Windsurfing's So Back, Baby - And Malta's the Perfect Playground

Hey there, water lovers! You know me as the gadget geek behind Sailing in Style, but today, I'm putting down the tech for a moment and picking up my old friend: the windsurf board. 

Windsurfing in Mellieha, Malta

Yep, you heard that right. At the ripe age of 53, I'm diving back into the sport that first captured my heart in my youth. I've always loved being on the water – sailing, kayaking, you name it – but windsurfing... it's just something else.

Wait - Why Windsurfing? Why Now?

I'll admit, it's been a while since I've been on a board. Life gets busy, you know? But recently, I've been feeling that familiar pull back to the wind and waves. I watched the surfers in the Mellieha Bay, at gale force 5, and thought: 

Man, windsurfing is having a serious comeback! And oh boy, am I stoked! It's been almost 40 years since I last rode the waves with a sail and board, but the stoke is still real. 

And what better place to rekindle the flame than right here in Malta? For those who don't know, Malta isn't just a gorgeous Mediterranean gem; it's also got a bit of a windsurfing legacy. Back in the 80s, it was a major hub for the sport, with pros and enthusiasts flocking here for the ideal conditions.

And you know what? Those conditions haven't changed a bit. The crystal-clear waters, consistent winds, and diverse coastlines make Malta an absolute windsurfing paradise.

The 80s & 90s: Malta's Windsurfing Heyday

Windsurfing took Malta by storm in the 1980s and early 90s. The Maltese islands, with their consistent winds, warm waters, and varied coastlines, proved to be a haven for both professional windsurfers and enthusiastic amateurs. During this golden era, local bays were alive with the vibrant sails of countless windsurfers riding the waves and mastering the winds.

Malta: A Windsurfing Legacy

You might be surprised to learn that Malta has a rich windsurfing history. Back in the 80s and 90s, the island was a major hub for the sport, drawing windsurfers from around the world. We even had Olympic athletes flying the Maltese flag on the international stage!

Peter Bonello represented Malta in the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, achieving the country's best Olympic placement for 24 yearsJean Paul Fleri Soler competed in two Olympic games, further demonstrated Malta's strong presence in the sport.

It's Coming Back, Baby!

While windsurfing's popularity waned somewhat in the late 90s, it has experienced a resurgence in recent years. A passionate group of sailors, including Fleri Soler, have been instrumental in revitalizing the sport in Malta through training programs, events, and festivals.

Today, Malta remains a sought-after destination for windsurfing, attracting enthusiasts from around the world. Mellieha Bay, in particular, is renowned for its windsurfing conditions, catering to both beginners and experienced riders.

The windsurfing community in Malta is tight-knit and welcoming. Local clubs and schools offer lessons, equipment rentals, and social events, fostering a vibrant atmosphere for windsurfers of all levels.

Mellieha Bay: A Windsurfing Haven

I've chosen Mellieha Bay as my windsurfing home base, and it hasn't disappointed. First, It's obvious - we live here in our apartment with a maximum distance of (gasp) 300m to the water. The bay's sheltered waters are perfect for practicing maneuvers and building up confidence, while the nearby Ghadira Nature Reserve offers stunning scenery and a tranquil atmosphere.

And I'm not alone in my rediscovery of windsurfing's joys. I've teamed up with Austin, the passionate owner of SurfingMalta.com and a fellow windsurfing enthusiast. Let's just say he's not afraid to tackle those Force 5 winds and beyond! Check this picture, gale force 6 and the fun starts ;)

Austin beat the wind at force 6

It's a 2 km easy ride with my bike from my door to Austin's base where he takes care about the boards and the maintenance. A bit of advertisement - take the membership. It's worth.

With Austin's expertise and the welcoming community at Surfing Malta, I'm feeling well supported and inspired than ever to reconnect to the stuff I did 40 years back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned pro, or you just want to reconnect with the long gone days, there's something for everyone here in Mellieha.

Windsurfing is the Perfect Match for the Maltese Lifestyle

Surfing isn't just a sport; it's a lifestyle. I mountain bike, I used to drive a Ryker, Sail (obviously) and love to try new things, and any kind of water toys. And that lifestyle fits perfectly with the laid-back, sun-soaked vibe of Malta.

Here, it's not about rushing or competing; it's about connecting with nature, embracing the elements, and feeling the sheer joy of gliding across the water, powered by nothing but the wind. I mean, hey, with a 235' and a large sail, I somewhat glide relaxed over the crystal-clear water, and with some luck I see large fish's beneath me. No rush, no competition - just a bunch of Yachts and people enjoying the sun and life.

And let's be real, after a certain age, it's also about finding activities that challenge us physically but are gentle on our joints. Windsurfing ticks all those boxes. It's a full-body workout, but it's low-impact making it a great option for us "mature" athletes. (Hey, I'm embracing the age thing!)

My Windsurfing Gear Picks

Since this is Sailing in Style, I couldn't resist adding a few gadget recommendations!

  • Board: I'm starting with a wider, more stable board for easier learning. I suggest a 235, for more agility and speed a smaller 180 is also a great pick
  • Sail: A smaller sail is ideal for beginners in Mellieha's lighter winds. Since I'm a big boy, I use a larger sail with a 235 board.
  • GPS Watch: To track my sessions and see how I'm improving. Or not, I don't really care :)
  • Impact Vest: Because, duh, when it hits, it might hit hard!

Stay tuned for updates on my windsurfing progress, gear reviews, and maybe even a few tips for those of you who might be considering getting back on a board yourselves. After all, it's never too late to ride the waves!