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News Lanzarote - Calima Surf Camp Holidays
10-05-2008

You want to do something new? You want to go on an adventure?
 
But your friends can’t get the leave and you think you’re going to be at home twiddling your thumbs during your downtime from work…

Why not go it alone on a surfing break?

I’ve done it lots of times and I wholeheartedly recommend it.

Surfing is a boom area.

The sport was once the playground of the young and the restless, but it isn’t cheap and recent years have seen it evolve into the summer equivalent to skiing.

Professional people with stressful lives seek out the tranquillity of surf resorts, where they can connect with nature and leave the nine-to-five behind.

Women and thirty and forty-somethings are embracing the activity.

It’s the second-fastest growing sport for females, with twice as many women as men taking up the sport.

And if you fall, you land in the water - meaning that those of us over 30 don’t have the same concerns we have when taking up a high-impact sport.

But how about doing it on your own?

Unlike skiing (which can be a bit lonely), surfing offers a ready-made group of friends if you check into one of the surf camps which have grown with the sport across the world.

I checked into Calima Surf (www.surfcanarias.com) in Lanzarote for seven days of surf instruction and good times.

Calima, located in the sleepy town of Famara in the north of the island, has two surf houses.

There are communal kitchens, bathrooms and living areas, with dormitory-style rooms, although you can book single occupancy for a supplement.

I chose Calima because it attracts an international crew. As well as surfing, lessons in windsurfing and kitesurfing are available.

If you arrive in the day, the crowd are generally at the beach, but come home-time, the surf house is a hive of activity.

Famara is quiet, which brings out the best in people who like to organise their own fun, with the two surf houses often combining to dream up and enjoy the extra-curricular activities.

Whether it’s a dinner party, or a roadtrip to the bustling resorts on the south of the island, there is always something to get involved with.

If you prefer to stay home and chill, you’ll probably have the place to yourself. Perfect.

And so to the surf lessons.

Weekdays at 10am, the students meet at surf HQ on the edge of town.

Most days bring new recruits, so there’s always someone to talk to.

You’re kitted out with a board appropriate to your ability, which you store at HQ each night. If you progress, you switch boards. The only thing you need to take home is your wetsuit.

Famara beach - seven kilometres of golden sand - is a stone’s throw from the town, but you’re taken by minibus.

All the instructors speak English.

My teacher was Brazilian-born Claudio, who gave up the stock markets of Sao Paulo to follow a more simple life 15 years ago.

The day’s students were made up of two Frenchmen, a Dutch couple, three guys from Switzerland and me, but everyone understood English - and that was the language of the lesson.

As with any sport, the warm-up is important. A jog along the deserted beach was following by some stretching and a talk on reading the sea conditions. Then we were on to the boards.

Claudio talked us through how to paddle for a wave and pop-up techniques - that’s the process where you get to your feet. After practising on the sand, we hit the sea.
The sandy-bottomed bay of Famara with its consistent waves is a great place for beginners.

Standing in waist-high water, the white water of the broken waves is powerful enough for you to enjoy ride after ride, mastering how to get to your feet.

For more experienced surfers, you can paddle out back to enjoy the unbroken waves and practise your turns, under Claudio’s supervision - like most beaches, Famara can be unpredictable.

At lunch time, the students of all abilities talk about the morning’s events, while enjoying the view.

The lessons finish at 3pm, when you hitch a ride back to HQ. There’s time for a shower, a siesta and a sunbathe in a hammock before the sun goes down and the night’s activities commence.

Some of your room-mates will have been out chasing bigger waves or learning how to kite or windsurf in other parts of the island.

The different and shared experiences of the housemates mean there’s always something to talk about.

But the conversation isn’t all about surfing. There were students from Chile, Canada, France, Spain, Switzerland, Holland and the UK in my week.

My language skills are a bit lacking, but theirs weren’t - and the conversation flowed with the sangria. It was fascinating to learn about their lives.

Katrina Jones, 22, from Vancouver, explained the appeal of going solo to a surf camp.

'I know the people who come to surf are generally the people I like to hang out with. Everyone is pretty laid back - it’s really relaxed,' she said.

'I can stay at home waiting for people to save their money, to go to the places I want to visit, or I can not waste my time - and just go!

'You can do what you want - it’s your trip, your life'

Maud Colombet, 28, from Lyon, was on her third solo surfing trip.

'You are more open to meet other people and you are more focussed on what you want to do,' she said.

'I’m always a little bit nervous when I am alone at the airport. I always wonder if I am going to meet nice people and whether it will be okay, but I’ve always met nice people and I stay in touch with them.

'At home, you’re not going to meet people that easily.

'It’s a way of really simplifying your life.'