Tourism authorities in Portugal are to capitalise on a recent surfing record that was set in the nation, in order to boost tourism.
Portugal took the opportunity to promote its beaches when Hawaiian extreme surfer, Garrett McNamara, broke a world record this week by catching an, estimated, 100-foot wave off the Portuguese fishing village of Nazare. Now tourism officials are working overtime to capitalise on the development and attract more surfers like McNamara to the waves.
The tourism department is also turning to good use the negative publicity that the coast around Nazare has traditionally had. There is a saying that in Nazare, ‘the ocean is known as a place of death, not of riding waves.’ Now, the department is looking to use the saying as a challenge to promote the area to intrepid surfers.
Portugal’s tourism office said, ‘We have 450 miles of clean Atlantic coastline and some surfing beaches that are out of this world.’ The department was not exaggerating, because the unique geography of Nazare creates giant waves that are truly out of this world. Even though the country’s Algarve and Cortegaca regions draw plenty of surfers, it is Nazare’s giant waves that give seasoned surfers a true rush of adrenalin.
Climatologists offer many reasons for the huge waves that are common in the region. Some believe that big storms in the North Atlantic during the winter push swells toward Europe. Added to this is the fact that Nazare has a 1,600-foot-deep undersea canyon, which points like an arrow toward the town, and there are enough scientific reasons to explain the giant waves that can strike awe into those who set out to capture them. Water travelling over the canyon is calm due to its depth, and when the waves crash into the shallow shore they have nowhere to go but straight up. This happens so suddenly that the effect is awesome. Nazare’s waves also have another unique selling point, wave riders come very close to the cliff, which adds to the thrill.
McNamara said, ‘There is nowhere in the world even remotely like it for enjoying the power and size of waves so close. It is mesmerizing to sit on the cliff and watch the waves and there is nowhere like it. But all I feel is that we will be able to share this place with a few more people.’
For those of us who merely gawp at the colourful dots gracefully zigzagging down titanic walls of water, watching the surfing experts of the world tear through rolls of turquoise tunnels before effortlessly gliding through the shallows of the tide onto the beige beach, leaving the roar of the crashing sea howling behind them. A dangerous sport, which requires a momentous amount of skill, bravery, fitness and refined technique; consequently making surfing an activity most of which would not even dare to attempt.
However, Woolacombe Bay Holiday Parks in North Devon has a state of the art sports complex due to open in May 2012, which will be home to the first inside surfing stimulator. Guests can bypass the usual half hour gruelling treadmill workout and a frustrating fifteen minute spat on the cross trainer to experience what surfing would really be like. The machine provides a surfing board positioned on an artificial wave which generates a thin sheet of water flowing over a stationary curl of liquid. I daresay a degree of balance and patience would be required before one can begin to enjoy the activity, yet Woolacombe Bay assures that anyone from beginners to experienced surfers can practice the sport in a safe and controlled environment.
The exhilarating and unique stimulation will be supervised by an army of qualified instructors and professional surfers on hand to provide advice and encouragement. Westsuits, various boards and all other additional equipment is provided to ensure you have a very realistic, exciting and predictably wet experience. Condensing the thrill of riding a wave and maintaining a stabilised position on the rolling thrash of the current beneath you is sure to draw hoards of budding-surfers to the complex.
Woolacombe Bay is also breaking away from traditional fitness activities; a spinning class or water aerobics session will surely be eclipsed by the large handful of thrilling features also due to be launched in May. A new multi-levelled high ropes course, a looming rocky climbing wall, plunging bungee run and bouncing bungee trampoline are just a few of the in house jewels guest can explore.
The climax of all the newly unveiled sporting sensations is the distinctive ‘Wateralkerz’, the name alone triggering a mixture of textured questions from those who’d have thought walking on water was a concept that belonged in biblical times. However, guests can also experience what walking on water would really be like due to the genius creation of an inflatable, inimitable ‘Wateralkerz’ pool.
So, if you are tired of those tedious lengths in your local swimming pool or can’t muster enough energy to pull yourself repeatedly back and forth on the rower machine, Woolacombe Bay perhaps could be the answer. Woolacombe Bay can dissolve the harsh cost of trekking it all the way over to the mecca of surfers in Australia, when all you really need to do is hop on the M5 for a taster of surfing, climbing and the miracle water walking.
Article by Emma Boyle
GirlieCamps, the original organiser of action sports camps for girls, has teamed up with Brotherhood Camps this summer. We meet for a week of surfing right at the centre of Biarritz, staying in a hotel in front of La Grand Plage.
Brotherhood Camps was founded by snowboard legend Peter Strom and have decided to come down from the mountain this summer adding surfing the offering. GirlieCamps and Brotherhood Camps will go surfing together during the days and hang out together in the evenings. We surf with one of the best surf schools in the region, picking the best surf spot for the day. You will learn how to surf and experience the surfing life style. We will teach security on the beach.
During the week we also practice yoga and give advice and tips about nutrition and what to eat. We will go to a Biarritz restaurant one evening and throw a beach party together. Everything will be documented by a photographer and campers can buy their own DVD with memories from the week. You get the best of everything Biarritz city mixed with surfing, beach and parties.
GirlieCamps – www.girliecamps.com
Brotherhood Camps – www.brotherhoodcamps.com