy) which clearly didn't have enough downhaul, but changing it was very quick. So the whole idea was to try everything. You could swap from 1 board to another very quickly and try them all out. If you are thinking of buying some kit, then going to the OTC for an extended trial first makes a lot of sense. There were some predictable favourites (RRDs, JPs) and some which were generally hated - Tabou, F2 Stoke, Carve 111, Combat 97 and the Mistral Screamer (the one with the hydrofoil under the front). Unfortunately the wind didn't let us try the smaller boards and especially the wave boards.


As a concept it works well, aided a lot by excellent staff who made some great calls on what to go out on. Naturally there are still some teething troubles, we found they had less fins than we might like (remember they have to stock all fin box types) and they were short of the bigger free style waves. But generally they got it right and where they haven't, they're working to fix things (more FSWs are on order for example). There is a down side of this system - the hire costs are dearer than most places (£180 for a week) and we found their damage policy put a bit of pressure on people. Basically they inspected all kit in minute detail when you came in and charged you for even quite small damage. OK, they only charge cost (E30 per ding seemed normal) and in fact only 5 of us had to pay anything. But some people felt it put pressure on them which they didn't like on a holiday.

As long as you know the system before you start, you're probably going to be OK. But poor old Alex Cole did a nose job and a sail panel and was stung for E160. Hopefully his insurance will cover some of it.

The last couple of days saw 6-7m weather, mostly coming in from about noon. With good big swells, it was just what most of us wanted - blasting, jumping and practising gybes and tacks on non flat water. All that in board shorts and a rash vest.


So what did people get up to (that I can write about)?


Alex (Raptor) was able to plane at will in any wind - and then break out various star trek moves. He went out a lot with his Raptor cam - that's a water proof video camera which fits onto his helmet - it makes it look like's he's got a tap on his head. The result was some excellent footage of many of us on the water - although it also seemed to feature a lot of topless woman - remember, it films whatever Raptor was looking at.


Kit picture ruined by passer by


Actually as a bonus we have unearthed two really early videos from El Medano - what would now be called Go Pro videos. But of course Go Pro hadn't been invented yet.

Raptor's first head cam

And here's a really wobbly one where clearly Raptors neck had gone loose.

Wobbly headcam by Raptor


Wookie took the lack of wind in his stride and used the low wind days to go out and do water ballet. When there was wind he was often out on around 6m, burning at his usual speed, telling various German kiters where to stick their boards and of course going for loops. He got quite a few, in difficult conditions (the angle of the usual swell to the wind wasn't right) but also got a stiff neck for his troubles. However help was at hand as the ever useful Mr Yeates was often to be seen administering massage on the beach. And when he wasn't massaging various good looking women, he also gave Wookie a good going over. Wookie was generally chilled in the evenings, but does like his cocktails, so he wasn't amused when one place tried to overcharge us. We still don't think that barmaid knows how lucky she was, or how near she came to being lasered by those staring Wookie eyes...


Colin Kelly was the unluckiest sailor, after the first day he came down with the flu and only managed an occasional brief foray after that. Stoically he sat in the bar videoing anything that moved or wobbled - both on and off the water. We missed his bright orange rash vest to remind us of home.

The Wookie and the Lawyer


We're thinking of changing Ali Todd's nickname from Tourettes as he almost made it through the week without swearing. However the strain proved too much for him and he made up for lost time in the last few days. Even more so when he managed to lose his harness - he's not sure if he left it in a bar or on the path outside the apartment. On the water he had a good time, again making use of the light winds and charging around in the better ones. His carving tacks are immaculate.

I suppose you can't go to Spain without someone having a jippy tummy and this person was Pat. We knew there was something wrong when his apartment ran out of toilet roll on the first day. This continued right through (literally) until the poor man was raw. Fortunately Richard stepped up to the mark (again literally) and applied the stuff you normally use when changing babies' nappies. We believe Pat is OK now, but are wondering if he'll move from a waist harness to a nappy harness? And just where did Richard get so knowledgeable about baby's nappies?


NI's finest - firemen on 'duty'


Tim is often accused of not being on the water enough - the lure of Tesco being too great. Well he proved us wrong on this trip, getting out there with the best of them, high and low wind and acting like, well, a windsurfer! He also managed to burn the soles off his booties - not quite because he was windsurfing so much, but because he went to 'go snorkling' in the other bay (ie the one with all the nudists) and found he had to walk a mile on hot rocks. The result was holey boots and big red sores on his own feet. And was it worth it? Well, this depends on your view of large hairy Germans - but Tim seemed to think so... remind me not to shop in whichever Tesco store he usually uses.



Richard tried out a lot of different boards, often ending up on something very fast. He shot about, gybed and jumped - now if he'd only start the carving tacks he's have the full set.


Big Robert bemoaned the lack of wind. At home of course he only has small kit and he likened it to going back a stage in his windsurfing. Backwards or not, when he sailed he did so excellently - why just carve gybe on the outside when you can duck gybe a 7m sail on the outside at will? We can only wonder what he might have done in say a force 7. Robert also kept up well on the partying side. The only thing that worried us is that he seemed to have an endless supply of the same check shirt - each day and night he was out there in one of them. Indeed so similar were they that they even had the same stains in the same places on them.


Windsurfing through swimmers


JJarleth was another who really wanted the good winds. He made the best of it when the winds picked up, but they never reached what he'd hoped for. Undeterred he threw himself into the evening work to great effect and amazing consistency - right through to almost the moment when the bus left for home.

The third of the high wind sailors was John Adrain. Although equally disappointed not to get what he'd hope for, he just quietly got on with it and sailed.


Medano beach bums and bar

This wasn't Andy's most successful holiday. After the first day, he hardly sailed - often appearing late and then muttering 'pants' a lot. When he did go out, he seemed to be very unlucky with this choice of kit and often didn't have the sort of good sail we expect to see from him. However he picked himself up and is now talking about going back to Medano in September with his girlfriend to windsurf - I mean he's going with Susan, but it's Andy who'll do the windsurfing (allegedly). Andy did leave his mark on the place - having demolished a wall at the apartment. OK, it was a small wall on a flowerbed and he was only standing on it at the time - but the owner wasn't amused. Indeed it nearly became necessary to threaten his parrot.



After last year, we were very worried that Guy might produce those Speedos again. When he appeared at Dublin in shorts (drinking beer), we got more worried. However we were spared the worst excesses of his amazing body as the offending objects were mostly kept below his (slightly better) board shorts. As the wind died so too did Guy - as his nights got longer and so too did his next day recovery period. His high point came one night when he came in very late and bounced off the walls a few times before relieving himself against the fridge.... But he then staged a recovery and started windsurfing fiercely. Each day he went out longer and longer and of course windsurfed better and better. By the end he was rocketing round and down the carves on the large swells on the outside - only his screams of terror giving the game away. By the way, Guy's nick name is now officially Zanussi.

Nigel has now acquired the name Fanta Pants. The reason of course is the combination of his ginger hair and his board shorts - the mixture providing the full branding colours of Fanta. Despite this, Nigel had a good trip. Especially once the wind appeared, he was blasting around and jumping like an orange rocket. And he was getting some lovely gybes too. It would be unfair to mention that Nigel was the one who went out too far and got caught round the point in the rip - so naturally I will. One of the OTC sailed out and swapped kit with him and got him back - but we all got a good talking to about this.


For myself I've been working on tacks, so worked hard during the light wind sessions. The result was some good carving tacks - very useful if you came into a crowd of sails and could chose to tack or gybe to get out of the crowd. I loved gybing on the outside swells too. Definitely smugcon 4 for me.

Alex Cole was sailing well, but had the misfortune to take a nose off a board and then to have his sail blow onto a fin on the beach. This put a bit of a blight on his week it has to be said. However this was partly made up for when he needed to contact home for extra funds for this - resulting in a rather irate mother ringing the OTC and giving them a piece of her mind on the subject of kit hire companies and their insurance cover!


We were very pleased that Ashley Piele was able to join us. He's now a dentist in Wales, but was able to make his own flights and join us.


Alan Yeates added his usual laconic view on life. We enjoyed his humour nearly as much as his omelettes and his dish washing. He sailed well, although he claims he didn't always pick the right kit. And for once he kept his Speedos to himself. I also have to mention that history repeated itself - he did forget his sunglasses again and he did use teabags on his eyes instead. Again.




I said earlier that we had a few issues with the OTC. The main one before we even started the holiday was over training. In simple terms, right now the OTC are unable to offer any training. There is a license issued which allows another hire centre to provide training on the bay and we were going to use this for Jim Collis. But 2 weeks before we were due, this arrangement came unstuck as Jim was training another group. It appears that one of  the local kite centres has a grudge - and some friends in high places. This nice person whose parents were probably not married at the time of his birth, put in an official complaint which could have seen the OTC shut. Actually he did manage to shut them (on another pretext) in April for a week - so he's not just a lot of hot air. Now we've had the full situation explained to us, we are very sympathetic to the OTC. They have to work with local rules and organisations and clearly it isn't easy.


For similar reasons, they do not have a rescue boat (yet) and are not operating in the other bays - despite what their website says. But they are a young organisation with some great ideas - so we would expect them to get all of this sorted out. If you are thinking of going there, we'd recommend checking up on both rescue cover and training (if that's important to you). We certainly want to go back (earlier in August to get the wind), but only if these issues are sorted out. And when they are, it's going to be a great location to have your family and still enjoy windsurfing. We ate out in many of the restaurants - pizza, Japanese, Tapas, steak - you name it, we ate (and drank) it and it was generally all very good food and reasonably priced.

They say that Windguru is particularly accurate for Medano, so one option might be to go out for a long weekend in the Winter on a forecast. Could be a plan...


So that's it for another year. We've got the Jim Collis wave clinic in October - all those swells in Medano should have set us up well for this. Then after that we'll look at next year. If you've any comments on possible locations or timing, just let us know. The thought of going back to Medano a little earlier to ensure better wind is tempting.


But for now, it's back to Newtownards - and the forecast for Saturday is windy!