Ever tried windsurfing? We hadn’t! That was soon about to change though, as my friends Jean, Léa, Yann-Mathis and I kitted up to take our first lesson with instructor Paul at the Pôle Nautique Hague, one of the largest watersports centres in Normandy, situated on the beautiful headland of Cap de la Hague.

The place to windsurf

So here we are, my friends and me, at the Pôle Nautique Hague on Normandy’s northernmost headland, the Cap de la Hague, just a few miles west of the port town of Cherbourg.

The Pôle Nautique Hague, one of the largest watersports centres in Normandy, is an institution when it comes to windsurfing. Competitions are regularly held here, such as the French Funboarding Championships, which last year welcomed some of the sport’s most prominent competitors. The Pôle Nautique Hague has also hosted Antoine Martin, reigning champion of the Aloha Classic in Hawaii, the most prestigious event in the windsurfing calendar, who is ranked number 4 in the world.

A watersports centre… in a fort

The real surprise when we arrived at the Pôle Nautique Hague was to see that it’s perched atop an old fort! What’s more, the surrounding landscape is absolutely stunning, overlooking swathes of sandy beach and the azure blue sea.

Our instructor Paul greets us and gives us a quick briefing. After we’ve swapped our shorts, T-shirts and trainers for wetsuits and lifejackets, we are each handed our windsurf boards, which have been chosen for us based on our experience, height and the weather conditions. Time to get started!

© Thib’s Prod/Lumières Marines

UP AND AWAY IN FOUR MINUTES

Paul first demonstrates to us the position we need to get into on the board. I make a mental note of where to position my feet, how to hold the sail, and where to put my hands on the boom. We are then shown how to carry our boards and tailfins into the water.

‘The trick is to get into the water and onto your board in four minutes,’ Paul says. We hesitate. ‘It’s not hard, you’ll see!’ Paul assures us.

Challenge accepted. I give it a go and in two minutes thirty, I’m in the water, on the board, up with the sail and moving with the wind – it’s amazing! I take a quick look around at my friends – they’re all up and away too. Paul seems pleased with us and continues to shout advice on how to stay up as he follows us in a launch. It’s reassuring to have him so close by, especially once I realise how far out we now are from the shore!

TURN ABOUT!

After about 20 minutes, my friends and I are feeling a lot more confident on our boards, as we manage to stay up and moving with the wind. Perhaps a bit too confident, in fact, as Paul has to ask us to come in a bit closer to the shore to continue the lesson…

Next on the agenda is learning to turn. Still advising us on the position we need to be in on the board, Paul explains the basics of manouevering, known as tacking (turning with our front to the wind) and gybing (turning with our back to the wind).

Shall we do it again?

By the time our lesson is over and we’re back on the beach, we’re all windsurfing converts and wish we could do it all over again! Heading back to the Pôle Nautique Hague to shower and change, Paul tells us that the watersports centre also runs intermediate lessons for people who have learnt the basics. My friends and I all exchange a meaningful glance. Same time, same place next year?

USEFUL INFORMATION

Pôle Nautique Hague watersports centre

50460 La Hague

polenautiquehague.com

Duration: 1h30 on the water (2h30 in total)

Windsurfing equipment, wetsuit and life jacket provided

From 10 years old

Personal belongings can be left in a secure place at the watersports centre

The above information is subject to change

DATES 2021

All year round

PRICES 2021

€40 per person (group lesson)

Private lessons also available (prices on request)

PLACES TO EAT AND DRINK

Bar-Brasserie Le Saint-Laurent

50460 Urville-Nacqueville

facebook.com/LeSaintLaurentUrville

Le Landemer

50460 Urville-Nacqueville

le-landemer.com/restaurant

Only fancy a snack? Pick up a grévillais from the boulangerie in Gréville-Hague – it’s the local specialty!

PLACES TO STAY

Le Landemer (Urville-Nacqueville)

50460 Urville-Nacqueville

le-landemer.com

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