Now forgive me for saying this, and I hope you don’t think I am blaspheming Maui, South Africa, the Canaries or even Western Australia, but after chatting to some friends who are lucky enough to have spent the winter abroad, but had quite a mediocre time, I had to ask them and myself the very question: Is the UK the best place in the world for windsurfing? After some seriously good sessions and a few cold beers to think about it, I honestly think that it might be.
Ok it gets cold, but we get used to that and have pretty good wetsuits. We have also got new kit that makes the apparent quality of our conditions a whole lot better. But the thing is, when we get wind we really do get it and recently we have had a lot of it. We are also an island, meaning that whatever conditions you should so desire, are really only a small drive away. So often there have been big waves in one part of the country combined with perfect speedsailing in other parts. The diversity is a luxury that many places abroad really don’t have. You name it: bump and jump, flat, cross on, cross off, big waves, small waves, starboard tack, port tack, fresh water - it is all there for the taking. This winter the wind has been so consistent that you expect to get out at the weekends and even during the week – it has been more of a surprise if it is NOT windy.
But what I really like about sailing in the UK is the easy access to your favourite beach (you just drive, unload and beach start) and the consistency of the wind. It’s a proper man's wind, windy from when you step on your board to when you get off. What you actually don’t realise about a lot of these exotic places is that the winds are very gusty. Take Sotavento in Fuerteventura, Big Bay and Sunset Beach in Cape Town, Hookipa, Margaret River – as amazing as they are to sail, the wind is surprisingly inconsistent. The pro’s out there always make it look so much easier than it is. You know where you are in the UK, you always feel safe. There are few sharp reefs to make mince meat of your kit and you don’t brick yourself every time you fall in for fear of becoming shark fodder.
One other thing I really appreciate from windsurfing at home are the crowds, or relative lack of them. Cape Town and Maui are amazing places to windsurf, and I highly recommend a visit, but so many times you will find yourself fighting with the gusts and the crowds that you will often miss your perfect jump ramp or waveride. That is a very rare problem in the UK.
So next time you look at pictures of blissful conditions abroad, remember how lucky we are. How little money it costs to get to the beach and how we didn’t need to fight the crowds to get to the perfect ramp or get into a fit or rage when 10 other people have cut you up or dropped into your wave – you are the local, the only local and it’s very good!
Here are some pictures of classic days this year! Britain - the best place in the world for windsurfing…
"But the thing is, when we get wind we really do get it and recently we have had a lot of it..."