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Catching up with Simon Morgan, the founder of Wildwind Holidays

by Mark Jardine on 26 Jun 2016
Cat sailing on a Wildwind Holiday WildWind
It was an absolute pleasure to catch up recently with Simon Morgan, founder of Wildwind Holidays. As many of you will know the Jardine / Morgan relationship goes back generations with Simon's father Tony racing with Keith Musto against my father and uncle, Stuart and Adrian back in the early 60's, mainly in the Flying Dutchman fleet.

At that time Tony and Keith were based at Thorpe Bay Yacht Club, near where Yachts and Yachting magazine's offices were based. Now, after many years of living in Greece, Simon (and his lovely wife, Varvara) have settled in Lymington where their two young children are now at school and the circle is somewhat completed!

Over a glass or two at my local, Simon explained some of the latest goings on Wildwind including one thing that I already did know; that Wildwind now sponsor the Lymington Town Wednesday evening series, so if you live locally why not join in?

Wildwind started back in 1987 when Simon got fed up of his job in London, and instead of spending every spare windy moment rushing off to sail on the South coast, he decided to take a three month sabbatical and ended up towing his trusty plum crazy Hobie 16 (aka windsurfer with two masts according to Greek customs) behind a VW bus down to a village called Vassiliki on the Greek island of Lefkas – purely as his secretary had told him that it was a really windy spot! The rest, in a way, is history; when Simon first travelled to Vassiliki there was only a dirt road for the last 20 miles whereas now Vassiliki is known as one of Europe's top spots for sailing and windsurfing – and yet, metalled road notwithstanding, has lost little of its island nature and charm.

Today if you visit Wildwind in Vassiliki you'll find some 70 plus boats of all shapes and sizes ranged along the beach, from RS Teras for beginners, to RS800's and 49ers on the dinghy front, and catamarans from the youth Hobie Dragoon right through to Tornado. This year two Laser foilers have been added to the fleet, so far top speed recorded is 19.7 knots but the team are hoping to break the 20 kt barrier shortly. Of course, Vassiliki is pretty much a perfect spot for speed sailing as the afternoon's cross-shore wind fills across the bay with hardly any chop on most days.

Simon tells me that the centre is already pretty much booked up for all of July and August, and that he doesn't have any plans for expansion; he just wants Wildwind to be known as the Number One beach based holiday sailing centre in the world and is looking just to improve what is already an amazing product year on year - next year for example Wildwind plan a foiling catamaran to add to the fleet too!

Though the 'full-on' sailing programme in Vassiliki might be full, Simon and the Wildwind team have just launched their Wildwind Adventures' programme in Vassiliki – with the promise of 'a different adventure every day'. This holiday is really aimed at people who'd like to try out a whole range of watersports activities while on holiday, and guests will get a chance to experience sailing, windsurfing, scuba-diving, paddle-boarding, sea-kayaking and a unique Sea Safari touring the local islands and stopping for snorkeling and swimming. And, of course, there's an excellent social life in Vassiliki as I can attest from my holiday out there too many years ago.

There's also Wildwind's sister company, Healthy Options to consider. Healthy Options was an idea dreamed up by Simon's better half who is more interested in yoga, Pilates and fitness (and just chilling by the pool, Simon says) than she is going sailing. Shortly after they got married, in a full on 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding' style occasion in Vassiliki's village church, the healthy options project was born, and has proved so successful that a second centre has just been opened on the Greek mainland. Simon says that Healthy Options is probably most easily defined by what it is not – it is not a retreat, nor a boot camp, more a holiday for anyone who wants a healthy styled holiday without forgetting that it's a holiday.

If that wasn't enough, Simon teamed up with fellow sailing addict Klaus Gerasch three years ago, to create Wildwind Mauritius, which Simon describes as the best possible way of escaping the British winter he could think of. Though it's a lengthy flight the sense of utter relaxedness, not to mention the tropical weather, the beautiful azure seas 1000km from the next landmass, the sheer friendliness of local people just makes Mauritius an absolutely glorious destination.

Wildwind offer both a Sailing and Adventures programme with their base at the Coral Azur hotel in the north west of the island – and as well as sailing there are countless adventures to be had such as swimming with dolphins, undersea scooters, day sail-aways with the Wildwind fleet to uninhabited offshore islands, exploring the oldest botanical gardens in the Southern hemisphere and the rain forest, unbelievable scuba-diving; there really is too much to take in one visit.

Wildwind websites:

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