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Friday, 20 January 2017
Home arrow Trips arrow Holidays arrow Iceland
Iceland
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When I first said I was going to Iceland for a windsurfing holiday, everybodies first response was that I was mad. I get this quite a lot, and usually they're right, but in the case of Iceland I don't think it's true...   So let's get this one out the way, it really ain't that cold, not in April at least. Sure we had a bit of snow, but usually the temperature was about 8 degrees on the coast and it felt pretty warm despite coming from a mini heatwave in the uk.


The next comment is 'isn't it bloody expensive?'
Well I wouldn't fancy going there for a stag do with beer at £4+ a pint, but the food and lodgings aren't any different to the uk. I think their currency is weaker now against the pound so it's not so bad. The flights were £36 out, £68 back, which totalled about £250 with the usual extras flying with Iceland express. 70kg of kit was £25 out and £75 back (should've noticed the 'sports equipment' when I booked online. On the way back they said it was £25 per 12kg of equipment, but if I'd payed already they presumably wouldn't have screwed me..) Total cost for Trudie and myself with a £280 hire car for 7 full days was about £1600.


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I should have checked the prices here incase the Kings wanted to visit.


As for the windsurfing, well I think that it can be as good as anywhere if you get lucky. There's loads of potential wavesailing spots, some very heavy, loads of flat water too, it's windy a lot of the time and cops a lot of swell. The only problem perhaps is that the forecast can change pretty quickly and can't be relied upon. I left the UK on a forecast of almost too much wind and waves for the whole week (41mph 30ft, 34mph 28ft, 35mph 15ft, 43mph 14ft, 25mph 13ft, 27mph 16ft, 30mph 17ft...!!) and only got wet on the first full day.. (christ I'm having a rough time with these trips lately!)
Luckily there's quite a lot to do and Trudie was made up!

I went armed with the stormrider guide to the Islands, some surf mag articles and a contact in Rafn (rexi on boards forum) who kindly gave me spot info, contacts (there are a few windsurfers/surfers in Iceland) and a link to this really useful local weather site. And the thumbs up for wife suitability from fellow speedster Adam Gustaffson who'd just returned from a short holiday over there himself :)


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We arrived on the Sunday night at the Keflavik airport which is near the end of the Reykjanes peninsula. It seemed too late at 6pm to go windsurfing so we drove round the Reykjanes scoping it out for the next day, thinking I had wind to waste. I could easily have sailed, it didn't get dark until 10:30...


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Monday I started with another drive round and eventually settled on spot Z (with 2 laps of the peninsula under my belt). The forecast was 30ft and 30mph SW wind, which seemed about right. Spot Z is in a bay just East of Grindavik (google ref) which Keli (another windsurfer from Iceland) has just told me is Hraunsvík (Lavacove). Grindavik itself has a couple of spots in the stormrider guide but these were onshore and MASSIVE.

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spot z


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Thanks to my beautiful wife Trudie for those pics! That's all of them windsurf wise..

It was a blooming decent session on that wave (best when the tide was lower as it started to close out at high), but curiosity was getting the better of me. Before launching I'd ran 10minutes downwind over the boulder beach with the camera to look at this reef... (you couldn't launch or park near it, spot x ont map)

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For some reason it looks tiny in the pics, but it was getting on double mast high (far more exposed than the bay I sailed first). Anyway, after a couple of hours in the bay, I decided to sail downwind and give it a go. BIG mistake!
I waited for the last wave of a set and rode it in on the shoulder, taking note of all the boulder heads poking out and the huge clump of rock sticking out halfway through the ride. I decided it wasn't really do-able for a proper 'going for it' ride, as getting lipped would have meant obliteration on the inside and the outcrop would mean not being able to stay deep anyway and risking getting caught between it and the green face. Maybe on lower tides (it was getting high) and a more managable swell it would be ok, but it made Gary William look friendly.

So decided to head back up to the bay, which proved a tad tricky as I was now underpowered on my 4m. A big reach out to sea over the huge lumps and back in again left me pretty much where I'd started, and the realization hit home that this was pretty sketchy. Not exactly warm, not exactly many people about, nowhere to come in safely except for half a mile upwind, massive lumps lifting me up and down like an elevator messing with my boardspeed, unsure of the 'drift', dropping wind, Trudie probably having a nap..  er, to be honest I was shitting it a bit! Now I don't mind shitting it a bit, but thank f*** my kit stayed in one piece on those big reaches out to sea (not that it would, but you know!) About an hour later I'd managed to slog back upwind, certainly made me think. I'm sure I could have 'landed' somewhere, but getting stuck miles out if anything broke could have been the end of me.


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Thinking about it, perhaps I'm not the first to sail these breaks afterall! Looks like Fronst Skuta sailed spot z first in 1850... Skaholtsskip nearly made it to the reef in 1602, before Cap Fagnet finally scored the gnarly reef in 1931. Then Puridor Formidor took off way too deep in '42 and landed right on the rocky clump, oouch!
(obviously very sad that a lot of sailors must have met pretty nasty ends on these reefs)


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The reefs from the road up the mountain. Gridavik itself is off the top right, Grindavik headland at the top, the bay (spot z , Hraunsvík) is next down on the far right, the nasty ass reef is the next point down, then another ugly looking reef below that. Check the buildings on the right for scale.

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View left zoomed in from the road. Looks interesting for a surf (bare in mind has 30mph onshore on it) but a long paddle! and lots more inaccesable reefage in the background..

So that was it for getting wet.
Next day we still had plenty of wind and swell, but it was from the South and being a fussy bugger I couldn't find anywhere I instantly wanted to sail, so much to Trudies distain, we spent the day driving round in circles. Obviously it pains me that I missed the last day of wind because of this stupid reason, but at least I know now for next time..   and have some pics.. (refer to map above of the Rekjanes for locations)

Thorli. Icelands most surfed spot. Should have been a goer but looked a bit messed up and I wanted bigger..

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maybe it was bigger than it looked..

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on a windless day...

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This was head high.

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SW corner gnarliness at the SW tip..

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Sandvik. The best beach. Unfortunately faces SW and nestles in the NE corner of a bay, so was a blown out mess..

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Spot Y. This was an absolute bitch to get to in the hire car down a very rocky dirt track. It was probably where I should have sailed, but I didn't, possibly because Trudie couldn't see from the car and I thought we'd never make it back up the track so was quite keen to get the hell out of there before dark. Looks decent though! And no, carrying on down the track doesn't bring you back onto the main road, there's locked gates at the end not 50 meters from beautiful tarmac. Aaarrrrghhhh (another hour of smashing the car up then)

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3 waves at spot y.



Hafnir I think this place has been sailed, but didn't take my fancy, sorry no pic. Looked a bit random wave wise.


Gardur On the NW tip. Looked sailable, but outer shallows seemed to be blocking a lot of the swell, pretty much flat. sorry no pic again. Very exposed to wind.


Grotta Right near home, and apparently often overlooked. Should have had a better look at this spot, but figured more West wind and swell was needed as the reef in the pic was bolt offshore. Should have checked round the corner though.

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So Southerlies perhaps aren't so great unless you have friends to sail with and a 4WD. I should add that I've seen pics of Thorli, Sandvik and some of the other surf spots looking sick, but a cleaner longer period swell and different wind direction needed.

That was it for wind and waves. I guess the lows never materialised anywhere and didn't just 'miss' us, as the swell disappeared altogether bar about 1m at 9seconds. I still did some more scoping though and checked out the Snaefells Peninsula and Vik on the southern tip...


SNAEFELLS PENINSULA

About 2.5hrs drive North of Reykjavik, the Snaefells Peninsula has some beach breaks facing South and slabs near the tip. There may be some potential on it's North side but the sea was total flat calm.

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The mountain at it's tip

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A gnarly looking reef, bit blown out.

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Another graveyard for ships... this beach was littered with rusting hulls.


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An interesting bit of slab, especially as the swell was virtually non existent.


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VIK

Again about 2.5hrs from Reykjavik. I believe Vidar Jenson sailed these shores on his trip with JC. I know that one of the Brit Pro surfers camps out down this way for a few weeks each year too. It kind of looked like a black Chisel beach to me or high tide Hove! but I guess it must break well when there's swell and would work in an Easterly...


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Random sights and scenery....


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The famous Blue Lagoon

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Make your own jokes


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Freestyle lake?

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With heating!!


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Small falls


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Big falls!

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Europe plate one side, America plate the other..


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The Geysir at Geysir...

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The real one.


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Glasier

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Trudie bottom left for scale!


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Highly recommend heading to Iceland for a holiday. Reykjavik's a really cool city (more like a town) with loads of dudey bars and restaurents, pretty chilled and plenty to do. We never made it outside the SW of the country, lots more to explore next time. I might head back when it's colder, do some snowboarding (they have a resort), catch the Northern lights, maybe get luckier with the wind and waves..



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