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Isle of Wight Guide

White Air is the biggest water and land based extreme sports festival in Europe. White Air began in 1997, starting as a wind and surf based event due to the attraction of the Islands superb conditions, beaches, and of course waves. It has rapidly expanded and now one of the most prestigious International festivals on the calendar. For more info visit www.whiteair.co.uk.

RYDE / PUCKPOOL / SEAVIEW- Kitesurfing / Windsurfing- Level : Beginner-Intermediate

As you arrive in on the Wightlink ferry from Portsmouth you will see a huge expanse of sandy beach at low tide. The area between Ryde and Bembridge on the Solent side offers superb beginner conditions. The gently shelving beach allows for waist deep water at half tide and sand bars and pools at low tide. Puckpool much like Bembridge is very good for learning with a lagoon forming at low water. At low tide, Ryde again offers long sandy beaches and plenty of room and shallow water. At high tide beware not to launch anywhere too close upwind of the pier. There are ferries, hovercraft, fishermen, and plenty of boats, but more importantly a fairly strong current taking you straight into them on SE/E winds. At this state of tide head east towards Seaview/Puckpool and launch from there instead. Best wind directions W/NW-E/SE.

BEMBRIDGE- Beginner / Intermediate / X-isle Windsurf and Kitesurf School base.

As you move around to the south side of the Island, the harbour town of Bembridge is especially popular amongst the windsurfers and kitesurfers alike. The calmer sea and gently sloping beach again allows for great beginner to intermediate conditions. Again you can stand up for a hundred yards or more at low/mid water and to cap it off there is the very well set-up and well run ‘x-isle’ school operating from the beach that teaches both windsurfing and kitesurfing. Windsurfing is very safe at all states of tide but be careful in offshore winds. For kiting you will need low/mid tide. Best wind directions W/NW-E (although great for learning in SW at low tide).

White Air guide to the Isle of Wight

YAVERLAND / SANDOWN- Kitesurfing/Windsurfing /Intermediate.

White Air Extreme Sports location/Mountain Board Park and Adventure Sports centre. Renowned for hosting the prestigious extreme sports championships ‘White Air’. It is also home to the White Air Mountain board Park and adventure sports centre. Yaverland has a wide and sandy beach at low water fine for learning windsurfing and yet can produce some great Wavesailing conditions in the storms. It is sideshore in the prevailing SW winds and you can drift downwind here quite safely as long as you come in before the white cliffs. At high water there is much less beach (at spring tides virtually none) and it would suit intermediate to experts windsurfers only and gets very busy in the summer months with beach goers. For windsurfers the 4 mile open bay is ideal for coast runs on race boards and you will often see Tushingham designer Ken Black, and Aaron and Ross Williams out training on their race boards. Further down at Sandowns main beach there is more beach at high water but beware it gets very busy in the summer and parking there is hard. Best wind directions SW-E.

LAKE- Windsurfing (between Sandown pier and Shanklin) / WightWater Windsurfing School.

Just west of Sandown, Lake offers another of the three main Watersports schools on the Island. Run by Scott Gardner and linked with the local shop Offshore Sports. In the SW winds the slightly sheltered bay is great for learning. Best access is to park at either ‘Hope Beach’ at Shanklin or near Sandown Pier and then walk along.

SHANKLIN- Internediate- Kitesurfing/Windsurfing/Surfing

Not so frequently used for windsurfing, Shanklin beach does offer plenty of beach room especially at low water but with high cliffs to the western end the prevailing winds tend to be gusty. It can though produce some good wavesailing up under Luccombe cliffs in a southerly, and can work well in NE as well. In a SW gale the surfing can also be excellent here.

VENTNOR- Expert /Surfing/Windsurfng.

Situated on the south side Ventnor beach can be popular for surfing. Some of the ground swells wrap around the headland and just about get in here to produce some fun waves. Although in can be ideal for surfing it is very much just an expert wavesailing venue due to the small area to launch and heavy dumping waves. Best wind direction SW or ESE.

ShanklinVentnor

NITON- Surfing / Wavesailing- Suitable for intermediate to expert only.

Just around the point Niton offers the expert wavesailor and surfers some of the best conditions on the Island. Ground swells wrap in here for a fast clean ride. Get it on a SW backing to the W and the wavesailing can also be excellent. Watch out for the surfers if you are windsurfing. The launch is very tricky with just a small 5m wide channel to get out and in from, and the tidal race that whips up the extra swell will also whip you out to sea very quickly. On a big swell at high water it can be very dicey, with strong inshore rips that will have you down the coast in seconds with little chance on finding a landing area! Best wind SW-W or E.

BRIGHSTONE- Intermediate/Expert- Kitesurfing/Windsurfing/Surfing

A beautiful scenic spot and situated on the west side the swells arrive straight in here. Wavesailing here is the probably the best on the Island on its day, and one of the venues for the ‘White Air’ contest. A few locals will sail here but mostly you will find yourself alone except on the best days. It is a long paddle but the surfing is also excellent here. Its a steep walk down the cliff and there is little beach room for rigging. It is very rocky at low water and best sailed half tide and upwards. Best wind direction W/NW or SE.

BROOK- Kitesurfing/Windsurfing

West of Brightstone, Brook is best suited for windsurfing and most states of tide apart from low springs are useable. It the past few years this spot has also become popular with kitesurfers. During the summer months the coastal blasting provides action all the way down to Freshwater Bay, whilst in the winter the swells create for a superb intermediate wave spot. With the bay curving in a horseshoe intermediates will fine launching much easier from the western end on the beach where the shore break is very small and the wind angle usually more sideshore. Sideshore in NW/SE.

COMPTON- Kitesurfing/Windsurfing/Surfing

As you head further west around the point the next beach is Compton. Mainly used by surfers and with a car park and easy access the beach faces due west and gets pretty much any swells around. It is a slow wave at high water but can be excellent at low to mid tides especially with an offshore breeze. Wavesailing in a N wind with swell can also be very good. As you move down the beach the Fields flows into Compton. The main difference here being the sandy bottom which creates a faster wave for surfing. At low water kitesurfing is well catered for with a large expanse of sandy beach. It fine for learning although intermediates would prefer Brook. Sideshore SE or NNW.

ComptonFreshwater

FRESHWATER BAY- Surfing

The best surf spot on its day Freshwater needs head high waves before the reef break works. Picturesque with high chalk cliffs extending down to the Needles it is a very sheltered bay on three sides. The heavy surf breaks right across the bay for the longest rides on the island. Intermediate to expert surfers only.

YARMOUTH / COLWELL BAY- Intermediate/Kitesurfing/Windsurfing

Colwell Bay overlooking Hurst Castle is very popular and a mainly flat water bay ideal for learning to intermediate windsurfing, but be careful of the very strong Solent currents further out. You can kitesurf here but the beach is very small and breaking a line could mean quite a serious swim. Yarmouth beach is suitable for windsurfing but access is limited and the tide is very strong.

THORNESS BAY- Kitesurfing/Windsurfing

Used by the teaching establishments this bay faces north and is ideal for learning windsurfing and also good for kitesurfing. Watch out for the strong tide in the Solent.

GURNARD- Windsurfing/Beginner/Intermediate

Used mainly by locals it provides a good Windsurfing blasting area but there is little room to launch. Be careful as the tides here are very strong down through the Solent to Cowes. Another good wind against tide spot.

COWES- UKSA Sailing Academy

Windsurfing from the seafront works well in SW and E but beware that the Solent currents are especially strong with rips right along the beach. The prestigious windsurfing Youth Week is sponsored by the UKSA each year and is part of the White Air festival in October.

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