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THE WIND: HISTORY, MYTHS AND LEGENDS

Updated: Sep 1, 2021


THE WIND: THE DRIVING FORCE OF CIVILISATIONS

The wind has been part of people's lives since the beginning of history. He was an ally on the great voyages and in the search of new and unexplored places, as the wind was the main engine of the ships. From the Phoenicians to the Vikings, all major civilizations had their own fleet and they used it to conquer the rest of the world. The American continent is a good example. It wouldn't have been discovered so early if it weren't for the strong and constant trade winds and the great minds who knew how to take advantage of them. We also use the wind to move our mills: initially to grind wheat for flour production and today as an environmentally friendly source of energy in the form of wind power.


But sometimes the wind also becomes an enemy to us humans. When it blows with the force of hurricanes and sweeps away everything that we have built with great effort. Or it prevents us from going out to sea to catch fish and seafood that are essential for our livelihood.


At Tarifa Spin Out we know how to get the best out of the wind. We take advantage of the calm seas and the light wind days to learn to windsurf or to start with one of the new disciplines such as Wing Foil and Windsurf Foil. While the ones that have already mastered windsurf, enjoy the moderate and strong wind. We have plenty of equipment suitable for all levels from beginners to wave and freestyle surfers. Fun is definitely guaranteed!



WHERE DOES THE WIND COME FROM? THE WIND ROSE

Who were the first to name the winds? Currently, many consider Malta as the "birthplace of the winds". Many believe that the names of the winds refer to the places where the wind comes from in relation to the island's coordinates: Sirocco comes from Syria, Libeccio from Libya, Gregale from Greece and so on.


However, already in ancient Greece Homer and Aristotle named the winds in their stories after gods. In addition, 3000 years ago, neither Syria, Libya nor Greece were known under their current names. We therefore propose another theory. One that’s more coherent with our zeitgeist and that relates to the observation of the sky and its stars. Sirius received its name because it comes from the direction of the star Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky and also known as "the Dog Star" or " the scorching or sparkling one”; Libeccio took its name in reference to the wind god Lips, who is often depicted holding the stern of a ship; the Gregale comes from the wind god Graecus, the son of Zeus and Pandora. Likely the Mediterranean countries then obtained their current names following these ancient naming traditions as used for the winds.


The prevailing winds in Tarifa are the Levante (east) and the Poniente (west) winds. They have also been named after a star — the most important one for us: the Sun. Levante blows from where the sun rises and Poniente from where the sun sets.


KNOWING HOW TO READ THE CHARTS

Whether we are talking about Beaufort, knots or meters per second, we need more information than only the forecast to know what wind we will have on a given day. A forecast is created on the basis of statistical models that allow us to recognize a certain repetition in the "behavior" of the winds. There are many different models that often do not match one hundred percent because they are developed in different ways. For example, if we take a look at Windguru (undoubtedly the most widely used forecast service in Tarifa), we find the following ones:

- GFS (Global Forecast System): An American model based on satellite images; since it’s a global model, it covers the entire planet.

- WRF (Weather Research and Forecasting): A numerical computer model that provides data ranging from a few meters to kilometers. In Europe, the data comes from buoys that are strategically positioned at certain distances from the coast and continuously transmit data; it covers almost all of Europe and the Mediterranean Sea, as well as the Canary Islands, Madeira and the oceanic part of the Moroccan coast.

- ICON (ICOsahedral Nonhydrostatic general circulation model): A relatively new model from the German Meteorological Service.

- HIRLAM (HIgh Resolution Limited Area Model): A numerical short-range weather forecasting system with a grid resolution and based on measurements and statistical elaborations of the state of the atmosphere at a given initial point in time.

- ZEPHYR: A hybrid model based on decades of statistical data and satellite observations.


However, no model can guarantee that the expected wind will occur with the predicted intensity and at the specified time. The conditions are also influenced by many other factors, for example, clouds or local thermal phenomena, which are not or cannot always be taken into account in the models. Hence, every prediction is in need of interpretation. Because of this, it’s important to rely on the experience of the locals. They’ve spent many days, weeks or even years observing the sea and waiting for wind, so that they have the best picture of ​​what will actually happen (or not).


At Tarifa Spin Out we not only have a Windguru Station (an anemometer for recording the wind direction and intensity as well as the gusts in real time), but we also inform our customers on the current conditions and their most likely development. We “predict” whether the wind could increase or decrease more than expected. This enables us to recommend the most suitable equipment for surfing on a specific day or time of day. And ... we almost always get it right! (It’s not us who say it, but our customers 😊).



TARIFA: THE MECCA OF THE WIND

It’s no coincidence that Tarifa is an appreciated spot for water sports and known all over the world. It’s so famous that many consider it the Mecca of the wind. We have the luck that almost every day of the year either the Poniente or the Levante blow with varying intensities that range from 2-3 to 8-9 Bft. Whereby days with absolute calm are very rare.


At Tarifa Spin Out we are prepared for all local conditions. In our "arsenal" we have, in addition to beginner and learning material, sails between 2.7 and 8.2 m2 and boards from 67 lt wave to 145 lt freeride. You'll never be stuck on land! Should the wind not really want to pick up, we also have paddle boards available so that you can still enjoy the water and do some sport while waiting for the wind.


CURIOSITIES ABOUT THE WIND

As in all parts of the world, we also have our own myths and legends in Tarifa. And of course these include the wind and come from folk wisdom and statistics of the area ... But are they also true?


- BEES PREDICT THE WIND: TRUE. Bees are not only very intelligent animals, they are also essential for our ecosystem. Every year they study the situation very carefully to decide where to build their nests to raise the next generation. If they foresee that the Levante will prevail in the current year, they’ll place their nests on the leeward side of the bushes — that’s to the west — in order to be as protected as possible from the wind. If they predict that the Poniente will be more likely during that year, they’ll build their nests on the opposite side — on the eastern side. Nature is very wise!


- THE THERMAL WIND:

. IS A LOCAL PHENOMENON: TRUE. The Valdevaqueros thermal wind really exists ... And it only exists in Valdevaqueros! This phenomenon arises in a similar way as in the great lakes. The dune (which was formed by erosion and the build up of sand because of the Levante) can store a great deal of heat. The additional temperature difference between day and night leads to the formation of local thermal winds. It usually picks up around 1 or 2 p.m. and lasts until sunset or around 6:30 or 7 p.m.

. IS A WEAK WIND: FALSE. Yes, there are days when we have to get out the "heavy artillery": the 8-meter sails. But this is not always the case! The thermal wind can easily reach 4-5 Bft and, on the best days, it even reaches force 6. We often surf with sails between 4.5 and 6.5 m2 with this wind, obviously depending on the day and the moment.

. IF IT STARTS EARLY, IT STOPS EARLY: TRUE. The thermal wind does not really appear in the forecasts, but it can be "predicted" through interpretation. However, it's almost impossible to know exactly when it will start and how strong it will get. On some days it starts at 12.30 p.m., on other days we have to wait until 3 or 4 p.m. for it to get strong enough. Then it’s best to be near the station to be ready to hit the water as soon as the flags start moving. Because usually, as the popular wisdom from Tarifa says, if the thermal wind starts early, it also stops early.


- THE LEVANTE:

. IS ONLY FOR ADVANCED SURFERS: FALSE. The Levante is known to be a very strong wind, but that's not always the case. As a rule — with a few exceptions — the Levante is strong or even very strong, especially on the first two days of the Levantera. But then the intensity gradually decreases. This weaker side wind together with the mostly flat water offers ideal conditions not only for funboards, but also for beginners and advanced windsurfers.

. IS A GUSTY WIND: FALSE. As happens with all winds on Earth, a very strong wind can also be a bit gusty. The stronger the Levante, the greater the difference between wind and gust. But that's not always true, because when the Levante blows moderately or gently, it’s usually very constant and pleasant. It's only gusty, like everywhere else in the world, when the weather is unstable, for example due to storms or weather disturbances passing near Tarifa towards northern Spain and Europe.

. OF SAN JUAN STAYS ALL SUMMER: TRUE. When the Levante blows on San Juan (Midsummer Night), it will be the prevailing wind during that summer. Statistics confirm it!

. STARTING ON A FULL MOON STAYS THE ENTIRE MONTH: TRUE. Our statistics show that every time the Levante begins on a full moon night, it stays for the whole month... Until the next full moon!

. MAKES ONE “INSANE”: TRUE. Not everyone is equally affected, but it’s true that many of us suffer from a "Levante head". This feeling arises due to the high air pressure difference that appears when changing from Poniente to Levante. This shows itself in a feeling of heaviness, a lack of energy and sometimes as a headache ... and it even shows as a bad mood!

. THE CABALGATA BRINGS THE LEVANTE: TRUE. There's no scientific explanation for it, but it happens every year. On the first Sunday in September, when the worshippers on horseback and on foot carry the statue of the Virgen de la Luz (patron saint of Tarifa) from their shrine to the church, the Levante blows with full force. Come visit us and you’ll see it with your own eyes!


Do you know any other legend or curiosity about the wind in Tarifa that we forgot in this post? Email us at info@tarifaspinout.com and we’ll add it.




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