When it comes to freestyle most people like it flat, really really flat. So the UK’s very own JP took a little detour, after a trip to Paris, when the forecast for Brouwersdam was going off. With West Kirby as his local spot, here are his thoughts on what he sees as potentially the best two man made flat-water spots in the world. Over to John Palmer…
West Kirby Marine Lake,
The Wirral, UK
Kirby is probably one of the best places in the world for flat-water windsurfing. A man made wall has been built to hold some of the sea water from the Dee Estuary back, so it’s always full. It works well when the wind is SW to NW providing super clean consistent wind, usually stronger than forecast. It’s a great place for all abilities with the deepest parts being around 5ft. This makes it perfect for beginners and intermediates learning to water-start. It’s a pretty big lake with around 52 acres of water so rarely gets too busy. The only time the lake isn’t great is on a big high tide, over 8 metres, because the sea comes over the wall. However, when it’s like this you can sail outside the lake, just watch out for the tide because it goes out quiiiiiiiiiick!!
There’s plenty of friendly locals and some really good young freestylers to chat to. There are even hot showers and a changing room. My only issue with Kirby is it costs £12 per person to launch, which is a little extreme if you arrive in the afternoon for a quick hour or two! That said, the conditions really couldn’t get much better for flat water though, last time I was out there it was full power 3.7 weather, perfectly flat and just tow of us on the water. Definitely worth a visit.
So, time to look at the local spot of Steven van Broeckhoven, Davy Scheffers, and Dieter Van Der Eyken.
I wasn’t really planning on my trip to Brouwersdam but ended up in Europe on holiday with no wind anyway, so after doing all the touristy things in Paris with my girlfriend we went to McDonalds to borrow some internet. I checked the forecast and the only place that had wind was Brouwersdam so I sent Dieter a message. With the forecast good (works with SW to NW wind) we arranged to meet there in a few days, so after a quick trip to Bruges and Amsterdam we arrived ready for the wind.
Now there are plenty of no camping signs near Brouwersdam and I’d recommend going to a campsite if you don’t want a wake up call in the middle of the night. We woke up to flashing blue lights, a siren and some angry policeman banging on the van. Fortunately he didn’t make us pay a fine but getting up to drive somewhere else at 3am was a little irritating.
We met Dieter the next day and had 2 days of full power conditions. The spot we sailed in Brouwersdam is at the Windsurf Centre. Part of the water is protected by a wall so again you get super flat conditions perfect for freestyle and learning. It’s a good bit smaller than West Kirby and I can see it getting super busy in the summer. Like West Kirby it’s pretty shallow everywhere, perhaps even too shallow in some areas!
You can also sail outside the wall, which is deeper and provides good freeride conditions. On the other side of the main road and dam there is a decent wave beach a little further North. Dieter tells me with a few days of Westerly wind then it swinging to Southerly provides perfect cross off down the line wave sailing.
Parking in Brouwersdam is much more reasonable! Only costs 6 Euros per day from April to November then is free in the winter.
Which is best…
Not much competition for me! West Kirby by a long way! Its much bigger, flatter and not too far away. Brouwersdam was good and is worth a visit if you are in the area but I wouldn’t aim to go there on holiday. However, seeing as one of the Locals is now World Champion it can’t be too bad!!