Mersea Island, Essex
Brief intro: West Mersea is probably
the most popular windsurfing location in Essex. The start
and finish of the once famous round Mersea Island race,
it is a safe but challenging location for the aspiring
coastal sailor. Lying at the mouth of the Blackwater estuary,
it is tidal but there is little risk of being blown out
to sea. The guys from Ski Surf Shop in Colchester are all
Beach faces: South
Best wind direction: S/SW/SE
Best direction for waves: S/SW/SE give
the most challenging conditions on a high tide but the
sailing is mush and chop rather than waves.
Not good: North on any tide state and
West on an outgoing tide
Tide: Mid to High tide incoming is best,
otherwise you could have a long muddy walk. The outgoing
tide is quite strong and can suck you out on light wind
What’s on the bottom: Mud.
Any hazards?: Some Groynes to avoid
which are submerged at high tide.
Other water users: kite surfers, a few
jet skiers, yacht and dinghy sailors.
Suitability/levels: Beginners to Advanced.
Either side of high tide is ideal for beginners when it
is calm. Good for every level depending on the wind strength.
Wipeout factor: Down to the sailor’s
ability. As the wind picks up it gets more and more choppy
but no real waves to wipe you out.
Instruction: Not at Mersea itself but
you can book one to one instruction through Skisurf in
Colchester which they do at Alton in Suffolk or Ardleigh
reservoir in Colchester. Tel.01206 502000
Kit Hire: No.
Friendly factor: Very friendly. Loads
of windsurfing blasters who are always good for a bit of
Essex friendly banter on the beach.
No wind alternatives: Get your longboard
out and sail round the Island?! Good cycling around the
island. East Mersea Country Park with nice walks and picnic
||Yes, on site
Shop Skisurf, 15 miles away
Tel. 01206 502000
||Small shop near Sea View caravan
park right on the beach, Cafes at either end of the
||Parking Pay in the summer. There
are two car parks within 50metres of each other.
||The Peldon Rose on the way out
of Mersea is a great traditional pub. The Victory does
good food as you drive into town.
Accommodation: Camp right next to the
beach at Seaview Holiday Park Seaview
Avenue, West Mersea, Colchester, CO5 8DA Tel. 01206 382534
Local hotshots: Rusty Marshall the local legend, Toby
Monk the IMCO superstar, Andy Yule, Steve Baron, Simon Woods and also the
young but improving Dan Tridini.
Local knowledge/secrets: Westerly can
give good conditions. NW past the marshes is really flat
for speed but a bit offshore. You can occasionally get
waves on a very strong SE. The channel in the middle of
the river gets good standing waves.
Extra: Skisurf hosts UKWA slalom events
and plenty of local demo days. Mersea Windsurfers meet
at a hut by the caravan site at the north end of the Seafront
Road. Costs £20
a year to be a member and use the hut and hose facilities!
Contact Ken Capstick on 01206 735223.
How to get there:
From the M25 take the A12 Eastbound.
From the East and North Take the A14, exit at Ipswich
and take the A12 towards Colchester.
At the Colchester A12 bypass, exit onto the A133 following
signs for Colchester North and Central. Take a right at
the first roundabout go up the hill. At the top of the
hill go straight on at the traffic island (it sort of bears
After 300 metres turn left at the first set of traffic
lights into 'Straight Road'. Follow Straight Road to the
end where you come across two mini roundabouts. Do a left
on the first one and then an immediate right and follow
the signs to Mersea until you get onto the B1025 to Mersea.
Crossing the bridge to the island can be a hold up. In
a spring tide it becomes totally submerged! Once upon the
island head right into West Mersea and follow the signs
to the sea front.
Pictures to be credited to: Clyde Waite
and Greg Dunnett