Brief Intro: Calshot is one of the best all-round sailing locations in the Southampton area and one which, on the right tide, can be sailed in any direction of wind and can give varied fun conditions from beginner to advanced bump and jump. It also has good facilities on-site with an active windsurfing club all of 20 minutes from the M27!
Fees: In the summer you need to be a member of the Calshot Windsurfing Club or pay for a day’s windsurfing pass to sail from the east end of the spit (£7.50). However you can sail for no fee (other than parking) outside of the activity centre on land owned by the New Forest District.
Beach faces: The main or front beaches face South-east all the way around to North-west facing in the lagoon.
Best wind direction: High tide at the front beaches is best in a South-west or a North-east. At low tide you can sail from North-east clockwise through to West at the front beaches.
lagoon works in the other directions, from South-west clockwise through to North-east (as long as you have water).
Best direction for waves: This is not a wave spot but a strong South, South-east or South-west will blow up to 3ft of chop.
Not good: Low tide with a North West wind. High tide with a South East wind.
an issue! The main beach is sailable at all tides but a long walk out at low tide. The tide can go out very quickly and there is a tidal rip off the tip of the point near the lifeboat station. Tide-against-wind gives the best conditions; for example, the tide ebbing with a South-west wind or on-the- push with a North-east wind.
In the lagoon you can sail from mid to high tide, but better to sail it on the push as it can get very muddy if you leave it too late on an ebbing tide.
What’s on the bottom: Sand with a lot of pebbles and occasional rocks on the front beaches. The lagoon is full of mud, pebbles and rock.
Any hazards?: Mainly tide and shipping. However, there are always lots of small craft traffic in the channel that will rescue windsurfers and particularly kitesurfers. There is also a Coast Guard and RNLI base on the spit end and a volunteer beach rescue service in the summer.
Shallow sand bars which are more pebbles then sand.
Boots are recommended as the mud does have a few sharp corners in the shape of bottles and plastics.
Other water users: Kitesurfers, dinghy sailors, cargo ships, cruise liners and very fast IOW ferries.
Suitability/levels: First time sailors to top class freestylers. The lagoon is perfect for beginners as when they get blown downwind they will just end up in a muddy corner. Good intermediate teaching at the front beaches.
Wipeout factor: Only by the 10:30am ferry to Cowes! Don't fall off in the shipping channels unless your waterstart is bomb proof and don't try to sail over to Hillhead or the Isle of White.
Instruction: Yes, at Calshot Activity Centre.
Kit Hire: You can demo the latest kit from Solent Sailboards for a fee of £20-25. However, if you buy the kit you will get your money back! They will also give any rigging advice plus the odd top tip.
Friendly factor: Loads of sailors at all levels and a really good social scene through the Calshot Windsurfing Club.
No wind alternatives:
On site indoor climbing and ski centre (www.calshot.com). All the delights of Southampton City Centre including the Southampton Hall of Aviation & shopping at West Quay. Or why not visit Beaulieu Palace in the New Forest with its National Motor Musuem?
||Yes, but an outside one.
Solent Sailboards on site, 4boards (was Specialised Sailing)
||Join Calshot Windsurfing Club for £40 per year and get the benefits of hot showers, changing rooms, parking & camping rights. (Join at Solent Sailboards or Activity Centre)
||Evening Restaurant in Activity Centre, beach cafe at southern end of the spit, supermarket in nearby Fawley.
||Pay & Display outside of centre OR pay at entrance to Calshot Activity Centre to park and windsurf.
Spinnakers Pub in Activity Centre or nearest one in Holbury.
Accommodation: If you are member of the Calshot Club then you can camp there. However you will need to have a Police Check (which costs £10 from your local Police Station) as it is a children’s activity centre. But plenty of camping sites in the New Forest which is 5 miles away. Try www.newforest-online.co.uk/nfol-tourist/camping.shtm for camping and www.newforest-uk.com/ for other accomodation.
Local hotshots: The King brothers, the legendary John Clarke, Dan Van der Bosch, Grant and Robin Penner.
Local knowledge/secrets: A south-west, summer sea breeze will funnel down the Solent. It can be a force stronger than anywhere else kicking in around mid afternoon.
Nice freestyle location up behind the power station but watch out for kiters as a much beloved spot for the bouncy castle flyers.
On site wind info: www.wendywindblows.com/stations/calshot.html
Extra: Local legend John Popkiss imports Naish from a warehouse on the spit. He will also fix any dent or slash in a sail no matter how old the kit is via Solent Sailboards.
How to get there: Take Junction 2 on the M27. Head south on the A326 towards Hythe and Fawley. From Fawley take the B3053 all the way to Calshot and head towards Calshot Spit.
Reporters: Andy & Steve King