Rare sightings amidst the sails
Between October and December the sea of Leuca belongs entirely to yachting enthusiasts and fish. Free from the attentions of summer tourists, the fish come out of their hiding places to get spotted by the lucky few.
At this time of year regattas rule off-shore between Otranto and Leuca and although the diary is already choc-a-block with events, more get added on an almost daily basis. Sailing is one of man’s most ancient arts and one of our greatest technical discoveries, exploiting wind power to move across the water. It’s at its best in the blue waters of Salento.
The sight of dozens of triangular blue and white sails of all sizes attached to their silvery hulls – all reflected in the water is something loved by adults and children alike.
The ‘Piú vela per tutti’ – ‘More Sailing For All’ – championship kicked off short time ago and will continue all winter. It’s now in its 9th year. There are lots of sailing clubs for yacht lovers here so plenty of people take part, both locals and visitors. On 2 March yacht crews will set out from Otranto to compete on the often rough seas with huge swells. But between now and March, there are lots of other regattas to enjoy, not only in Otranto but also in San Foca and Tricase, for example.
Given our enduring love of sailing in these parts, the Smarè di Leuca sailing club organises the Derive championship, which runs until February, against the splendid backdrop of Ugento, Torre San Giovanni and Leuca; while until December 17th the Leuca coast will stage its annual “Winter Sailing Championship”, which attracts a good 35 boats from all over the south of Italy.
Steering a boat, battling against the elements and the strong currents all has a certain heroic charm reminiscent of classical odyssey adventures, where heroes go on quests for the unattainable, or to rescue far-off princesses or simply to seek the glory that’s only reserved for champions.
If you’ve never been sailing before, Leuca is a great place to start. In addition to regattas for the true athletes, which you can watch with your binoculars, there are lots of clubs and sailing associations that organise courses for all ages. There are also lots of boat trips available to discover the many treasures of the sea, and its wonderful caves and grottoes.
Sunken in the waters at the foot of Leuca’s lighthouse and only visible on a clear day when the sea is calm, hides a huge statue of the Madonna, now sharing the seabed with colonies of starfish.
Recently, there have been sightings of a few specimens of ocean sunfish by local fishermen. Similar in appearance to a shark these fish only inhabit the cleanest waters. Who knows, you might be lucky enough to spot them, too? There are certainly lots of surprises in the waters of the Finibus Terrae: from precious shrimp, and the ‘paranza’ – a favourite for frying; from dolphins often seen swimming alongside the boats, chattering away, moray eel and mackerel.
After all the wind and open expanses of the sea, how lovely to return to the Montirò Hotel, happy to welcome you, nestled among its olive trees, reconciling land and sea.