A quote from Steve Thorp on why he loves, and you should read on to find out more, about the Orkney Islands…
The Orkneys have an enormous amount of potential for windsurfing and pretty much everything any windsurfer could want, from flat water speed and freestyle to heavy pro surfer tow slabs and long winding windy point breaks. They clearly scoop up a lot more wind and swell than the mainland also, and also have a lot more options for wind and swell direction. My new favourite place
Last time Steve Thorp ventured to the isle we featured the story over on our sister site Boardseeker (check it out here), now Mike Archer shares the story of a recent trip with Thorpy.
I’d not long been back to the UK after a long trip following the AWT windsurfing tour around the US, it’d been good catching up over a few beers with mates and seeing my family; on the other hand I was still getting itchy feet.
The next week was looking windy but offshore with no swell predicted on the east coast. Having kept my eye on the forecast, there was a low producing swell a lot further north of the UK. After a few Facebook chats with Steve Thorp we hatched a plan to check out Thurso in North Scotland, possibly the Orkneys, and try and catch the 22ft predicted swell.
Relatively unknown in the surfing and windsurfing world, the first impression of Orkney reminded me of a Tiree on steroids…
After nine hours driving though a Friday night and convincing another east coast sailor, Mark Bell, to join us. The three day power mission was on. We took shifts in driving and talked the usual shit all the way up to Thurso; a town renowned for its world class surf breaks in the vicinity. On reaching Thurso were not greeted by much swell as it was too west for the area. After a brief decision, and using Thorpy’s previous experience, it was time to head further north to a more exposed westerly coast line. 10 minutes later we were on the ferry to Stronmess straight onto the main Orkney island.
Relatively unknown in the surfing and windsurfing world, the first impression of Orkney reminded me of a Tiree on steroids, bigger in all respects. We approached the Fishela area, the large hills and valley gave excellent vantage points to check out the large numbers of reefs in the area. Most of the point breaks on the island required a long walk, sometimes on precarious paths – not for the faint hearted. Once you get over this, the crisp empty waves were perfect. We started our first day with a surf. The local seal population even joined in, curious to see newcomers to the area.
Luckily I washed over it and only suffered a half hour paddle after my kit.