Windsurfing experience in Morocco by Sarah-Quita and Palì Gueltro
In last week of March and first week of April we were honored to welcome in our place Sara Quita 14× world champion, Antoine Martin the winer of the IWT Morocco 2018, Nicole Bandini, Tom Juban, Lina Erpenstein, Greta Benvenuti, Antoine Albert, Adam and many other champions.
Have a read here about Sara quita and Pali talking about their trip in Morocco:
“This event was an unexpected one since it was confirmed last minute. I’ve always wanted to go to Morocco and this was the perfect reason to pack my bags and head out to the Far East! ( Wait.. or should I say, the close West?) Before I knew it my tickets were booked and I was on my way to Amsterdam to catch my connecting flight to Marrakech. Off on a new adventure SQ!
As I arrived in Marrakech and caught my 3-hour transfer to Essaouira I immediately got a taste of the Moroccan culture. I’m pretty used to lugging my bags around but my driver insisted on carrying my board bags and it was really quite entertaining to see him and 4 other men struggle to get my bags through narrow passages (something I normally do in seconds). But hey, I wasn’t going to complain!
Halfway to Essaouira my driver made a stop to get some food.
Thank goodness! I was about to pass out. When I saw where we stopped I actually almost did. Whole cow legs and cow body parts were hanging from the restaurant ceiling for us to choose from. You should know, I’m not the biggest meat eater. Lawd have mercy. I was shocked.
Could we get a sandwich, or go to another restaurant I asked.
“Non, non, c’est bien ici” Okay, I guess not then….
The hunger pangs kicked in and I gave in. The Köfte was actually great!
Finally we had some tea. I’m not entirely sure, but it seemed the tea/sugar ratio was off when my driver added a block of sugar about half the size of the teapot.
That’s why it was so good! And then like a concert pianist he elegantly raised the teapot as high as possible and lowered it while filling our teacups. I learned later that week that pouring tea from high up creates the mousse (foam) and only then will the tea have been served correctly. Coincidentally, that week, I learned that I can get just as lit off of tea as I do off of coffee.
The next day I woke up in a quiet town called Moulay, the home spot of Boujmaa Guilloul. He was hosting the first ever women’s only wave event. Something I’m really excited to have been a part of. I was well excited for this event because it would be starboard tack instead of the usual port tack. Yeah buddy! Let’s do this!
I arrived about one week before the event and was able to train in all sorts of conditions. From mega windy and jumping, to light wind and riding only. It was great! Before our women’s only event the IWT was running. I stayed at the house of Abderazaq and as the events got closer more people started pouring in. Next thing I know we’re having tagine and couscous with 15 people. It was an international affair with Italians, Frenchies, Germans, Swedes (Gustav and Gustav) and the one Aruban. We dubbed our house the “house of champions”.
It was fun to come home and hear everyone’s stories and results!
Huge shoutout to Antoine Martin for winning the IWT Pro division.
It was I N C R E D I B L E to watch Antoine, Takara ishi, Morgan Noireaux and Boujmaa, perform.
Before the contest I spent one day with Lena Erdil getting lost in the streets of Essaouira. Coming from the Caribbean, Morocco is as exotic as it gets for me!
It was just like the movie Aladdin! Cobblestone streets, secret alleys, food stands, leather everywhere, super colorful rugs and carpets hanging outside of the shops and just very friendly people.
Oh, and the smell of spices! They’re great while on the market. Not so much in my room.
It took me 3 days to figure out that the light-fart smell I was dealing with in my room was the Ras-el-Hanout, Curry and Tajin spices I bought on the market earlier hahaha.
The forecast changed all the time and it looked like there was a depression nearby that would create some massive swell on that Wednesday during our contest. The head judge made it a point to get the first elimination done before “big Wednesday hit”.
Moulay is known to be windy so it would have been great to have 2 waves and a jump to count but it was too light so ultimately only wave rides counted.
Secretly that’s what I wanted anyway, because I really want to improve in that aspect. I just don’t have any patience! When the wind is light you don’t move around so quickly so you need to be picky with the waves.
I was on my 5,0 Combat and my 86L Kevin Pritchard model Ultrakode.
In my first heat I tell myself to be patient but then immediately start pumping for the first “bump” I see, and rip a hip-high wave to pieces. When I float back out I see the other girls in my heat on over head high set waves hahaha. Oh man. I did it again. Patience SQ!! I didn’t catch the best waves in my first heat but I rode them the best I could so I advanced to the next round.
For the next rounds I got into the groove of things and really did my best to be patient. Finally I advanced to the winners final alongside Iballa and Daida Moreno and Lina Erpenstein. The conditions were only getting better and this was the most fun heat of the day! The wind turned more side shore, got stronger and the waves were cleaner. This was 30 minutes of pure joy. Only 4 girls on the water and we were actually cheering each other on. This was definitely my best heat and coming off the water I was just happy to have made it to the final.
After some issues with the live scoring they finally announced the results and I finished in second, after Iballa Moreno. Ayee! I always aim for a podium finish. Especially in waves, every time I make a podium it’s a huge motivation, so second is insane for me!
Big Wednesday was even bigger than expected. Double mast high giants. Close to 8 meters we calculated. I have seen jaws break a couple of times in Maui, although smaller here, these waves gave me more goose bumps. There was whitewater everywhere, no channel and thus, absolutely no escape. The contest was called off for the day. We did go out for a sail on the inside, but once near the impact zone I realized the white water alone was mast high.. uff… better not go too far. Boujmaa managed to get out and tame those waves though and that was really inspiring to watch.
For the remainder of the week it was all about the mousse as we watched massive waves roll in with whitewater as far as the eye could see. All that was left to do was perfect our tea pouring skills and achieve the right amount of mousse.
Ultimately we only had one day of competition. The wind dropped, and the swell was absolutely massive for days in a row. I would have loved to sail the double elimination but that’s just the way it goes during contests some times.
For now I’m really satisfied with my 2nd place, but fired up to do even better.
There were so many highlights during this trip, and all I can say is Chokran Morocco for the whole cultural experience from beginning to end!
I hope to be back very soon.
For now, I’ll be spending some time in Aruba before making my way to my next contest in Portugal where I’ll be competing in freestyle and slalom.
Get some behind the scenes story in the clip below”
“What better occasion can a passionate weekend soul windsurfer have, to celebrate the 40 years of practice of this wonderful sport and the 55th painful birthday, if not give yourself a surf trip on the Atlantic Ocean and the first contest on the waves of its history ?
For a few years now, my liquid dreams with open eyes and my relaxing “office” readings, were concentrated on the IWT: the International Windsurfing Tour, an amateur and professional circuit, which organizes windsurfing competitions on the waves in the best spots of the world with the best conditions for the fabulous wave sailing discipline: Morocco, California, Barbados, Mexico, Peru, Chile and, last but not least, Hawaii in the well-known mecca of this sport, the infamous Ho’okipa beach on the island of Maui.
My birthday fell just in coincidence of the first stage 2018 in Morocco, and coincidentally at the stroke of the 55th year I would be joined in the Jurassic category of Grand Masters: if only for the small number and age of the participants ( many over 60), I had the illusion of having some chance to do well (the typical Sunday surfer tends to overestimate his level ..!!).
Strange ghosts and negative thoughts piled up in my mind emphasizing the typical midlife crisis of the over-fifties with Peter Pan syndrome … the awareness of having lost the enamel of a time that was, the power and reactivity that this sport requires now weakened by overweight kilos and dizzying muscle tone, the anxiety to feel the best years behind the shoulders and to consider every Adriatic storm as the last …. so a little voice kept telling me the same phrase: either NOW or NEVER !!!
Fortunately, these bad feelings have had the opposite result, an impulse of positivity, acting as a spring for an inner turn, a push to get back into shape, giving myself a medium-term goal for the end of winter and engage in physical and mental training necessary to face a challenge, first of all with oneself, emotionally and physically so demanding, but with a deep and true soul satisfaction.
Throughout the winter a lot of Yoga, running, diet and a bit of work with the weights have marked the passage of the grays months between a cold storm and the other, and for the first time in my life I had a nice target to perceive, that gave me the strength to face the boring workouts and long trips with rain and cold to go out at sea with often inconsistent conditions with small waves, marginal or too strong wind and the classic adriatic on shore “center tack” conditions !!.
The media promotion of the International Windsurfing Tour, whose motto is to give “an opportunity for everyone to test their skills and inspire the future of our sport”, is very effective and engaging, with a wise use of all social media for give announcements, detailed reports and results of the competitions organized by photographs and video montages of excellent professional level.
From September 2017 the calendar of competitions for the new year began to take shape and as soon as the organizing committee set the dates, I took the decision and tried to involve with little success the group of my companions of all time, Marcello, Giuliano, Marchino and Milco gave me the same evasive answer: … booohh, maaa, siii, let’s see … ..
I booked alone, with five months in advance, finding a very advantageous rate for Marrakech round trip, and at that point my adventure in Morocco had already begun! With great pleasure then one after the other the friends of a thousand releases decided to book, joining the trip: we would live directly on the spot of Moulay Bouzerktoun, in a surf house run by the local mitical waterman Abderazaq Elabdi and his wonderful family.
Arrived on the spot, I discover with pleasure, to share the house with other surfers, including many professionals and immediately we create a family atmosphere during breakfast on the terrace overlooking the ocean and pushing each other to better perform in the water and the gargantuan dinners in the Moroccan house based on Cous Cous, Tajine with vegetables, meat or fish and fresh fruit. The brotherhood that this sport knows how to create is unique, and having practiced other sports I think it is not found in any other situation: a communion of feelings, interests and views that make you feel always at ease, even if you hare twice or triple years old of your adventure companions.
For the record, the competitions, organized in a very professional manner, started immediately with the categories Youth, Grand Masters and Amateurs (non-professionals of all ages), taking advantage of the “normal” marine weather conditions, while waiting for entry of a great storm for the end of the week, which would have allowed to play the finals of the category of professionals men and women in epic conditions with strong wind and waves of more than 5 meters.
My category, immediately renamed Grand Fathers , saw the participation of four other athletes: Scott from Hawaii, Colby Deer from USA, Sven Zedlick from Germany and Chris Pow from UK, all more or less veterans of the IWT, with whom it was created immediately a deep and sincere friendship animated by the great passion for this sport and fueled by a healthy sporting rivalry: we have always remained united both before and after the heats in the water and in the various convivial moments and parties that the organization had prepared. After two heats, I was on equal points with the charismatic Scott Shoemaker, old fox of Maui, with the classic Windsurfer logo on the sail, a sort of very thin guru, more than one meter and ninety tall, which has the peculiarity of being the the only windsurfer in Hawaii to have been bitten by a shark in the history of this sport: proudly showing his scars in his leg, pulling his pants down during the evening parties between one drink and the other, telling more and more colorful anecdotes among general laugh. In the final heat his experience on the waves got the better, beating me in the average of the judges, counting only the two best waves, and yet already with that result I seemed to touch the sky with a finger.
I also participated in the Amateurs competition, not professionals of any age, coming in the middle of the standings and missing the semi-final of the first 8 by a whisker.
Unfortunately, due to a triple fracture to the ribs my surfing holiday, ended early: no problem… I would have concentrated, with a deep sense of contentment and inner peace, on enjoying as a spectator the following days that were truly mythical: the final of professionals, carried out in epic conditions with over mast high waves saw the consecration and the first victory of the rising caribbean star Antoin Martin, known as Titoun, from Guadeloupe, which has surpassed two legendary figures of this sport: the French Maui resident , Morgan Noireaux (winner of the last 2 Aloha Classic) and the very strong local moroccan Boujimaa Guilloul, perhaps the most spectacular in the water with double fowards, backloop and high aerial but a little less consistent on closing the maneuvers. This local boy, a true legend both in and out of the water, now assumed as an icon and testimonial of all the moroccan sport, managed with his deeds to bring Africa to the glories of sports news , thanks to the images of the next BIG WEDNESDAY that have been runned around the world, when unique among all the professionals he went out to surf the outside Moulay with double mast wave heights (8 meters !!!).
Chatting with Duncan Comb, PWA’s head judge, I was intrigued by the work of the judges looking at the scores of the ratings, both during my heats and the pro ones, and he kindly invited me to join at the side of the international jury as Shadow Judge during the PWA of women (literally “shadow judge” means whose judgment is not part of the assessment average) to gain experience: I assure you that after 3 hours under the sun very concentrated in annotating my evaluations and following the evolutions of the professionals I was more tired than after a whole day to surf !! It was another great sport experience, even if carried out without the pressure and the responsibility determined by influencing with my own scorecards on the progress of the race, especially during the debriefing with the chief judge who analyzed my votes with critical observation and giving me valuable advice on how to evaluate the evolution on the waves and jumps, (thanks Duncan for the great opportunity!!).
To conclude, I would like to highlight some basic things: the first is to give credit to the large team of watermen from Romagna-Italy I proudly belong to: NUCLEOVENTONDA, whose strength of passion and motivation has multiplied the desire to go out to sea and sold true friendships .
The second is to encourage everyone to take part in the International Windsurfing Tour, whose “family friendly” spirit is reminiscent of the Windsurfer One Design regattas that I attended in the early 80s also on an international level, where beyond the soft competitive aspect dominates the more convivial and friendly side with parties and excellent organization (thanks to the Hawaiian tour manager, Sam Bittner!!).
In addition, the fact that the stage takes place in a spot like Moulay Bouzerktoun that I have been dating for years and personally consider it the number 1 in the world among those I visited because it is really easy, not dangerous even if it gets big, and offers side or side-off conditions for living liquid dreams almost every day; not to mention the delicious local food and the cultural aspects that the city of Essauira, the music, the architecture, the landscapes and the locals offers.
I would like to thank the human support of Cesare Cantagalli (I-99 boards) and Andrea Cucchi (Point.7 sails) for the compliments received and to continue to believe in windsurfing by producing Italian boards and sails of the highest level and winners all over the world, and last but not least, my sponsors www.pglandshapes.com and WINDCAM for material and moral help.
Ciao A tutti