Kiteboarding in Tarifa

So, in May I packed my bags and headed off with my mate Colin, and Buca the dog to Tarifa. Range Rover packed to the roof with my newly acquired kiteboarding kit, we headed off through France towards Tarifa. Making it down to Basque Country, we spent our first night before an early start for Tarifa – the kite and windsurfing centre of Europe.

Arriving late on the Sunday and checking into our apartment, we headed off to meet Sam Guest and the Tantrum Kite Surfing Team for beers and dinner.

The next five days were spent trying to find secluded spots as the wind was blowing at over 40 knots each day, not fun for a beginner.  Despite the normal secluded spots defying all expectations and being windless, the Tantrum team were successful in finding spots 1.5 hours north of Tarifa and a fun afternoon was had by all.

The wind certainly didn’t live up to my expectations though, in total only getting on the water for eight out of the 30 days I was there!

Here’s a quick run-down of the beaches around Tarifa:

Los Lances beach is vast; it stretches over 14 miles and is several hundred metres deep at most points. A river mouth approximately two miles from Tarifa also causes flat water lagoons to form on the beach itself given the right conditions. The beach itself is so big that it is divided by locals into several smaller points (so people know exactly where it is you’re going), the most famous of these being Valdevaqueros and Arte Vida.

Arte Vida is located approximately halfway along Los Lances beach. It has a small point break to its right and the beach curves around gently, creating a great wave on the right-hand side. The water to the left is more open and generally less crowded and makes this a perfect spot when the westerly (Poniente) winds blow.

Right at the end of the beach is Valdevaqueros, this is the only beach in Tarifa itself which works in Easterly wind (Levante). With one of the world’s largest sand dunes and endless curving bay it is an idyllic setting which works in any wind condition. The wind is often stronger here due to thermal effect caused by the heat given off by the sand dune. For this reason this beach is very popular with kite surfers and there are also many bars, hotels and restaurants here when you’re too tired to kite.

Not strictly in Tarifa but still definitely within driving distance is the beach of Caños de Meca. When the Levante is howling in Tarifa, this is the place to go. One of Spain’s premier surf beaches the wind here is often calmer, more constant and with the addition of some swell, can turn this into a truly world-class spot.

Heading the other way up the coast is another fairly unknown spot called Palmones. Divided in two by a river, here you will find flatter waters and calmer conditions when it is blown out in Tarifa. A small flat water lagoon behind the beach is also perfect for practising those latest tricks.

Here’s some Tarifa Bars and Restaurants worth checking out too….

- Vaca Loca is awesome for great steaks

- La Tribu makes great pizza and is really well priced

- Bossa bar and Bar 10 are the two little bars in the old town

- La Cueva for awesome burgers

- Also check out the back streets for some amazing Tapas Restaurants.

I can’t recommend the Tantrum Team highly enough for kite surfing lessons, and also as a great group to hang out with when you can kite surf. Sam the owner and Maria the Centre Manager, along with the other instructor guarantee to make your trip to Tarifa loads of fun even if like me, the wind did not live up to expectations.

On a separate note, after I left the wind blew perfectly for 10 days, so that’s the law of the kiteboarding sod………..

Posted in About Me Tagged Andrew Pearce, Buca, Buca the dog, Kiteboarding, Kitesurfing, Powwownow, Tantrum, tarifa, tarifa holidays, tarifa kitesurfing tips, Tarifa Restaurants |

A Year of Kiteboarding

Firstly apologies for the lack of posts over the last few months, but my time has been filled… well as you’ll see!

I have recently learned to kiteboard, and with a new CEO in place at Powwownow I thought it best to leave him to get on with running the business (or as Simon put it “isn’t it time you took yourself off kiteboarding for a year or two?!”). So I’m taking this opportunity to travel around the world taking in some awesome kiteboarding spots.

Coming Soon: Tarifa from earlier this year……

Posted in About Me Tagged Kiteboarding, Powwownow |

Has the failure of G4S had a negative impact on the private sector?

Yesterday two senior ministers questioned the use of private firms to deliver certain services after the G4S security failures at the recent Olympic Games.

When the recession first hit, the private sector was the first to be named as the go to people to get us out of the situation that the ‘public sector’ had got us into. However as soon as one bad egg doesn’t live up to the expectations set, then we are all tarnished with the same brush and a negative light is shone over us.

I founded and know a lot of well-oiled private sector companies that strive to deliver the best services and products possible. It is a shame that a company that clearly didn’t have the right management in place and ended up with a ‘humiliating shambles’ is being pinned against all private sector companies as a benchmark for what we can deliver.

It’s right that G4S has donated £2.5 million to the armed forces for the impact that their error had on the services, but what about the compensation to the rest of the private sector? The impact that this has had on our sector will always now be pulled into question and it is simply because G4S didn’t plan and think things through properly.

Maybe there needs to more regulations around the private and public sector and the impact of these two working together, or maybe there shouldn’t be so much pressure on the private sector to be delivering ultimately what the public sector should have been all along. What do you think?

Posted in Advice for SMEs Tagged business, Business Delivery, Private Sector, Public Sector |

Entrepreneurs recognised for achievements

Last week saw me attend the 2012 Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards, London and South East finals. I was up for London and South Entrepreneur of the Year 2012 along with Cambian Group, Eco2, Harrison Catering Services and Unfortunately I didn’t win this round, but a worthy winner, Ratheesan Yoganathan of Lebara, went on to be placed into the national awards.

Entrepreneur’s getting ahead in business.

Entrepreneur’s getting ahead in business.

Lebara was a worthy winner of the telecoms section of the awards with one billion users, £750 million revenue and highly profitable. They have given 50% of the shares of their company to other companies with good causes and they currently feed 16,000 underprivileged people around the world everyday. Pretty remarkable!

It is great to see entrepreneurs being recognised for the great contribution they are making to the private sector. I definitely saw a huge amount of success in the room, and to see so many businesses doing well and striving over the past year is really encouraging.

The awards are in their 26th year and they recognise entrepreneurs across the globe. The regional finals were recognising those businesses in the area that have tried to grow a global brand, such as Powwownow. A few stats which I found really interesting were that the regional finalist entrepreneurs had generated more than 63,000 jobs, had grown businesses by 20% since last year and had combined revenues of £18 billion, in spite of tough economic times, which is great to see.

In my opinion there definitely needs to be a shift in the way entrepreneurism is funded and supported in the UK. These awards recognise that there are some great businesses out there that are doing well, but equally there are many that aren’t succeeding as a result of lack of investment, funding and support to start-ups to help during that hard first year.

We absolutely need to encourage more entrepreneurialism in the UK if we ever want to stand a chance at competing with the likes of America in terms of intuitive start-ups. We are slowly getting there and schemes such as the National Loan Guarantee Scheme (NLGS), but if anything the awards only highlighted that if this is the success that we can have without the additional funding and support that is needed – image what we could achieve if we had it?

Posted in Comments Tagged awards, business, entrepreneurs, Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of The Year Awards |

High interest loan company preys on vulnerable businesses

As it is announced this week that Wonga is going to be lending money to small businesses, this surely is damning evidence of the Government’s failure to ensure finance is available for SOHOs and SMEs?  It demonstrates a lack of support in the entrepreneurial private sector to help grow and push us out the recession, as has so many times been promised.

The loan company that has interest rates as high as 4,000%, is now targeting entrepreneurs as bank funding continues to be a struggle to secure. Wonga is quoting that they are “helping out” as a result of the ailing bank and government system, but I can’t help but wonder whether Wonga would be “helping out” if they could only charge 10% interest per annum, I think not! All Wonga are doing is exacerbating the problem and driving businesses into debt making the situation much worse than it currently is.

It will be interesting to see what the Government will have to say on this, and how many businesses are in such a desperate situation that they would consider taking out one of these loans!

Business owners, entrepreneurs, readers, please leave your comments below about how your business is doing in the economy and whether you would consider taking out one of these loans if your business is struggling.

Posted in Opinions Tagged bank loans, business, Government, money, recession, small business |

The really bad, pretty good & the really rather strange: 2012’s Budget

Broadcast earlier today, this year’s annual budget announcement brings about as many concerns as it does reasons to be cheerful. One of the most frightening facts revealed concerned unemployment; the one place the word growth isn’t welcome around. Expected to continue to increasing throughout the year, it was very disappointing to hear, especially since January alone, unemployment has risen by 28,000, taking the national total to 2.67 million. The chancellor tried to mask the facts impact by announcing his own silver lining (”It will peak at [a mere] 8.7%”), but this will do little to reassure those out of work. A huge shame, I’m sure you’ll all agree.

All doom and gloom I thought. Until I heard about the tax credits for video game, animation and TV production companies that is. Personally, seeing so many creative tech companies based overseas drives me mad. I’ve long said that if we want to keep up and compete on a truly global level, then the UK has to incentivise businesses such as these to stay in the UK. These industries make up a large percentage of GDP and I honestly believe they will continue to make up more and more in the future.

Addressing his audience, Chancellor George Osborne said that the impact of the sovereign debt crisis has been “significant”, but unusually the economy has “carried a little more momentum into the new year than previously anticipated”. Going on further, he announced two other interesting facts: Borrowing this year is to come in at £126bn, down from November forecast of £127bn. And also, “In total, borrowing is £11bn less than I forecast in the autumn and this will be used to pay down debt”. Two ticks in the positives box there.

But then it got even better. “Funding for faster broadband in UK’s 10 largest cities”, I heard. This sounded good to me, especially on hearing that London in particular will receive up to £25M to install faster internet connections for 750,000 Londoners and more than 120,000 businesses. This, alongside the £15M boost for cycling safety in the Capital made me think things were looking up.

And I was right. The next thing to be said was that the government is investigating the idea of enterprise loans for young people to start their own businesses, along the lines of university loans. Something that I have longed championed.  Finally!

….But then came the rather unnecessary; a declaration that everyone in the country will receive a personal tax statement which will explain exactly how your taxation is spent. Conservative MP Ben Gummer, who has championed the idea of personal statements, said: “Few of us would part with more than a few pence without a record of how it was spent. From supermarket receipts to electricity bills, we expect an itemised breakdown of where our money goes. Just as we are under an obligation to pay tax, the Government should be obliged to tell us how it spends our money. It is a simple idea that could change the way we do politics. For the first time people will get a real feel for the relative distribution of their taxes?”  ….Only, once it’s gone it’s gone, isn’t it?

This is how your proposed personal tax statement might look: unnecessary

This is how your proposed personal tax statement might look: unnecessary

I for one wouldn’t be prepared to pay more tax under the provision I knew it was going to help build a new lamp post or signs on a particular road. The idea to me just seems like a further waste of time and money. However, that said, I’d be very interested to know what you all think – not just of personal statements – but of the budget in general.

Businessmen/women, entrepreneurs, casual readers, please leave your thoughts below about how the budget will affect you.

Posted in Advice for SMEs Tagged 2012, broadband, Budget, business, Chancellor, Cuts, Economy, entrepreneurs, funding, Loans, Osborne, Pariment, Savings, UK |