If you are a fan of windsurfing you will always remember Malcesine – maybe it's not as windy in the afternoons as Torbole but it offers more variable and interesting conditions: the south wind (Ora) is a little lighter and more constant than the morning wind and ideal for beginners and improvers, and the morning wind which blows hard from the north (Pelèr) and, growing stronger as it heads south along the northern third of the Lake, creates the best windsurfing conditions at Malcesine.
A typical summer's day's windsurfing starts at dawn as, in fact, the thermal effect of the sun increases the strength of the northerly Pelèr. Without any doubt, the best place for morning windsurfing is the parking place at Loc. Retelino, 1km to the north of Malcesine. Here you will find ample parking and a good rigging ground. Normally, the Pelèr blows for about 4 hours with an average 20/25 knots and the kit most used for this is freestyle or freestyle/wave boards of between 90 and 110 litres volume with sails of between 4.5 and 5.5 square metres. Sometimes the normal North wind is increased by summer storms and can reach 35/40 knots. In these cases, you would be well advised to go further south of Malcesine to Assenza, opposite the Trimelone island, where the wind creates good waves where you can do jumps and more complex freestyle manoeuvres.
If, however, you are looking for somewhere to learn or improve your techniques, then the afternoon is the time for you. The Ora blows evenly on fair weather days through spring and summer and you will find the best place to enjoy the Ora in the village of Navene to the north of Malcesine where the wind blows between 10 and 20 knots. Here it is normal to see freeride boards of around 120 litres being used together with sails in the region of 7 square metres.
There are many windsurfing schools, all with qualified instructors ready to help you with learning and rental, from beginner's courses to advanced techniques for more expert sailors.
For those not wishing to participate but to enjoy watching especially well performed freestyle manoeuvres, then you shouldn't miss the Shaka Bump and Jump Contest. This unique competition takes place on the waters between the towns of Torbole and Malcesine. A large water taxi filled with tourists, photographers and jury goes up and down the lake creating a wave on which around 40 athletes challenge each other to create the best executed and most radical manoeuvres: Forward loop, back loop, ponch, shaka, and air flaka are some of the manoeuvres that the windsurfers try each time the boat passes.
What more can I say? Have fun!
Speed sailing is a discipline that exercises a great fascination in the world of windsurfing: People always have an innate curiosity in dangerous sports but also in the breaking of records by trained athletes. In fact, speed sailing doesn't allow any room for free expression in an athlete's windsurfing, but concentrates solely on someone's ability to achieve their fastest speed on the water using sail power. For these reasons, for the inherent risks and the fact that those who participate are considered outside mainstream windsurfing, speed sailors are part of a small friendly club where rivalry and jealousy are rarely seen.
Speed sailing generates strong feelings: everything is taken to extremes to get the best sail/wind and board/fin balances. You can see these extremes in the kit used for speed sailing – maximum sail size to minimum board/fin size, meaning maximum skill and control needed by the sailors.
The general perception is that speed sailing takes place only in the legendary Sainte Maries de la Mer in France. In truth, the world cup takes place on the open sea, obviously with the flattest water possible. The rule is that the race can only take place where it is possible to return to the start by timed sailing on the sea, without needing to walk or to use motorised transport. The race is to complete an accurately measured course (marked by flags on the shore and buoys on the water) in as little time as possible. The length of the course can vary between 250m, 500m (the traditional "run") and a nautical mile (1852m).
Lake Garda doesn't offer itself as an obviously ideal place for speed sailing but it is a fabulous arena to train in for professionals and amateurs alike. In recent years, the use of GPS and data that can be downloaded to a PC have raised the understanding of this sport and made training easier and more accessible to windsurfers in general. However, to go out speed sailing in a morning Pelèr, powered up to the maximum and concentrating only on your performance creates a fantastic synergie between body and mind.
In the waters off Malcesine, you can be as perfectionist as you like, looking for the best conditions to train in. The waves formed by the wind (chop) which are nearly always present in these waters make every session different and valuable. You will definitely need to use slalom gear with cambered sails which will rarely be less than 5.8m and boards of between 90 and 120l. Fins should be between 30 and 42cm long depending upon the wind and need to produce enough force on the choppy lake to power your way upwind (that is... if you don't want to end up like most kiters who come back to the beach several kilometers down wind of where they started!).