West Wittering, West Sussex

West Wittering has been a really popular location since windsurfing started in the UK in the late 70’s. The beach itself is privately owned and has been kept rural by the owners (300 locals) who purchased the land to prevent development on the beach.  The windsurfing conditions are regarded on the south coast as some of the best with a shallow, waist deep, tidal lagoon at neap tides which is perfect for beginners and intermediates. Surprisingly for the south coast, you can get pretty steep waves for jumping and good riding at high tide, in particular two to three groynes downwind of the Windsurf Club.

Fees: WWWC was set up to allow windsurfers and kitesurfers access to use this privately owned beach.  Single membership costs £145.00 per annum and family membership at £215.00 with a joining fee of £40. Or you can buy a season ticket at £80, or pay £12.50 each time you visit (maximum visits 4 times per season and this includes parking). Windsurfing guests can be signed in by a member, and you must have 3rd party insurance and agree to abide by club safety rules. Maximum visits by a guest are 4 times per season.

Beach Faces:

South

Best Wind Direction:

South-west is cross onshore and can be excellent when there is a good swell running. Westerly is crosshore and great for wave riding and jumping. North-west is cross off and on occasions can be awesome.

Best Wind Direction For Waves:

South-West, West and North-West.

Not Good:

North-East

Tide:

Low tide is perfect for beginners and intermediates. Neap tides are better for the lagoon than spring tides, as you will get a long walk to the waters edge.  Low tide can also produce some really good waves to the far left of the lagoon.  At mid tide there is a mixture of flattish water and smaller waves.  At high tide there is no shore break at West Wittering due to the shallow shelving beach.

What’s On The Bottom:

Sand

Any Hazards:

West Wittering beach has some groynes but there are no obstacles in the water. In an easterly wind, you need to sail before high tide, as once it is on the turn and in the same direction as the wind, it’s game over. See you in Southampton!

Other Water Users:

Kitesurfers, swimmers and some surfers

Suitability / Levels:

Beginners to advanced. The West Wittering Windsurf Club has jet ski rescue cover between April and October.  Lifeguards are also on the beach in the summer holiday period.

Wipeout Factor:

Only on exceptional days are you likely to loose your kit in a wipeout. In most directions, you will get pushed along the shoreline and into the beach, or into the harbour mouth at the very worst.  If you break your kit out to sea, you are more than likely to get pushed in half way down the beach, giving you a long walk of shame!

Instruction:

West Wittering Windsurf Club has a full-on tuition programme from six year old kids who want to learn, to specialist private lessons on how to loop. There are three windsurf instructors, a kitesurf instructor and private coaching by the UK’s leading windsurf coach, Jem Hall. Call Andy Murray at the club for more details on 01243 513077.

Kit Hire:

This is available from the Windsurf Club.  There is a full hire centre including the latest wide style beginners boards, Hot Sails Maui kids rigs, Ezzy sails, JP, Starboard, Fanatic and North.  Also available are wetsuits, surfboards, bodyboards and surf kayaks.  There is also a Flexifoil Powerkite Test Centre at the Windsurf Club.

Friendly Factor:

There is a good social scene based around the Windsurf Club where everyone launches.  Because the beach is private between 1 April and 30 October, anyone windsurfing at West Wittering has to pay a day ticket of £12.50 which gives you the use of the Club, or alternatively join the Club if you are going to become a regular.

No Wind Alternatives:

There is a good social scene based around the Windsurf Club where everyone launches.  Because the beach is private between 1 April and 30 October, anyone windsurfing at West Wittering has to pay a day ticket of £12.50 which gives you the use of the Club, or alternatively join the Club if you are going to become a regular.

Facilities:

Toilets

Yes, on the beach

Shower

Yes, on the beach (new toilets and showers are being built this winter for the windsurfing club

Windsurfing Shop

2XS (www.2xs.co.uk) and Shore Watersports (www.shore.co.uk) very nearby

Food

Beach Cafe

Parking

You have to pay and this can be included in your sailing fee

Accommodation:

Call 2XS on 01243 512552 for the latest accommodation or look on their website,www.2xs.co.uk. There are camp sites in West Wittering and a number of B&B’s. For accomodation information in the general Chichester area try www.smoothhound.co.uk/chichester-ratings.html

Local Hotshots:

West Wittering gets its fair share of grade A windsurfers and kiters.  Windsurfers include Chris Audsley, Paul Hunt, and Timo Mullen who will travel down if the conditions are good. Also locals Stu Holland, Billy Wheaton, Pete Hart, Jem Hall, Neil Gent, Simon Bassett, Ian Whittaker and Camilla French can be seen out on the water.

Local Knowledge / Secrets:

To get the best waves, wait an hour after high tide or two hours before high tide, and sail 3 groynes down from the Windsurf Club.

Webcams:  There is a free webcam including tide, windspeed direction and wave height at www.2xs.co.uk . They also have a mobile GPRS link for phones.

2XS Windsurfing Shop also provides a 24 hour telephone weather line which gives up-to-date information on actual wind speed and direction. The Blowline number is  0906 8518628. Calls charged at 60p per minute.

Extra:

WWWC have organised the Windsurf at Wittering event for the last 7 years in spring and autumn.

West Wittering has been voted the No.1 beach in the UK for many years due to its clean waters and well organised beach site.

Unlike most beaches, West Wittering is private and they charge to park, and you have to pay to windsurf and kitesurf.  West Wittering Estate, who run the site, are owned by around 300 locals who purchased the land 50 years ago to prevent development of a holiday camp on the beach.  The Windsurf Club, which has been there for 20 years, was a response to preventing windsurfers, and now more recently kitesurfers, from being banned from using the beach in the summer months.  Wittering gets more than 1 million visitors a year so there is a need to control the integration of kitesurfers and windsurfers on West Wittering beach.

How To Get There:

Coming from London (Wimbledon area) it generally takes 1 hour 15 mins to get down to West Wittering.  Come down the A3 to Portsmouth and take the A27 towards Chichester and Brighton.  Upon reaching the outskirts of Chichester you take the A286, signposted to The Witterings, and then follow signs for West Wittering for approximately 7 miles.  On entering the village you pass by 2XS on your right hand side, and then 500m later you come across a right hand turning for the beach. A mile down this road you will reach the beach.

Report By:

Simon Bassett

Photo Credits:

Photos by: 2XS

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