Monday, August 27, 2018

Kefalos Freeride Heaven



My Greek summer 2018 was almost two months long. I've been on usual places (nothing special to report, but usual bliss :-) ), except for two weeks at the beginning of August when I decided to explore well-known windsurfing spot Kefalos on island Kos. It is a beautiful place, dedicated to windsurfers. If I have to describe it shortly, I would say it’s a freeride heaven.

Kefalos bay is on the south side of the island, some 15 minutes drive from the airport. The wind is mostly offshore. It’s some kind of combination of Meltemi and local thermal wind. From 14 days, I had 12 days of windsurfing. One of those missed days I spent on an excursion to Nysiros, a volcanic island near Kos. I did it because the forecast was quite bad wind wise. However, when I came back I was informed that the wind was perfect! Pity for me, but good for windsurfers: even when the forecast says no wind, you can nevertheless stay on the spot and windsurf!




For someone like me, used to strong winds of Karpathos, Kefalos is aquite gentle spot. I made a misjudgment in equipment and took with me 98lit slalom board and 7,0 slalom sail. The sail could be appropriate, but the board was most of the time too small. If I would go again, with a choice of one board and one sail, I would take 110-120 lit board and 7,8 sail. Just for comparison, I had some great sessions on 130 lit freerace board (Fanatic Blast) and 7,0 no cam freeride sail.


Windsurfing rental and storage

The whole bay is 2,5 km long, with sandy beach. Hotels, apartments, and taverns are right there, along the beach. There are few places where you can access the beach by the car (if you have your own equipment). For renting there are two centers. One is KEFALOS WINDSURFING CENTER. It is well equipped with Fanatic and Patrik boards, mostly freeride but all kind, actually. They are quite new, so you can choose whatever suits you best. Sails are abundant too, all Sailloft (German brand; don't confuse that with LoftSails - it is something quite different).




On the days without the wind, or in the morning, you can SUP or kayak. They have two hydrofoils, and one old tandem board, so you can try that too. Slalom equipment... well, there are some older boards (Fanatic, Patrik, and F2) and even older sails (again Sailloft), but I must say, if you can't bring your own, don't rent slalom - you will not be happy. Instead, relax and enjoy freeride.

The staff is very friendly, and the overall atmosphere is relaxed, so you can really enjoy the turquoise water and nice winds of Kefalos.



The second windsurfing center in Kefalos bay is Russian operated VETRATORIA with all RRD equipment (boards and sails). I like how they handle all-prevailing sand: there is a water shower in front of the Center. You wash the board and the sail, and all equipment is inside under the roof (that's unusual for a windsurfing center). The floor is clean and you have a feeling that you are in the windsurfing store, not the equipment storage for renting. Nicely done, Vetratoria.




Who is it for?

Almost everyone. It is not for you if you are high wind addicted fanatic. Otherwise, in Kefalos you can windsurf with all level of skills. Beginners have first 50 meters where the wind is light and you can make your first steps without too much trouble. Of course, rescue boat is in frequent use, but no worries: if the offshore wind takes you too far, they will come for you with the smile on their faces.




The same is valid for intermediates who can nicely practice planning, footstraps, and harness on the gentle breeze (13-17 kt) if they let themselves go for another 50 meters out. And then, even further offshore, you can find more constant and stronger wind, up to 20 kt. I was impressed with the space you have. In spite of high season (beginning of August), and quite a lot of people on the beach and actually windsurfing, I never had a feeling of being squeezed by others. Quite a contrary, the area in front of the harbor, where the wind is the strongest, is so big that mostly I had a feeling of being alone on the water.



And, if you want even more space, you can go even further out (some 300 meters or more from the shore). If you don't mind little chop and small waves you can have a blast for more than 5 km in one direction. All alone, if that's your thing.



Other pleasures of Kos

Oh, I must not forget: in the morning you can enjoy SUP yoga classes. Or, even better, you can enjoy watching SUP yoga classes. :-)



The beach is perfect for taking some sun, swimming in clear water, or reading a good book under a sun umbrella (you have to pay for it, but you don't have much choice because you will not find any shade on the beach).



Kitesurfing is forbidden in Kefalos bay, but there are plenty of north side beaches with Kite Centers. There, the wind is onshore and you can have some nice waves to enjoy.



The old town Kos is worth visiting (some 45 minutes’ drive from Kefalos). It has some Turkish influence in the architecture and overall feeling. The tourists are all over the place, but I liked the fact that there is 13 kilometers of bicycle tracks in the very city of Kos. By the way, the island is very nice for bicycle riding. A lot of small roads to explore, with the just right level of difficulty (not too extreme, not too easy).


Of course, I have to mention my gastro-hedonistic exploration of every Greek island I've been so far. Taverns on Kos are good, but they don't offer something special. You can have a good, decent meal in each one of them. So, the good news is that you cannot make a mistake. However, they lack the originality of taverns I came across on Crete, Naxos, Lefkas or Karpathos. They are more like fast food restaurants, and that was especially disappointing on island Nysiros, where I just could not find nothing greekish in those taverns. Burgers, French fries, and such staff. A pity.

However, one restaurant made up for all shortcomings. The name is "Platanos", located in the center of old town Kos, right beside the old plane tree (Platanus), where Hippocrates gave his lectures thousands of years ago.

Platanos offers a celebration for most delicate taste. It is an original Greek restaurant, but with the just right touch of originality and modernity. The flavors are amazing; the fusion of tastes explosive! We were eating there a couple of times, just to make sure that Platanos is highly on the list of my favorite Greek island restaurants! I highly recommend it.





Will I come again?

Probably. Kefalos offers a nice mixture of the reliable summer wind, easy relaxed feeling, here and there some high wind slalom and speed windsurfing, together with a chance to explore Greek island with exotic taste in it. If you want an easy holiday where you can really enjoy windsurfing and at the same time to bring your family or non-windsurfing friends with you or those who wish to learn or improve, Kefalos is the right choice.



Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Out in the Blue




If you only knew...
It is like a prayer.
A deep meditation,
and, oh, so much more...

If you only knew...
How it is out there
without a mask, without a shade
just now and everlasting here...

A daily ritual, abiding sacrifice
to vibrating, living peace...
The burden lost, the thoughts gone...
If you only knew...

If you only knew,
you would not miss it for a world!
You would be here,
with me,
right now...
out in the Blue.


Monday, July 9, 2018

Silence in the Wind




Karpathos is practically my homespot for windsurfing, since I am there every summer, without much chance to windsurfing during the rest of the year. And that is, by the way, the reason I somehow put my soulwindsurf web reports on hold. But I didn't stop windsurfing. No way.

On beautiful windy Sunday, 8th July 2018, the weather forecast was not promising, announcing some 13-16 knots of wind. On the spot, however, it was more like +30 knots! After a nice breakfast I was in a hurry to start dancing with the wind, but while taking some staff out of the suitcase, I saw my helmet camera and the thought came - why not!

This is a 5 minutes unedited recording of one round "from here to there and back". Seemingly, there is nothing special on that recording - just some nice easy sailing from starting point in Devil's bay, over the reef and on, to the next bay without a name. I like the gentle sound of the wind in my ears, the turquoise shining of the see, and the sound board makes while accelerating over the small waves. It is a recording of the moment of silence I found out there, thinking nothing, just being, enjoying, celebrating, living...

***

However, just a note to few of my advancing windsurfing friends who asked me for some details of windsurfing in Devils bay, much has happened during this couple of minutes. For example, going upwind I had to clear the way for one windsurfer sailing back (1:40). He was on the starboard course (right hand first), and I had to slow down a little bit and head downwind to avoid collision. After he passes, I continue upwind. At the end point of the route, I just stepped down from the board. It is quite hard to gybe with 6,3 and 80 lit slalom/speed board, so I took a little rest while in the water, before water starting again.

On the way back I went through rather narrow passage between two rocks on the reef (4:30). The passage is 1,5 meter wide, water is shallow - 40 cm. But if you are careful, with smaller fin this can be done. The advantage of this somewhat risky action is that you can enter the area after the reef with more speed, and more upwind. Namely, that area is almost completely silent; no wind, just with occasional strong gust. If you find yourself there on a very small board, not going fast enough, you will be in trouble.

Anyway, I passed that area and started the speed run (5:10). Btw, max speed was 37,65 kt. However, if you are speeding on Karpathos you have to be very careful with the rest of windsurfing people. In the last part of recording, at the very end of speed run, you can see one windsurfer crossing my speed path, and than gybing back. It does not seem like a dangerous situation, but it was dangerous! Namely, it is not easy to change the course of the board at such speed. And you have to know that the right of passage in this situation is not with speedsurfers, coming fast downwind, but with regular windsurfer, being first downwind from speedsurfer, and then, after finishing the gybe, coming from the right side. So, it is on speedsurfer to clear the path, if (s)he can, of course. So, be careful while doing this.

If you watch the recording again, you will see that I had to first gybe left to avoid the crash, and than turn sharp right to safely return to starting point.