Learn to sail in Cyprus

Last updated 9th July 2019

Anassa Hotel

Built on a hillside above Chrysochou Bay, on the westerly Akamas Peninsula is Anassa Hotel, which has just been awarded official Royal Yachting Association (RYA) accreditation for family sailing courses. It was wonderful to enjoy breakfast high up in the Amphora restaurant, sitting under olive trees with plates piled with homemade bread and local honey flavoured with rosemary, while the kids tucked into pancakes and Nutella.

We took a dip in the shimmering infinity pool, with its waterfalls and classy swim-up bar – a great place to enjoy a milkshake. We bagged four comfortable loungers on the pristine lawns around the pools, with vast white square umbrellas to shield us from the sun. After a Ping-Pong tournament played on tables shaded by fir trees, right next to a cute playground, it was time to wend our way down stone steps and wooden slatted walkways, through vibrant green bamboo, to Latchi Watersports’ outpost on the beach for our first sailing lesson.

Back to school

We were met by the very affable Robbie Nixon, a young man from Northern Ireland, ready to teach us the basics. Under its shady awning, Latchi Watersports has a laidback air of camaraderie, but always a professional one, so I had no worries about the safety of my kids, especially once Robbie informed us he began sailing aged seven, and was a Team GB Junior sailor and coached for the Junior Irish team.

He also reassured us that Chrysochou Bay has good offshore winds and no big waves, making it perfect for teaching. He did, though, also mention the gusts that sweep down through the valleys – obviously the culprit in our capsize (and NOT our useless rudder skills…).

We were attempting a YHA Level one course, which means learning to sail a boat yourself with an instructor on board, taken over four two-hour sessions, which actually turned into three three-hour sessions. It all felt very organic, and Robbie went with the flow of how we were faring. He told us the Laser Bahia we were going to use has a high boom, making it great for kids, as it’s above head height when they are sitting on the side of the boat, so no helmets are necessary.

Setting sail

Robbie pushed the boat into the water and instructed us not to stand in front of it as it’s being shoved in by the waves, as you can get a nasty bump. We all clambered in safely and positioned ourselves on the side of the boat with our feet levered under the straps in the bow so we could lean back to balance the boat. For me, this is one of the most fun parts of sailing, leaning right back over the water and feeling your weight stabilising the boat against the wind, the water rushing by as you catch the breeze.

Robbie let us all steer with the rudder. Then it happened. As we were whistling out towards Aphrodite’s Rock, that one powerful gust came whistling down from the valleys, catching our mainsail just as we were turning, and over we went. My main concern was that the hull would trap us, but this clever Bahia has a float at the top of the sail to stop the boat tipping upside down. We all cleared the hull and bobbed around in our lifejackets. Robbie’s skill meant he was able to right the boat in the water, as we were picked up by speedboat and whisked back to shore, all game to come back for more the next day. Robbie was un-fazed by the incident, of course, and told us we would have had to capsize anyway as part of the training, so we’d actually ticked off a major part of it!

More for kids

Apart from the sailing, highlights of the week included a Cypriot barbecue in the Anassa’s idyllic village square by a pretty Byzantine chapel. As staff set up wooden tables with wildflowers in jam jars, I assumed they were preparing a wedding reception; such was the attention to detail.

I spoke to one of the owners, Natasha, who is totally tuned into what families need on holiday: ‘The key is to view the child as a guest in their own right,’ she told me. The Anassa keeps its five-star standards high, and kids are a big part of this. Natasha has introduced music classes for children, with activities such as rhythmic reading games and musical improvisation. This is all in addition to the very comprehensive Explorers kids’ clubs.

Special reader offer

A special offer for our readers is provided by Elegant Resorts: The offer includes: a seven nights stay from £7,195 per family–a saving of  £2,235: based on two adults and two children under 12 sharing two Studio Suites on a half-board basis. Includes flights from Gatwick with British Airways and transfers. Offer valid from 1 July-31 October 2015

Sailing Lessons: A Family Sailing Course at Anassa costs from £245 per person, based on four people taking part.

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