Largs, Ayrshire

If you want some flat water blasting in a beautiful location 40 minutes from Glasgow City Centre, then Largs is your beach. It is also a good place to introduce yourself to the big, wide sea while being fairly enclosed and avoiding nasty white water – for now! Largs is also the training ground for the Scottish Windsurfing Squad and hosts huge racing regattas every summer.

3 launch sites

Marina: Easy to park, use of a public slipway + lots of facilities at the Sailing Academy which if you ask nicely, you’ll be able to use.

Rose Garden: Closer to town, easy to park, sandy beach, grassy rigging area in front of a pretty rose garden. Can get very busy with tourists in summer.

Porton Cross: Glasgow end of town. This is where to launch if the wind is more west/south-west as Cumbrae doesn’t get in the way, giving a cleaner wind. Not as nice, however, to launch from.

Beach Faces:

West.

Best Wind Direction:

South-west or South but then an easterly can blow old boots down off the mountains.

Best Wind Direction For Waves:

Rolling swell in a strong southerly is all you’ll get – no breaking waves here!

Not Good:

West through to North.

Tide:

The deep water channel runs between Largs and the Island of Cumbrae so there is a fair amount of tide from left to right on the flood and right to left on the ebb (looking out to sea). However, if you’re planing or stay fairly close to your shore, it won’t bother you.

What’s On The Bottom:

A mixture of sand, pebbles and the odd toe-bashing rock.

Any Hazards:

CalMac ferry between Largs & Cumbrae runs all day and stops for no man. The odd nuclear submarine crusing through the deep water channel and a handful of posh yachts.

Other Water Users:

See above + dinghies & powerboats from the Marina and Cumbrae National Watersports Centre.

Suitability / Levels:

Great place to learn to sail on the sea or for lake sailors who want to get salty in a fairly safe environment. Lots of racers train here on their Formula and Slalom kit.

Wipeout Factor:

Low. There is no shorebreak, no waves so the worst that can happen is that you break your kit in the middle and get run over by the ferry! Only joking, there is always plenty of ribs on the water from the various centres who will come & rescue you if needs be.

Instruction:

Not in Largs but in Cumbrae which is a 5 minute windsurf or a 15 minute ferry crossing from Largs Town Centre. Cumbrae Watersports Centre does one day taster sessions for £35 as well as proper RYA courses.

Kit Hire:

No.

Friendly Factor:

This is Scotland – a busy day at the beach means you get about 10 sailors. In the winter, you could be on your own.

No Wind Alternatives:

This is Scotland – a busy day at the beach means you get about 10 sailors. In the winter, you could be on your own.

Facilities:

Toilets

Yes, at the Rose Garden site & at the Marina.

Shower

Only at the Marina.

Windsurfing Shop

No. But a chandlery shop at Marina.

Food

Lots of choice in Largs.

Parking

By the shore and all free.

Pub

Plenty in town & one cheesy nightclub.

Accommodation:

This link should give you enough to go on:www.largs.org/local/hotels.htm

Local Hotshots:

UK Formula Champ Alan Jackson, Andrew Kerr, Dave & Gordon in his snazzy red VW.

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

If it’s a strong westerly, you may be able to get away with it and sail from Porton Cross.

A strong southerly will bring in rolling swell which you can jump off, especially if its wind against tide.

Extra:

Largs Marina hosts many sailing regattas. The Formula Youth & Masters World was held there a few years ago and the UK Laser Nationals is being held there in August 2006.

How To Get There:

Largs is on the A78. Coming from Glasgow area, you need to follow the M8 then the A8 west signposted to Greenock, then just follow the coast road south to Largs.

Report By:

Alan Jackson (GBR-53)