Words: Lucy Robson
I get asked quite frequently why I moved to Fuerteventura and the honest answer is: I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else.
I still feel blessed when I pull up in the van at Glass Beach and see the ocean shining under the Canarian sun and know that I have all day to spend here and can play in the ocean until exhaustion sends me home. No biting cold or less than ideal onshore dribble to test my motivation. It really is a sea-lover’s paradise here.
It is almost three years since I came over here in the summer 2012 and made the decision to relocate with my young daughter. I still remember being utterly entranced by the way of life here and quite simply, I didn’t want to leave, nor could I find any logical or overwhelming reason not to take a chance and see where this path could lead me.
I sacrificed many things to move here and make it work but in my mind I was doing the most sensible thing I’d contemplated in years. I was scraping back the facade of being too many things to too many people. I was ready to embrace my true self and spend as much time on the water as possible.
It is probably self-evident that like many, I have a fairly all-consuming passion for the sea – in particular windsurfing and SUP. Often at the cost of friendships and financial disaster, I simply can’t reign myself in and stop wanting to spend every available moment at the beach. I will put almost everything on the line just to get on the water, even when it’s not very good! For me, you cannot beat that feeling when the water hits my face and I become part of the breath-taking beauty of the ocean.
When I was sick with cancer in the summer of 2012 and enduring rounds of debilitating chemotherapy, it wasn’t my hair falling out that was bothering me, but, the worry that I might miss a session whilst I was in hospital. Sick as I was, I still took every chance to get on the water and never gave in. My love for the ocean was one of the few things that preserved my sanity and spirit and reminded me that I was alive. Logically or not, of all the things in my life at that time, I was frantic to not be able to go windsurfing at Punta Blanca or take my SUP out at Majanicho and go wave riding with my friends.
I remember sailing Punta Blanca after flying back from the UK to Fuerte after a chemotherapy round that had gone disastrously wrong and ended in an anaphylactic reaction. I rigged my kit and sailed away from the beach in very light winds. On a normal day hardly worth the effort, but on that day it meant everything.
Amazing autumn and winter
And so now, that chapter closed and put to one side, what can I say? If you’re an aficionado of Facebook and have kept an eye on my profile, you’ve probably noticed that we’ve had a pretty amazing autumn and winter! In September, I ran a dedicated girls’ SUP camp and we were rewarded with glassy conditions every day. I watched the huge grins light up the faces of the girls at Majanicho as they caught their first waves.
I remember several days at Rocky Point when we had very decent sized surf on the outer reef and feeling uncontrollable laughter when that looming ominous shape of an approaching clear-out set cast the horizon in shadow. I would dive as deep as I could and come up to everyone laughing around me, paddle straight out the back and do my best to catch something from the next set, getting stuck in to all the jostling for position around me.
Then came October and still the amazing clean surf persisted and more of us convinced ourselves to go smaller and smaller on the SUP board. Whether it is to shut the surfers up with their constant jibes about only SUPing because we can’t surf (not true by the way), or more accurately because a Fanatic ProWave 7.6ft will turn like a surfboard and feel incredible! I absolutely love my board and the ability it gives me to wave ride with real precision. I just hope for days that aren’t too choppy to test my balance to frustrating levels.
Dropping into triple overhead waves
I am constantly glued to the forecast and hoping that I can get stuck into some training. The downside to having a windsurf coach for a partner is that I definitely feel the pressure to be constantly improving and break through the mediocre barrier. As you might have already guessed, the talent level on the north of the island is extremely high. The locals aren’t getting to grips with catching a wave on a SUP or working on your average forward loop. They are dropping into triple overhead waves and launching into huge stalled forwards. Anything less is hardly worth a mention. And is it hard, being in this competitive and male dominated environment? The truth is, yes it is, not least of all for the pressure it puts on you to be sailing/SUPing at the level of everyone around you.
Felt utterly depressed
I have often driven away from the beach wanting to dump my equipment in the nearest rubbish skip and felt utterly depressed and beyond consoling at a bad session I’ve had. I will beat myself up for not trying harder and not showing enough motivation. And then there are also those days when everything goes according to plan, when one of my friends will cheer from the water and shout encouragement to me in Spanish, and the answer is obvious, yes I can do this! Like everything, it’s about harnessing the mental energy from hard times and making something positive out of it. And with that, I’m off to the beach, hoping beyond hope that the forecast delivers.