how to get there
Dial a Flight have great flight only deals. This summer (2004) you could fly from Gatwick to Fuerteventura with British Airways for £100. They also do charter flight bookings. (www.dialaflight.com Tel. 0870 333 4488)
If you are taking your own kit, Excel Airways has the best deal on excess baggage. You pre book and pay £40 per windsurfer. Even if your “windsurfer” is spread across 3 bags its still £40. BUT your bags will be weighed at Gatwick and if they are just half a kilo over 32kgs you will be asked to repack. (Try and weigh your kit beforehand or throw in a spare board bag)
Their flight costs are fairly reasonable as well. We flew with Excel Airways in June 2004 for £101 each. (www.excelairways.com Tel: 08709 98 98 98)
Monarch Airways also go to Fuerteventura and charge £60 per windsurfer. Flights cost between £150 and £250 depending on the time of year. (www.flymonarch.com Tel.0870 458 2861)
car & ferry
If you want to drive then you can travel from Portsmouth to Bilbao every Tues and Sat with P&O Ferries. The journey takes 32hrs. Tel. 08705 20 20 20
Then drive across Spain to Cadiz to get the 48hr ferry to Gran Canaria which in a van costs around £600. Then get an inter island ferry to Morro Jable on Fuerteventura which is only 20mins from Sotavento by car! If we haven’t put you off then check out
www.trasmediterranea.es for ferry details.
transfer from airport
Quite surprisingly, the hotels or centres don’t pick up guests from the airport for the hour and a half journey to Sotavento. However there are plenty of airport taxis or you can rent a car which you will need during the week if you are staying anywhere but the Sol Gorriones Hotel.
We booked an economy car at £99 for the week plus insurance through www.holidayautos.co.uk which is part of the Lastminute.com group. They assigned us a car from Hertz which we picked up at the airport.
Tip: if you are travelling with windsurf kit, don’t tell them and don’t load the kit on the car in view of the car hire desk. They don’t like windsurf kit on the roof and have been known to refuse to rent you the car. Also don’t order roof racks as this makes them suspicion! The Sportif package includes car rental.
Sportif have been sending clients to Sotavento for 23 years! They currently send 25 sailors every week. Their prices start from £477 staying at the 4 star Sol Gorriones for 7 nights, half board, flights AND car hire as there is no transfer available from the airport. (www.sportif-uk.com Tel. 01273 844919)
Planet Windsurf also go to the 4 star Sol Gorriones right on the beach. 2004 prices start from £415 for 7 nights including flights and half board. (www.planetwindsurf.com Tel. 0870 749 1959)
how the wind works
The island of Fuerteventura has a prevailing NE trade wind which is more consistent in the summer. This NE wind blows over the land between two mountain peaks at the narrowest part of the island. As it does this the wind backs giving a very localised, cross offshore breeze at Sotavento. Coupled with a sea breeze as the day heats up, the resort is consistently windy with most of July and August spent on a 4m or less.
But the wind is always cross off shore and therefore will ALWAYS be gusty.
Outside of summer the wind can also blow from the east and south which is generally onshore and is not as reliable.
You can get a real mixture at Sotavento even in one summer week. You can get up to head high waves from random Atlantic swell or if it’s been strong NE winds for a few days. Most of the time it is described as flat but this is rubbish!! It is choppy and during our week it was awful death chop, making gybing a bouncy experience with the only “flat” water a few feet from the shore line. However, during our week we had a lot of north in the wind, which made it more gusty and offshore.
Down the road at the Pro Center Rene-Egli II, there is a proper flat water lagoon but it is mainly used by beginners.
Outside of summer, the NE trade wind is less consistent although you can get a good week. You also get onshore winds producing “home from home” chop and mush conditions, but at least it will be warmer than the UK.
We went in June and you can sail in just your swimwear. But if it’s 4.5m weather and less it can get a bit chilly in a bikini. In the summer take a shortie, and at all other times take a 3mm/2mm summer suit.