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jubilee week in turkey
june 2002

Dad, why do we never go abroad? Dad, why do you always get to go away windsurfing? Dad, why don't we ever go anywhere hot and sunny? etc., etc. Having had to resort to the "'cos I earn the money" argument rather too often we eventually thought a family holiday to somewhere nice was a good idea. I managed to swing the ideas towards a more active holiday, perhaps even with a bit of windsurfing (surprise, surprise). So eventually we tried to book a Neilson "Active" holiday in Greece over the Jubilee/ half term week at the beginning of June. We ended up with a Neilson Beachplus holiday in Turkey, just round the corner from Bitez (couldn't be better I thought), which turned out to be just what we wanted.

We started off well by nearly missing the flight from Gatwick. We'd checked in well on time and then decided to have breakfast. Of course I'd forgotten how long it can take to get through to the departure lounge at major holiday times. The gate was also, of course, the furthest away. We made it to the gate with about 5 minutes to spare, but we weren't the last.

The Seaside Hotel (very original name), Ortakent Yahsi, is just over a headland from Bitez. It's Neilson's first year here and it's managed by the same people who run the two Neilson hotels in Bitez - this is a good thing. The Beachplus holiday is different from Neilson's "active" holidays in that they're a bit more up market and the activities are aimed at beginner/taster sessions - so don't expect an RYA certificate at the end. There are more activities to choose from - windsurfing, dinghies, catamarans, fun boats, beach kayaks, water skiing, ringo and banana rides, tennis, mountain bikes, aerobics, beauty therapy(don't all rush) or just lazing around by the pool. It costs a bit more as well but does is include all food except for 3 evening meals and by food I mean serious amounts of food. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all buffet style so you can pig out as much as you like. The hotel rooms are a good size with air conditioning (are we getting soft?). Rosemary approved all this so things looked good. All I needed was some wind.

Our two boys, Matthew (12) and Simon (9), were banished to the Surfbusters children's club. This was very well run and involved lots of noise and water so they both enjoyed it. Matthew sneaked off a few times when he got bored and was usually to be found trying to persuade the staff to let him take a boat out on his own. He managed a fun boat a couple of times but usually had to put up with a beach kayak.

The organised instruction is aimed at beginners and is really just to get you get you going. The kit is therefore mostly aimed at this level. For windsurfing there were two boards around 105 litres, 2 F2 Xantos's, 2 Starboard Carve 151's (very nice), 6 Hi-Fly Madds, and the rest were Hi-Fly Maxx and Primo beginners boards - a strange selection for a beach just round the corner from Bitez.. The "boats" were Fun boats, Laser Picos, Lasers, 3 Dart catamarans and 2 Laser 2000s.

We both had a go at beginners dinghies in the mornings when there wasn't much wind. Rosemary capsized on her first outing which rather put her off. But she did have another go the next day before retiring to a sun lounger for the rest of the week. I found the Picos very easy to sail although having this extra rudder thing on the back is a bit confusing.

Did I do any windsurfing? We had 3 windy afternoons. By windy I mean a gusty 3 to 4 for a couple of hours. This was only to be expected in Turkey in June. But I did get two good afternoons out on a Starboard 151 with an 8.6 Tushingham Max. I did like this combination. Got a bit of carve gybe coaching - I was doing practically everything wrong except the falling off bit.

We met a couple, also with two boys, who happened to be rather good sailors. On the third windy afternoon they took Rosemary and me out on a Dart 16 catamaran. It was good fun hanging out on the trapeze and scrambling around trying to keep the four of us evenly distributed around the deck. We got very wet. We sailed out all the way round Numens Island, past the entrance to the bay at Bitez and back to the beach. Quite a few times we had one hull just skimming the water even with four onboard. It still seemed a bit sedate compared to a board.

Got to get this last bit in. On the last Sunday there was a regatta in the afternoon. I won the windsurfing race mainly because I could pump downwind on a run, something I've learnt from longboard racing.

Overall we thought it was a great holiday for the family and we'd like to do it again.

Keith Shepherd

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