Mauritius (by Colin Savage)

This July, once again I got up early on a Wednesday morning to catch a flight to Perth and then an eight-hour hop to Mauritius. Weeks of packing and repacking one board and rig and a ten metre roll of bubble wrap in preparation for 10 days on the paradise island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. This is my third trip there but it doesn’t make the decision of what size gear to take any less agonising – should I play it safe with a 136 litre board and 8.5 m2 sail in case the wind is light, or roll the dice and take some smaller kit for fun on the really windy days?

IMG_5077On the East of the island where we staying in our rented house in Poste Lafayette, the wind usually blows about 13 – 15kts most days, with a few calm days and a couple in the low 20s. I decided to take my new 100 litre AtomIQ, a 7.3 m2 KA Koncept and packed a snorkel for all the other days that I would be sitting on the beach unable to sail. I arrived to meet my South African mates and there was plenty of questioning of my sanity as they unpacked their 130 and 140 litre boards and 8.5+ m2 sails. Qantas and Air Mauritius looked after my kit and it all arrived in one piece with no extra charges. If you stay a Le Morne you can rent gear there, anywhere else you’ll need to take your own.

Poste Lafayette is quite far from the normal touristy areas, so we settled in for a lot of windsurfing and not much else. A short path separated us from the coral reef lagoon, with very few underwater obstacles, clear blue water and a gentle swell of waves that make it over the reef at high tide. Being the middle of winter, we mostly had the entire beach to ourselves, except for a few kites and the racehorses from the local racetrack brought down to the beach every afternoon for their training swim.

imageThe first day of sailing had plenty of ridicule sent my way as I bobbed along, just barely getting the 100 litre board on the plane a few times with plenty of pumping – it was looking like that snorkel would be needed. Only one thing to do – drink Phoenix (the local beer) and eat pizza. Unfortunately, the only place we could find was a 5-star resort and spent $100 on 3 pizzas – it was worth it. The next 8 days were different, every day after that blew 20 knots or more and we had to do some serious sail tuning to deal with the stronger wind. It turns out that the AtomIQ was the perfect choice as it dealt easily with the chop and swell in the lagoon.

I took one day to drive around the island and see some of the natural beauty of the scenery alongside the busy and squalid towns. A highlight was the monument to the explorer Matthew Flinders, who circumnavigated Australia. It’s a great winter destination for windsurfing as you are sure to get many windy days, accommodation, food, beer and flights are relatively inexpensive.

P.S. The snorkel never even got wet!