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Sunset

El Yaque, Margarita

Me 'n' Ricardo and some other guys
06/03/07
Well, lemme see, I was hanging with R and a few of these other people turned up...
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El Yaque is a very small settlement on the south coast of the island of Margarita, which is part of the Caribbean islands, just off the coast of Venezuela - yeah, I had to look it up to check it too! It's the home of the world's top freestylers, including Ricardo Campello and Gollito Estredo, and the wind blows a consistent F4-F7 cross-shore during Feb/March. There aren't many waves as such, although a gentle swell breaks over to the left of the main beach on a shallow area at low tide. With a deep shallow shore, it's perfect for practising gybes, waterstarts etc. and the morning lighter winds are fine for beginners.

The main beach is stuffed with windsurfing centres, Club Margarita is pretty popular with the Brits, I've used Fun Systems which is the most upwind of them. This can be pretty handy because it can get very busy in the main sailing area, so it's well worth staying as far upwind as possible. There are other beaches to sail to upwind if you fancy a change too. Be careful of the kitesurfers, there is a beginners area upwind of the windsurfing area, but most of them get shipped off by boat to somewhere where they can pester each other and not you.

You can get there with a direct flight with First Choice, which leaves Gatwick fortnightly midweek (so you have to stay for at least two weeks!), or take scheduled airlines via Caracas. Planet Windsurf and suchlike do packages too, with the windsurfing gurus Cribby and Simon B running courses in the Feb/March period.

Night life is brilliant, with something always happening if you look for it, or even if you don't - an impromptu merengue and salsa lesson happened to a group of us in a bar one night, provided by the bar staff! It is heavily fuelled by the availability of cheap rum...

Take US dollars, in large notes ($50), ask the centre people for the place to go for the best rates on the black market - it can make a big difference, like 15%. Other than that, board shorts and a rash vest, high factor suncream (preferably waterproof), and I find cheap sunglasses with a sports strap pretty useful on the water in the strong sun. And possibly a hat. Food is good in El Yaque itself with various restaurants (might be tough for a veggie though), and the centres and hotels putting on barbecues on non-competing nights, usually with FREE rum and coke (translation: Cuba Libre). Cocktails at about 50p a time provide an ideal way to meet your 5 daily fruit and veg target painlessly.

If you forget something crucial or it breaks, there are several shops selling gear, at prices that are pretty reasonable given the captive audience.

Last updated: 04/05/07 08:45 By: Andrew
Views: 1774