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  1. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
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    191
    I live in Berkshire and have been windsurfing for about 3 years. Like you I feel the cold and I tend to windsurf at the coast from April to around Christmas time, depending on the temperature. I've been through a few different wetsuits, because of how much I feel the cold, and currently have a 6/5 for the cold months, a short sleeved 4/3 for really warm days and a 5/3 for the rest of the time. Fit is crucial with a suit. I personally much prefer the windchill/mesh/skin material because it makes suits much warmer Ė without that Iíd be limited to June-Oct. Most people who donít feel the cold that much donít bother with this style of suit.

    Regarding local lakes, this year is my first year at a lake, having joined one near Reading in April. Obviously being a much smaller body of water than the sea, they gain and lose temperature faster and also to a greater degree, roughly following air temperatures with only a slight lag. Youíll see highs in the low 20s in summer and lows down into low single figures in winter. By contrast, the sea lags the air by two or three months and never warms or cools by as much, so it tops out at about 17 in September and is often still in double figures in December. I'm still on my first year at the lake, but I'd guess at knocking a month off my season at either end, maybe more.

    The other consideration with lakes vs the sea is the quality of the wind. The coast usually has a nice constant wind, which is great for learning, although it can get choppy or wavy in some areas, which isnít so great when youíre uphauling and sailing big boards. Lakes are smoother, but the wind makes them much harder to sail on, because itís all over the place in strength and direction. This is especially true when youíre a progressing beginner, as you canít seem to get a decent breeze to start learning to plane and gybe properly without it also being extremely vicious and gusty. I go to the coast when I can, and use the lake for fun after work twice a week when I donít have the time to get to the sea.

    Finally, as a general rule youíll find the best instructors and the best learning equipment at the coast. People who are serious about windsurfing and live their life around it tend to live by the sea, for all the above reasons. Many coastal schools have specific beginner kit and refresh it every year.

    Personally Iíd recommend starting in May and would highly recommend Poole Harbour, or 2XS at West Wittering if youíre further east. From Berks itís actually cheaper for us to drive there and hire or learn than it is to go local, and itís much better quality windsurfing that is sure to get you hooked. Plus, in Poole Harbour the waterís usually waist deep, which is handy when learning, both for getting on and off, but also walking back upwind if you've drifted. If you get a decent suit and boots then you should be fine for the next few weeks down there; most of the schools are shut but I know a fantastic instructor in Poole who often teaches through the winter (just e-mail me). You shouldnít need a hood in the harbour because of how shallow the water is (unless it really is bitterly cold) Ė hands are often the limiting factor because windsurfing in gloves is full of problems.

    Hope that helps!

  2. #9
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    Posts
    3,876
    The above all sounds eminently sensible. Be aware the reference to Poole Harbour is presumably Evening Hill/Shore Road ( there are several other places to sail in Poole Harbour which are not shallow) . You might also consider the OTC at Portland Harbour albeit a slightly longer trip.

    On the coast the water is generally at its coldest from December through to April although by April there can be compensation in terms of higher ambient temperatures. In terms of air temperature it is as well to consider the windchill factor ( or what general forecasters call the feel like temperature) rather than just the ambient temperature.........you will not after all be windsurfing in a wind shadow! The windchill is affected by both the direction and strength of the wind and can be several degrees below the ambient temperature. Generally winds from the North and East bring the coldest temperatures in the winter months. If skies are clearer, even the winter sun has enough strength to make a difference so rather than consider specific months as suitable or not it is best to be guided by the forecast. March/April sessions can be colder than some February sessions.

  3. #10
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    191
    Thanks Mike. I agree entirely with everything you say there, thanks for the additions. Yes, sorry I was referring to Shore Rd - Poole Windsurfing and H20 Watersports are based there and it's a superb spot for learning, almost perfect in fact. They also hire, which I'd highly recommend as a beginner because you'll want to progress through sails and boards constantly, and/or be pickier about which you choose for which conditions. It's where I learnt and after the first year I then picked my favourite hire kit to buy secondhand, which I still have now.

  4. #11
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Nov 2016
    Posts
    18
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll wait to see what kind of spring we get and when, can't wait really though. I'm probably going to join the Datchet Club. I've checked out a couple of XCel TDC winter wet suits for myself and the wife. Just now need to sort boots and possibly gloves. I'll try and post how I'm getting on when I start. I'll leave the seaside trips until we're relatively competent and confident of going in somewhere to hire kit.

  5. #12
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Dec 2014
    Posts
    108
    Re joining a club have you looked at datchet water sports. It's not part of datchet water sailing club but they share the same site. Great guys, you can get instruction and hire kit. Re a club proper have you looked at Queen Mary, they have a strong windsurfing membership and substantial numbers of club members on the water when the wind blows which you may not find elsewhere

    I persevered through a couple of winters when I was learning and after a few ear splitting painful head dunks in sub 5 degree water self preservation kicked in and I could fall off and get back on board so quickly that I barely got wet

    Good luck !

  6. #13
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Posts
    191
    Quote Originally Posted by Cardy View Post
    Just now need to sort boots and possibly gloves.
    Just a couple of things you might find useful: Unlike wetsuits, boots obviously don't mould to your shape as much, so they need to fit very well to avoid pools of water forming. It took three pairs of boots for me to find some that fitted properly. Gloves, as I'm sure you know, are a sticking point for most of us because of how quickly hands cramp up hanging off the boom, however I reckon as a beginner with much less power in the sail you might be ok; there are certainly two beginners in Poole who always wear gloves and seem to get on just fine. Don't forget a hood either! They're not that expensive, but most people will need one from now till April.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cardy View Post
    I'll try and post how I'm getting on when I start. I'll leave the seaside trips until we're relatively competent and confident of going in somewhere to hire kit.
    Thanks, it'd be good to hear how you both get on. Don't forget how much easier it is to windsurf at the coast, provided the wind is there. One solution might be to have your first few lessons in Poole Harbour and then move inland, although it might be better to learn in the environment you end up using the most? To learn, look for between 4 and 10 knots ideally, and you want it consistent (which usually means not blowing in from over trees or houses). If there's no wind then don't rule out SUP; it'll get you used to balancing on a board and it's great exercise, especially for windsurfing. I always carry a SUP board just in case there's no wind, which as a beginner looking for mild winds is often the case.

  7. #14
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cardy View Post
    Thanks everyone for the advice. I'll wait to see what kind of spring we get and when, can't wait really though. I'm probably going to join the Datchet Club. I've checked out a couple of XCel TDC winter wet suits for myself and the wife. Just now need to sort boots and possibly gloves. I'll try and post how I'm getting on when I start. I'll leave the seaside trips until we're relatively competent and confident of going in somewhere to hire kit.
    Good luck with the learning. Been sailing inland in Bedfordshire for 15 years or so and it can get really cold at times. But like others have said, it all depends on the weather as lakes change temperature rapidly, especially the shallow ones. Datchet is quite deep so can take a bit longer to warm up. Try and book on warm days with suitable wind and know your limits. Even a lake like Datchet can seem massive when you are cold and struggling to get back to the shore. When you do crack it this sport is so much fun. It is a challenge in the early days but that for me and many others is what makes it so enjoyable.

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