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6 go to kos

Kefalos Bay in Kos is advertised as being Freerider's Paradise "kos it's windy, kos it's fun, kos it's hot and kos it's F2". Three Nomads; John White (fresh from his Moon Beach experience), myself, Phillipa, and 3 non-Nomads were all hoping that this particular holiday advert was for once going to live up to its claims.

We took the anti-social night flight from Gatwick and landed in Kos after a 4.5 hours flight in the early hours of Sunday morning (30th July). The reason for this is the potential for 7 full days of windsurfing! Following a very long and painful baggage reclaim experience (airport organisation is obviously not a Greek strong point), and a short coach drive into Kefalos to our self catering accommodation, called Savvas Studios, we all had a quick snooze, and a late breakfast. Whilst walking along the Kamari beach to register at the F2-North centre, we were pleased to see that the sky was blue, the sea was crystal clear and it was certainly hot, BUT, one vital component was missing - WIND! There was a very light on-shore breeze, nothing to get excited about, but we were gagging to get out anyway. After an initial introduction from the very friendly grade 5 instructors Simon and Pete, we decided to take the wide style F2 Xantos' (290 or 300cm) along with the largest North sails available (7.3m2) for a whirl. We were informed by Simon that after an extremely good May, June and July, they were experiencing very unusual light on-shore winds and that the usual trading winds (Meltemi) had been absent for nearly 5 days which explained the number of frustrated windsurfers wondering around the beach. We were assured that the winds were expected to return tomorrow. Very reassuring words, but we knew from past experience of holidays in Vassiliki, Gran Canaria and Lanzarote, that more often than not, when it comes to wind, the luck is mostly against us due to some unfortunate freak chance of nature!

The highlight of day 1 was therefore a very pleasant snorkel around the small island of Kastri, just opposite the Club Med centre. In the evening we explored the main strip and found plenty of restaurants and bars to tempt up. After a nice and very cheap meal, lots of drinks and free pool, we ended the night praying to the Greek God of wind to stock up on baked beans during the night!

Day 2, unfortunately started in a similar fashion, with only an even lighter on shore breeze (no baked beans we guessed!). Again Simon reassured us that low onshore wind was a good sign and that the wind of about to change. Yeah, yeah we muttered, as we decided to spend the day on the sun-beds. But, lo and behold, to our surprise, the flag started changing direction just after to noon and the hobies in the water started leaning and picking up speed. The Meltimi offshore winds had indeed returned, and the smiles and excitement returned to our camp. I took out the Xantos 295 with the 7.3m2 sail in the force 3-4 conditions, and planed up and down across the entire length of the bay. The wind was much stronger further out (around 200m offshore), so I swapped for a very nice Freeride 282 with a 6.6m2 sail. We had a fantastic afternoon of sailing and most of the group managed to make it back through the off-shore winds without the assistance of the rescue boat - for some this was a feat not to be repeated too often throughout the rest of the week. This was exactly what we were looking for in a holiday - sun, blue sea (none of the Weston silt here!) and lots of wind. The wind though was not very consistent as there were areas of lulls followed by huge gusts throughout the bays as the resort is surrounded by four very large hills, which the wind blew through, but this only added to the variety!

To cut the story short, we can say that Kos is definitely a very windy place, as the winds stayed with us throughout the holiday and in fact continued to pick up, and invariably throughout the afternoons we were battling with up to force 7 winds and above. I managed to use most of the kit (7.3 to 4.8m2 sails, 265 Air, 273 Axxis etc.). The wind was actually relentless and blew strongly even at nights, unlike most other places we've visited. This helped keep the temperatures comfortable during the nights (no a.c. or fans) and the mossies away! We can definitely say that the rescue cover is excellent with Simon and Pete being very prompt and professional. The other 2 windsurfing centres operating on the beach (Club Med, F2 and Neil Pryde centre) were also willing to pick up those being blow to Bodrum which could been seen in the distance. Unfortunately the requirement for a constant rescue watch did have an impact on the availability of lessons as along with Fan-Fan the owner who showed up infrequently, the guys were both obviously very busy, which meant that the group lessons were somewhat rushed. Another point to note was that we had to vacate the water by 5-30pm each day, to make way for the instructors to do their stuff. Simon showed us some serious flat water forward loops, helped by the wake of a rescue boat (the water conditions were generally flat up to 200m off the beach and then got choppier beyond, but we were advised not to go there too often) and Pete would perform an extremely impressive show including, jumps, 360s, heli-tacks and other numerous dazzling moves!

In summary, we had a very cheap and enjoyable windsurfing holiday. Our group consisted of windsurfers with varying abilities, from a complete beginner to a regular carve gyber and everybody thoroughly enjoyed themselves. The food and drinks were excellent, we highly recommend Hub's restaurant and there are a number of nightclubs in Kefalos.

The F2 centre organised a number of very enjoyable evenings, the regular Thursday night boat trip/B-B-Q is highly recommended, as the food was good, wine plentiful and Greek dancing under the stars a great laugh - easily the best night of the holiday!

The accommodation was simple, but comfortable and you could either eat breakfast and dinner in the family atmosphere dining area downstairs or cook for yourself using the self-catering facilities.

One issue to mention is that we had a dispute with the owner over having to keep our three separate rooms instead of just one, for storage of luggage on the final day. We finally got our single room but had to pay 1.5 times the usual rates. Other places may operate in different ways and there may have storage space and communal shower facilities that would alleviate this problem.

The entire holiday (accommodation and flights) were organised through Freedom holidays (01798 342034 or freedomhols@hotmail.com) and cost us 319 each. Kit hire was 105 or 120 for beginners which included lessons, kit, boots etc. No wet suit or shorties were required at any time!

The final question - would we go to Kos again? The consensus of the group, even those regularly being rescued due to the strong off-shore winds, was yes because the resort was very pleasant, it was windy, and the F2 centre was very well run. However to get the most out of this resort you have to be good enough to cope with the rather tricky gusty offshore conditions!

Fred Hussain - Aug 2000.

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