August 25, 2013

A Week on the Water - windsurfing in Bombannes

A week on the Water

Windsurfing on Lac d'Hourtin Carcans (in the Bordeaux area, France)

Joining my good friend on her trip from Düsseldorf to Brittany brought me back to France, and after a wonderful weekend in the area it was time for me to say goodbye and head down south again - to Bordeaux and towards the coast.

It is an area I have been to before, I was here in the end of June, when I went surfing (in Lacanau, very close to Carcans), and I was also in the area 2012, for windsurfing.

Surfing you do on the sea, the ocean outside Bordeaux is always in motion, with amazing waves for surfers - although not always easy for beginners (and watch out, the currents are strong at times, I would not go in the water without proper instructions and without someone keeping an eye on me, missing me if I don't get up) - windsurfing is great on Lake Carcans-Hourtin (Lac d'Hourtin-Carcans), the biggest fresh water lake in France, as my teacher told me. 

Both windsurfing and surfing is a lot of fun. I am not very good at either of them – not yet anyhow – but I really enjoy it. Both sports require good balance as well as some strenght (and even more stubbornness), and yet they are both different from each other. Surfing is easier in the sense that you need less equipment, and you only go in one direction, with the waves, towards  the beach (with some turning for those who are good, but still, you end up back on the beach). Windsurfing can take you away from the shore if you don't know what you are doing. When it comes to windsurfing you can take time to figure things out (unless it is very windy), but with surfing you have limited time; You have to catch that wave, and you have to get up fast, or you will be on the beach before you get up.  Windsurfing you can transport yourself to places (once you have learnt enough that is), and you can do what we did and go for picnic - very nice. Surfing is more "just" a sport. Windsurfing you have to be less IN the water - you are ON the water and the good windsurfers hardly gets wet.

I wasn't sure if I'd be able to fit in a week of windsurfing this year, but how could I not go; I had the summer relatively free, as my studies were distance studies, and I could combine the both, so in August I went. 

France. One day I want to live here. For a while.
 Why Bordeaux-area? Well, it's pretty simple. I do my sport holidays with UCPA, a French organisation that have been offering these kind of holidays for years. UCPA (see link) is a non-profit organisation and there are no frills, it is simple - just the way I like it; Shared rooms (different size depending on the centre), all meals included – buffet breakfast, lunch and dinner so you take your own food and remove the dirty dishes and clear the table after you – all the special equipment needed for your sport (wetsuit, surfboard, sail and life west in for windsurfing), and a group that is on your level, plus a great trainer (I always had fantastic “moniteurs” when travelling with this organisation) who will look after you, help you develop and challenge you. I love love love UCPA and can not imagine travelling with any other organisation; The UCPA trips are the only “group trips” that I do. I can travel with friends, but would not go on any other group trips than with UCPA; The spirit of UCPA is quite special (and, I know, it doesn't suit everybody, but it suits me. I have always enjoyed it and I have made good friends. Now I also have the chance to practise French, as my french is getting better and better.)

UCPA - the "resque boat" for lost windsurfers...
UCPA offers windsurfing in more areas, I could have gone to the centre in Benodet, in Brittany - I have been there before and it is a good centre - but I really like the area close to Bordeaux as the weather is better there - and I am spending a fair amount of time IN the water still. I'd consider Benodet for sailing but for windsurfing I like to be on the lake - there is always a shore on the other side, closer than the cost of Spain...  The big lake is well suited for both windsurfing and sailing, as well as stand-up paddle for those who do that. I can already now say that I will try and return next year - and next year I plan to be better when I arrive; There are plenty of opportunities to do water sports in Taiwan, it is an island after all.

Windsurfing and surfing simply has my heart - I love the water! You will never catch me sunbathing on a beach, sunbathing bores me to death, but I will be on the water, I will walk next to the water, and I will sit and stare out over the water.  Never again will I move somewhere as far away from big waters as Düsseldorf, if I can help it!
The sun setting over Bombannes (Maubuisson) - how could I say no to coming here?

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