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The Sultanate Of Oman – Into The Desert

Those searching for wind and waves in the summer no doubt have a few favourite spots; from the Canaries to Moulay and more, these usual spots have become favourites because of their consistency when the wind starts to falter across much of Europe.

Here a group of French friends, including Antoine ‘Titoun’ Martin and Camille Juban (from Guadeloupe), journey to the Sultanate of Oman in search of new waves and strong winds amidst the desert. What they find could be a new, yet rather different, windsurfing favourite.

OMAN INFO

CULTURE:

Oman is a traditional Muslim country. The hospitality of the Omanis is remarkable and it is sometimes impossible to pay, so it is common to receive presents. It is respectful for women to follow the traditions and dress appropriately.

MONEY:

Oman Rial £1 = 0.6 OMR

FLIGHT:

From Paris to Muscat with Oman Air takes 6 hours, with a transfer in Doha. Price £300 to £600.

VISA:

You need a visa but you buy it in the airport, the price depends on how many days you stay in Oman. For 10 days it’s around 30 OMR.

CAPITAL:

Muscat

RESTAURANTS:

There are many restaurants in Hilff but we recommend the Turkish or Indian food. The prices arevery reasonable, around 10-20 OMR.

S P O T G U I D E

WIND:

Between 20 and 40 knots. The best time is the summer period (from May to September), when a southwest wind blows almost every day before the monsoon season.

WAVES:

Coming from the Samalian open sea, the long south swell regularly produces waves between one and three metres.

SPOTS:

Airport base: 20°38’37.85”N/ 58°54’17.50”E

Starboard tack waves, with quite strong side off shore winds. Short waves but enough power to get fun surfing.

Camille Juban - Windsurfing in the Sultanate of Oman
Camille Juban
Antoine Martin - Windsurfing in the Sultanate of Oman
Antoine Martin

JULY 2014 PART 1

MASIRAH ISLAND – MAKING TRACKS

Regis and I leave 10 days earlier to take in the sights of Oman; the others riders will join us later. After a day on the road from Muscat though the desert we arrive in Shana, the stopping point for the ferry to Masirh island. It feels extremely damp and the atmosphere is foggy, but we appreciate the mild temperature after the heat we had just been through. With the ferry there is no strict timetable, it will just leave when it is full; we can only guess when we will return.

We arrive at night into Hilf, the main and nearly only city; the atmosphere is electric. The streets are crowded, mainly with men. This is typical during Ramadan, deserted by day, festive by night.

Regis and I inspect the whole coastline to best prepare for the arrival of our guests, we have to at least twice a day… what a difficult job!

The island has around ten spots for all levels and can satisfy all different riders: freeride, freestyle and port and starboard tack waves. The wind is generally strong…very strong. At G-Spot, a jumping spot, it is not uncommon for a good 40knot wind to blow through. We quickly regret not bringing our 4m sails!

After a big week of searching out spots we are ready to welcome our guests, but we’re already tired after sailing all of the time!

Camille Juban - Windsurfing in the Sultanate of Oman
Camille Juban

PART 2 MASIRAH ISLAND – THE TEAM

The rest of the team arrive and we pick them up from the ferry. Ali, a local fisherman, was kind enough to pick them up from Muscat with their stuff. The guys are really happy and clearly the darlings of the ferry. I think Camille is the most successful; they’re going to hire him for sure!

There is no time to waste so we go directly to the hotel to prepare the boards. We decide to go shoot G-Spot that evening. A good 40 knots is blowing with 2-metre waves.

We hit the water. Titoun sends a succession of tweaked pushies, backloops, a one-handed goiter and more crazy stunts. Camille’s first jumps are simply stratospheric, a good 15-metres at least. It is simply amazing what they are pulling off after the long journey from the PWA competition in Pozo Izquierdo (Pozo – Paris – Dohat – Muscat – Masirah).

But then disaster strikes, Camille dislocates his shoulder after just 30 minutes on the water. We need a doctor and fast! Luckily there is a Bulgarian doctor on the water with us… he reconnects the shoulder without too much pain for Camille.

Without telling us, we already know the verdict: Camille will not sail again. Convalescent, Camille will stay for the rest of the trip. For me, the only one who did not know Camille before, I am touched by his kindness and humility. We are definitely a true team.

From now on all the pressure is on Titoun; he has to represent professional windsurfing under the big lens of Pierre and Martin.

We have many great opportunities to shoot at several spots: G-Spot (starboard tack, offshore jumping), Sheina or Polacks (point break with offshore strong and gusty winds, surf oriented), Haqal – South (never previously ridden, large hollow sections with rocks down to the sea and very sharp), Khaasit (jumping and surfing starboard tack, side off and the most popular) at the southern tip of the island (jumping on port tack).

After three weeks side by side on the island we are happy to resume exploration of the rest of the continent. Titoun must join the rest of the circuit for the PWA in Tenerife. And Camille must return to Guadeloupe for an almost certain operation.

PART 3 – THE CONTINENT

We have focused our efforts in Masirah as we only had a week to shoot with Camille and Titoun and wanted to secure the best conditions, but now we have time to explore further.

We decide to head up the east coast towards Muscat. The beautiful straight lines at Aselaah hold our attention, but unfortunately there is not a breath of wind and we do not have our surfboards. We stop in Wadi and walk the mountains. We are in shock. There is such a cultural and temporal difference at the bottom of these mountains, but the Omanis, kindness is always present, in both the cities and in the remote villages of the mountains.

What an amazing country.

It is time to get back to Muscat to spend our last night in the Sultanate. We grant ourselves a cold glass of beer and we deserve it, it is so hot every night, and we discuss the trip.

The Sultanate of Oman surely rivals some of the best summer destinations for Europeans! I am thinking of Moulay, Pozo, Fuerte, Portugal, etc. and in my humble opinion, yes, it does.

The statistics and quality of the spots are just incredible. However, it is worth keeping in mind that the infrastructure is still limited for tourism.

There is a lack of entertainment, so don’t expect to windsurf by day and party by night. Also, if your partner does not windsurf it may be better to leave her or him at home for this one. It is also worth bringing spares of as much equipment as possible, in case of breakages. Oman has huge potential, with great wind and endless sun, but if you are thinking of a trip, bear in mind the lack of infrastructure… hopefully this will build in the future, in a renewable way, and provide an excellent alternative to the usual windsurfing summer destinations.

Camille Juban - Sultanate of OmanWindsurfing in the Sultanate Of OmanWindsurfing in the Sultanate Of Oman

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