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In recent years I'd tried a few surfskis but never got around to buying one as I didn't think it would be practical in the UK. When I discovered there was a community not far from home I decided to give it a proper try, so I went to a surfski training location in Portugal.

'Paddle South Portugal' is based in Vila Nova De Milfontes and is run by the highly skilled and experienced surfskiers, Gonçalo and Sara, who are passionate about the sport. They provide expert tuition and make the most of the conditions, not only in Vila Nova but further afield if the conditions dictate.

The town is in a beautiful spot on the northern arm of the Mira river estuary. It's not the easiest place to get to (~2.5 hr drive from Lisbon or faro airport) but that's probably the main reason why it's unspoilt.

Sun's shining, surfs up (in the distance), let's paddle (Gonçalo in the centre).

Every morning we took advantage of the surf on the sandbars at the mouth of the estuary as the tide was flooding. Each day the surf and tide increased in size. In the afternoons we did a variety of activities from technique training to ocean paddling and a trip down the river. (the weather was settled so unfortunately there was no opportunity for a downwind run)

I was trying the GoPro with a bite mount. Video cobbled together from dozens of clips.
Paddle South Portugal is closely associated with Nelo (factory in the north of the country). We started on 520s but after the first day Johann and Andrea switched to a double as they usually paddled one back home. I continued in the 520 which was excellent in the surf. Paddles were Braca, I started with the XI; after a couple of days I tried the IV but was not so happy with it and was glad to swap back to the XI. The kit was in excellent condition and well cared for.

Ocean trip. There was no wind but we stayed offshore as there was a long period swell seen crashing into the cliffs.

Mira river trip.

We stayed at the HS Milfontes Beach hotel. Paddle South Portugal is associated with the hotel and offer a full board package which is excellent value. It's a friendly place, has a commanding view over the estuary and was thoroughly enjoyable.

A walk to the headland reveals a restaurant on a beach...

... with a forest of stone towers.

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