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Downwind in Dahab

1: Bedouin, camels and grass

Fat Face’s ‘Downwind Dahab’ sounded like just the thing to boost my va-va voom with some early season sunshine in May, and with Olympic cat sailor Hugh Styles and windsurfing legend John Hibbard on the invite list, it also looked like a good week to get some top level training.

Fat Face had teamed up with Neilson for a week’s trip to the new watersports club in Dahab, Egypt. The aim of the week was to introduce those interested to different sports available at the centre using the instructors supported by four specialist Fat Face Team Riders; John Hibbard (windsurfing), Hugh Styles (dinghy sailing), Neal Gent (kitesurfing) and James Heraty (mountain biking). With a week for everyone to learn the basics, the Team Riders would also compete against one another with teams of guests picked out of a hat, for the overall ‘Downwind in Dahab’ title. With sailing, windsurfing, kitesurfing and mountain biking legs, it was going to be an interesting challenge...

Dahab is a five-hour flight from my home country and we didn’t arrive until Monday evening. It was my first visit to Egypt, and with a spate of bombings hitting the news the fortnight before our departure, I was a little apprehensive. I needn’t have worried, our welcome was all the warmer and we felt very safe all week.

Security was, understandably, tight and as our coach negotiated the 1.5-hour transfer from Sharm el Sheikh through mountainous desert, it felt very different from anywhere I had been before. I’d read that the area was home to the tent-dwelling Bedouin, and it seemed a very magical place as we passed the dim glimmer of the odd light amongst the hills.

The area is naturally dry and barren… until you reach the hotel. There lush lawns, trees and shrubs are carefully tended by the hotel staff. The hotel is arranged with a central restaurant, bar and reception area, and the rooms in an apartment-type arrangement amongst the grounds. The beach is just a short walk away through the gardens and my week started with a briefing by centre manager Toby who ran through the centre and sailing area as well as the format for those involved in the Fat Face event.

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Our first few hours were spent learning to control the spinnaker, working in pairs

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