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Learning how to sail, windsurf or kitesurf

Water and wind sports in Malcesine

Why Malcesine is so renowned for water sports? What makes Malcesine the perfect place to learn how to go sailing, windsurfing, or kitesurfing?

We asked Heinz Stickl many useful things to know to be ready for a course in Malcesine.

How did you first come to Lake Garda and why did you choose Malcesine?

I knew Lake Garda and Malcesine because I used to take part to regattas here, then in 1976, at the age of 24, I opened the first Italian windsurf school. I travelled all around the Lake looking for the best place for a sailing and windsurf centre.
For me, the main point is not the wind but having a sheltered place to teach the sport basics for as much time as possible during the day: this is the reason why I choose Val di Sogno.
I started with 4 windsurf boards and, after a few years, I had more than 100 boards.

Why is Malcesine so renowned for water and wind sports?

I visited many places in the World during the regattas, but Lake Garda is absolutely the best.

The wind is guaranteed in Malcesine, when the weather is fine, you have wind every day. Even if the weather is bad for a whole week, it is still possible to be out: long rainy period or absence of wind almost never happens.

The medium wind of Malcesine offers the perfect conditions for windsurfing, kitesurfing as well as sailing.

There is also a strong wind: the famous Pelèr, you just have to wake up earlier in the morning.

When is the right time to start?

You can start to go windsurfing or sailing at 6, while you need to start at 13/14 years of age for kitesurf.
The oldest customer I have had who learnt to go kitesurfing was 74.

There is no age limit to start, you just need the desire to learn something new.

Are these sports dangerous?

It is not dangerous if someone from the schools staff who knows the lake and the weather takes care of you. Nothing bad ever happened at the school in 40 years time, just some small injuries.

Is a specific physical training needed for these sports?

Having practiced a bit of sport would be preferable.
People with a sedentary lifestyle have more difficulties, you need a good sense of balance and know your body well.

It also depend on the level you want to acquire; some of my customers keep coming to my school and, after 30 years, they still choose the same course just to be followed by an instructor. They have an intermediate level and this will not change but they are happy as they are not alone and they feel safe.

Which is the best boat for a beginner?

Six/eight years old kids start on an optimist. Kids learn quicky and there is no reason to keep them on an optimist for too much time, it is preferable to choose a Feva Rs or a Mini Bic or a catamaran for children immediately after the optimist.

Why so many people like the catamaran?

Because it is fast.
Learning the technique well is fundamental not to capsize over and over again. The more you get older the more you get faster, you learn how to use a genaker, to go on a boat by yourself and athletic people love that. But there are also slower boats, to sail slowly, it just depends on what you like and want to learn.

How many lessons are needed to sail alone?

A week: in a week everyone can learn how to go, the maneuvers, how to lay up. You need 4/5 days for kitesurfing.
After a little theory, in just three hours practice a day with an instructor, you can sail by yourself and have fun.

We use a radio for our teaching: the instructor can correct immediately during the lesson and this allows the learner to improve quicker.

Is taking a licence mandatory at the end of the course?

The licence is internationally valid and it is needed to rent the equipment. It's a questionnaire to fill in at the end of the course. The practical part is assessed by the instructor, there is no external board.

What is needed to carry along for the course?

A sun screen lotion, a swim suit, a towel and the desire of having fun. All the rest is made available by the schools.

3 suggestions for those who want to start.

  • Desire to learn
  • A basic physical training
  • Not being afraid of water or depth.