Flat water start. Where is the downwind?

It has been a great season start so far with many paddlers joining us for some downwind surfski in Tarifa.

The problem was that today the wind dropped down to zero and this didn't give us many options for surfing.

We decided, we were going to bet on one session in the Strait of Gibraltar in the afternoon and the plan was to set up the e-foil once again and take it for a spin to make sure everything is working well. Yasen took charge and he confirmed...yes! "Its is all good Dad"!

Will the wind turn up?

There is always a bit of pressure when we have paddlers travelling all the way from Australia, North America or different parts of Europe, all looking to experience and learn about downwind surfski.

The good thing about today was that the forecast showed 15-20 knots wind in the Strait of Gibraltar but still the conditions are never guaranteed.

We decided to meet at the classroom for a briefing at 15:30 h and then head to La Isla de las Palomas where we would lounge the surfskis and make our way to Getares, Algeciras.

The conditions were flat...and I was a bit worried. Will the wind pick up?

Playa Chica was too crowded and we had to take our surfskis to Isla de las Palomas and start from there.

Looking for the positives

When we get going I always try to look for positives we can achieve regardless of the conditions. In this case if the wind had picked up we would enjoy a nice downwind in the Strait (in my opinion this is the most beautiful downwind we have in Tarifa).

On the other hand if the wind didn't pick up then we could spend some time practicing the brace stroke and also learning the different land marks and experience the distance (23 - 24 km) so we are well prepared for the following two days in the Strait. The forecast looked much better for those two days.

Go time

The team was ready, four of us with one idea - to enjoy surfski paddling between the continents of Europe and Africa. We went into the water one by one because of the shallow rocks near the island and after a final check and OK we started paddling out to the South Cardinal Buoy in front of Tarifa.

The water was calm and the wind was slightly more offshore than usual...I had to keep believing that my estimations would turn correct and we would get nice downwind conditions 4-5 km further down in the direction toward Gibraltar.

This is approximately 2-3 km from Tarifa and the conditions were still very flat. No paddles down surfing and no Yeeehaaa!


As we approached the tower of Guadalmesi the wind gently started picking up speed. Then suddenly the direction changed from NW to W and then closer to SW. The waves picked up and we were surfing downwind with big smiles on our faces. Yeeehaaa!

The Strait had delivered again.

This is the favourite part of my job - seeing our paddlers enjoy the waves and the sun.

The conditions were on and the Strait of Gibraltar displayed its beauty once again.

The flow was great and it was also very nice to see how the things we have been learning in the last week had come together - catching and mounting the surfski on top of the wave crest, surfing left or right depending on the direction of the waves etc.

And of course one accidental remount to refresh the skills...hehe.

Here we are approaching Punta Carnero Lighthouse where the conditions were nice and steep, which allowed us to enjoy pure downwind surfing.

Once we rounded the lighthouse the water flattened again and now it was time to paddle approximately 2.5 km back to the beach at Getares. What a beautiful ride!

Big smiles after a great downwind experience in the Strait of Gibraltar

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