A 3 week trip to the UK at the start of their summer offered the chance to escape the winter doldrums that plagued Sydney. It was also an excuse to eat Cornish pasties, tease the Brits about their inability to cope with 25degrees and check out Wimbledon.
Unfortunately it was the worst summer on record with regular fronts producing weeks of rain and floods on the south coast. I met up with members of the Ocean Motion Windsurfing Club who are based mostly around Hayling Island and are a very committed group of sailors. Given the prevailing summer conditions of 30knts, 12 degrees, pounding shore dump and driving rain they all sailed. I, as an Aussie began to realise how spoiled we are. But it not until I realised that instead of strolling through nice sand to the water, in the UK the pebbled beaches are sharp and unforgiving for my tender, if suntanned feet that I realised that I was truly soft! A had a good session off the sand bar at Halying Island, west beach in 5.4 weather and a light slalom session in Poole Habour at Bramble Bush Bay.
I checked out all the other ‘big’ spots that I have read about in Boards and Windsurf magazines from Cornwall to Devon. Kimmerage, Bigbury Bay and Gwinthians are spectacular. I can imagine sailing these spots with waves stacked to the horizon surrounded by cliffs and a backdrop of green rolling hills. On my visit Kimmerage was a lake, Bigbury was a turgid mess of floodwater and Gwithians was the perfect spot for a picnic.
UK sailors have a certain positivity that maximises their time on the water. Regardless of the wind strength they will go sailing. It’s just a matter of finding the right sail and board combination which is usually buried somewhere in their enormous vans they all seem to travel in. Once again, I realised how good we have it in Oz being able to streamline gear ownership
You know that these UK sailors have made a huge investment in their equipment when my hosts pulled out an 85litre freestyle wave of a defunct German manufacturer from underneath a quiver of 2.9-4.2 wave sails exclaiming “I had forgotten we even had this board!”
Check out Ocean Motion Windsurfing Club www.omwc.org