The history of the club:
Most of the clubs and schools we visit to make a club report are being run by the owner who is also the head coach of the place. This is not very astonishing because most of us waterskiers, be it professionals or recreational, simply love the sport and running a waterski school at a perfect location is a thing many of us would like to do.
This is exactly what happened to the Azarujinha family, Portuguese waterski enthusiasts, a couple of years ago. They skied with their family on a large lake in Portugal. Their kids Jaime and Ines got better all the time and they where faced with the problem how to offer them better training conditions. Fortunately for us, they decided not to send their kids to Florida but to build their own club at Alentejo.
The location: When you drive to the club, you will probably believe that you are completely lost until you finally see the club. The road worsens and instead of going down, where you would normally expect a lake, it seems to go up all the time.
But when you finally see the lake you will understand. The ski club of Alentejo (or ski clube do Alentejo how the Portuguese say) lake is located on a manmade water reservoir for the local agriculture. Situated above the nearby village and roads, it can’t be seen until you mount the last 20 meters just before the dam.
On the image above, you can see a red X located on the right hand side. Just above this point is the road access where you enter the area. The dirt road leading from the entry point has been built on the top of the dam and gives access to the club area in the middle of the image.
This panorama shot has been taken from a series of 10 images from the X position. On the left hand side you can see the club house and the first slalom course. The slalom course two is just opposite of the viewpoint while course number three is hidden behind a hill.
The club area:
To host the club area, Jaime has built a small island. On this island, there is the clubhouse with a bar, sofas and a television. Another building hosts the toilets, changing rooms and a shower. The last two buildings (located on the right hand side of the tents on the next image) serve as storage rooms for skis and equipment.
Over the years, the owner has installed more and more recreational extras to make the club a more enjoyable place to stay. Today, there is a swimming pool, a volleyball area, canoes and various tents to protect you from the sun. This is especially good if you want to stay there with your family or non-skiing friends.
While driving down the dirt road towards the club, you may think that nature must have made this place for waterskiing and taking waterski pictures. If you know other manmade lakes, you probably know that they almost always look like what they have been built for. Rectangular waterfields planted into the landscape. At Alentejo it is just the other way around. The lake is embedded in the hilly landscape and offers two lagoon like arms that are large enough to host the slalom courses one and three. Especially course number two is very well sheltered from the wind. All courses are equipped with the Perfect Pass speed control system.
Fortunately, there is only one boat on the lake and you can pick one of the three courses depending on the wind conditions. The whole lake is reserved for waterskiing only.
The pictures above and below have been taken from the hilltop opposite of the club. Above, you see the beginning of slalom course number three on the left hand side and the complete course number two on the right hand side. Well, the buoys are to small to be seen but I guess you can figure out where the course should be 🙂
If you turn 180 degrees from the last position, you can see the club area and the other lagoon with course number one. The next image starts where the last one ended on the right hand side. The end of the course is just left to the tree on the left side. You can see that the lagoon continues to the right. That is the place where the boat driver will drop you after your course run. You may even spot the boat on the image. (Remember that you can click on the images to load a larger version.)
The images should give you a good impression of how beautiful the place is. I have seen a lot of waterski places around the world but no place came close to this regarding the landscape. If you plan to go to Alentejo to take pictures, be aware that the vegetation around the lake changes drastically between the seasons. Better ask Jaime before you plan your trip.
Klaus Stephan, a German waterskier in course number one
Thomas Gustafson in front of the lake and in course number three
The surroundings of the club:
The waterski club is a one hour car drive from the airport and city of Lissabon. After you leave the city and cross the bridge, the landscape changes. Wide planes with cork trees are characteristic for the aerea. To us, it was quite astonishing not to see dense forests as we are used to but single trees standing separated from each other. The following picture is typical for what you see when you come closer to the club and hotel.
A typical tourist thing you may probably do is to jump out of the car to take a picture when you see the first stork. We did, but after one day, we realised that there must be thousands of stork living in the area. I even took a picture of a skier in the course with a stork flying right above.
Where to stay: Monte dos Arneiros:
The area around the ski club has not much to offer when it comes to choosing a place to stay. Fortunately there is the hotel “Monte dos Arneiros” about 9 km from the club. The hotel has been built from an old farm with several buildings. Some of the buildings host hotel rooms while others host the dining room and recreational facilities. The hotel rooms are nice and clean but unfortunately a bit loud due to the insufficent insulation between the rooms.
On the picture above on the left, you can see the entrance gates of the hotel area and a part of the short dirt track that connects the hotel with the road. The hotel is also equipped with a swimming pool with a great view.
This image shows the building where most of the rooms are located. Each room has its own terrace. The hotel area is located on top of a hill and offers a nice view.
This 360 degree shot has been taken from a viewpoint above the hotel.
The building on the right can host larger groups of up to 15 people. A nice option for a ski club training camp.
The building that hosts the dining room offers a superb view due to the panorama windows. There is also a bar, a snooker table and even a fully equipped cinema for the guests.
Hint: Close to the hotel of Monte dos Arneiros is a restaurant called “O Fardo”. If you spend some days in Portugal you absolutely have to go to this restaurant and eat their speciality “Naco na Pedra”.
||Monte dos Arneiros
|Question board & Visitors site reports
||Correct craft Ski Nautiques 1997
Perfect Pass 6.0
||Fully equipped with combo skis, Slalom skis, wakeboards
||April 1st to Sept 15 th
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