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Iona receiving her trophy from Guy Cribb having come first in her fleet (4.5m)

Newcommer stuck in London craving for time on the water

Started by Started by: pitsikoko
Hello there,

I'm Pierre, 32, with a strong french accent, living in the UK since 6 years.

I caught the windsurfing virus 3 years ago on a greek island where I have been lucky to stay for several weeks since then every summer. But I moved in London, started studying again, had no cash and not much time so I just sailed few times at Queen Mary in the winter, plugged on ebay every day and dreaming about being on the water more often.

I just finished studying and I couldnt wait more, so I just bought my own kit recently (jp x-cite 122, 7.2m2, bits and pieces and a brand new spartan winter wetsuit). I was hoping to be fine travelling with my kit in public transports but i begin to realize this is slightly mad (doable?), especially when it comes with convincing the bus driver or tube employees it will be fine to move around with a 250cm long and heavy bag.

I'm currently looking for a job and it's very likely that i will have to stay in London.. partner live there too... i m trying to find solutions to be able to windsurf as much as possible !

I'm intermediate, planning in the straps, no problems in offshore winds to come back, trying to exit my gybes still planning...

The only options I see at the moment:

- to store my kit at one of the inland lakes, it's not so bad but obviously winds are less strong than at the coast, and have to be lucky to get good winds at the week end, and its still 2 hours public transport (im in north london, Bounds Green atm)
- store my kit at the coast somewhere and go there by train at the week end.
- say fuck it about a job in London in my new field, move to the coast away from my partner and go back to working in IT as I used to do in the past.
- find some like minded windsurfer from london willing to go to the coast every week end when wind is up, who have a vehicle and like to share a good day and good company together and petrol cost
- keep rigging in the garden.

I would like to get to know a group of like minded wind chasers who are craving to be on the water.
How often do you guys meet, is it still every week end when wind is up ?
What about sailing at sea with no rescue cover ? i'm afraid of breaking something in the kit, making me unable to go back to shore and having to wait until I reach the french coast.
Do some of you start from London with a vehicle, and looking to find another bloke to chip in for the petrol? (i'm ready to fold in the boot)

Long post, loads of questions, and it looks windy this saturday, damn i can't wait to try my new board!
Anybody in the same situation ? Could rent a car too if we are several.

kindest regards

Last updated: 27/09/13 15:24 By: pitsikoko
Views: 1451

Added by Mark on 27/09/13

G'day Pierre,

Looking at list of option made me smile, went through a similar thought process.
I did option two for a while, (at west wittering) and took the train, bus for a while.

'- store my kit at the coast somewhere and go there by train at the week end.'

then I joined Hove Lagoon, you can use their gear and also store you own stuff there. You can also just store stuff there and not be a full member(cheaper). I think whistable is also an option for storage and train travel. But hove is the best option IMHO.

I also did those car club things for a while, about 60 quid to get to Hayling island for me.

But in the end I just got a small van, and then a bigger van...


Added by emma on 27/09/13

Hello Pierre,

Nice post!

You really do need a car if at all possible to make having your own kit worthwhile (sorry to be the bearer of bad news!). I'm sure you can hire cars for a day for 30 or similar can't you?? I windsurf in Southend and we do get some flat water. Where abouts in London are you? There might be some fellow ocean motion members that can help you out, you never know!


Added by Yannis on 27/09/13

Hey Pierre,

Love your post since I was in exactly the same position in 1996 (a year after I moved to London) when I bought my first kit without having a car!

First, I rented a car for a while. I bought a roof-rack which I kept at home and on windy weekends I hired a car: took the train to the car rental place on Saturday morning, picked up the car, drove it home, loaded the kit, went to the beach and returned the car on Monday morning before I went to work. Back then I used to sail in Worthing and Bognor Regis.

In 1997 I spent 700 and I bought an old banger to drive my kit to the beach and for the next 10 years I lived a nomadic life following the wind and driving to places like Hayling Island, West Wittering and Pool Harbour (I bought a Volvo estate at some point which was the dream windsurfing car).

Then in 2008 I decided to find a sailing club where I can store my kit and settle down a bit. After some research I got membership at the Whitstable Yacht Club. They are a great club with a massive windsurfing storage shed right on the beach. The windsurfing members group is very active, the RLNI (lifeboats) is literally next door to the windsurfing shed and overall is a great and very safe place to sail. It is also very convenient to get to from London, should you decide to store your kit there and get the train there and back. It's only an hour away from central London stations, so public transport can work! I still sail there quite a bit, so if you end up there, we can meet up and sail together.


I stayed with the Whitstable club for 2 years and then I moved my stuff to the Haythe and Saltwood Sailing Club. I didn't stay there for long as I didn't like the wind/sea conditions.

In 2011, after 3 years of being a member of a sailing club and having my kit in local storage, I decided to get my kit back, load the car and once more chase the wind, something I have been doing since. Then in early 2012 I also joined the OMWC which was great as I have met some fantastic people, visited new places to sail and also it has massively increased the hours I spend in the water.

This winter, I am planning to replace my estate car with a van! Then I will permanently store my kit in the van, like a lot of other OMWC members do, making it a lot easier to pack and go on windy days.

So hope this helps!

Let me know if you want more info on anything I mentioned.


Added by pitsikoko on 28/09/13

Thanks Mark, Emma and Yannis,

you made my day! there is a little bit of light dazzling at the end of the tunnel..

At the moment I live in north London (picadilly line, bounds green), but we are looking for another flat, we may move anywhere in quick reach of the center.

Having a car obviously would be the best option, but no way I can afford it at the moment. No actually it sounds like the ONLY sane option... Well renting seems to be an option, but it's quite costy. Maybe some of you leave in London or on the way to the south coast, are in a similar situation and would like to share a rented car for the week end ?

I looked at Hove yesterday actually. It's only one hour away from London and the train to get there is cheap (for once). How is the windsurfing scene there ? Is it realistic to think that there would be at least 2 weekends a month with good winds (only have a 7.2 at the moment so i suppose it would be good for 4 beauforts but maybe not much more). Also what about the tides/currents ? Any rescue support ? I suppose I should give the club a shout tomorrow. I thought they were not running during the winter.

I just checked Whitstable, it sounds great but it's a bit further and the train to get there is not so cheap...

So for now i think it's reasonable to think about trying Hove, and see if later I can find 4 wheels to join you lot. I love the idea of meeting regularly on different spots, that it sounds like the promise of brilliant times.. I could always rent a car and join you if you are not too far from Hove a weekend.

Pierre (thinking going back to freelancing and being available during the week too...)

Added by Prem on 28/09/13

Hi Pierre/ others

I am always looking for windsurfing buddies down here in bournemouth, I am intermediate only really sail in Poole harbour have a lot of kit but not much time. Would love to sea sail more and get to grips with waterstarting.... Can anyone help or team up



Added by rogerta on 28/09/13


My advice, stay in Poole harbour until your water starting is second nature. No point scaring yourself out at sea because you are still struggling water starting. Poole Harbour is one of safest venues around for getting your gybes and water starting sorted before venturing into the sea - especially as we are approaching winter. If you are struggling with water starts, make sure you have your beach starts down pat. Only difference between the two is you have no anchor point when water starting.
Due respect to you all for the lengths you've/you're going to in order to satisfy your wind addiction - we take it for granted living next to the coast.

Added by Prem on 28/09/13

Thanks for that advice rogerta its kinda what I have been doing as a default position coz of some hairy moments out at sea!

Added by Audrey on 28/09/13

Hi Pierre
I escaped London for the delights of Hove about 8 years ago and wish I'd done it sooner! Shoreham and Worthing are about 20/30 minutes away and when you're not windsurfing then Hove has lots to offer!

Added by pitsikoko on 29/09/13

Hi Audrey, all,

I started looking at Hove flats ! When I arrived in the UK 6 years ago I first lived in Manchester. A year after I moved in Nottingham, then one more year and I moved to Guildford then London where I stayed 3 years, but it may be just because I went back to uni... Looks like a logically trajectory to continue moving toward the south ! Not sure if I can do it right now, but i'm on it !

I got in contact with the club at Hove, it all sounds good except club is closed during 4 months in winter with no hot shower. Doesn't matter warm tea or cold beer will do...

I'm also wondering about one thing. I'm used to windsurf in Greece in Andros at George Fragos club (first a very nice guy but also a very talented windsurfer, if you either spend holidays there go to see him! also teaches in Athens in the winter). That means I'm next to a club and they are patrolling while giving lessons and the water is quite flat, at least no wave. I have no problem to come back to shore and didn't need the boat last summer, but what if the equipment breaks or if I get myself injured ?

On windy days are there always other windsurfers on the water? I'm wondering how you sail without taking stupid risks.


Added by brav on 29/09/13

Hi Pierre,

I'd recommend Calshot (if noone has already). There's a safe lagoon at high tide to practice in - where I seem to spend most of my time these days after quite a break from sailing these past years - and when you feel more confident you can head out the front. You'll need a car - rent one for the day should be do'able in London (e.g. streetcar can be quite handy). Usually loads of other folk down there even in winter on windy days so always folk around if you are worried about getting into trouble - usual windsurfing lot are pretty friendly - though if you're in the lagoon it's easy enough to get back. Let people know if you are heading down at a weekend as can then meet up. Andrew

Added by rogerta on 29/09/13

Hi Pierre
Bottom line is you shouldn't be windsurfing on the open sea in winter unless you are confident in your abilities and know how to get yourself out of trouble. There is no support cover on the south coast like you would expect in Greece at a club in summer and the conditions will be dramatically different - tides, currents, swell, water temp and wind chill effect - all go to making it a very different experience. Build your confidence up on a lake first or go to somewhere like Calshot during the winter. The fact you are asking the question indicates you probably aren't ready. Don't take this the wrong way but IMHO there's no point getting yourself into trouble and losing your confidence as a result.

Added by Yannis on 29/09/13

Hey Pierre, does the club in Andros have a website? I can find bits of related content but not a dedicated website.


Added by pitsikoko on 29/09/13

Hi Rogerta,

Thanks for the advices, very appreciated. And you are right the conditions are massively different, and even if you don't need it, to know that someone is watching you is definitely a boost in confidence.

But what about going at the south coast in 4bft with cross winds? Isn't there some places with not too much current, and swell when the tide is right ? I'm considering stocking my kit at my local pond anyway, but i still would like to start going to the coast, as long as the conditions are good and i'm not alone.

Hi Yannis,

They used to be on St Peters Beach next to Gavrio until this year where they moved to Kypri beach. Location is convenient caused cause 2 hours ferry from athens and near the port. Their old website is www.windsurfingingreece.com, now this club is run by another guy but website not updated.

I don't think they have a website yet, but they have a facebook : https://www.facebook.com/Wesurfin.

During winter I think the club is closed, Georges is teaching at other clubs in Athens but I can't remember the name. I think he finished 2nd in olympic qualification for Greece last year, and he has no sponsor... can't believe it! he is so enthusiastic, so humble and seems to enjoy so much teaching to kids too

Added by Mark on 29/09/13


Refining my suggestion on the basis you want to sail straight, away.
I would forget hove for the time being. Unless you can get a short membership (I once got a three month membership)

From a Londoners perspective, when the prevailing winds start to have a northerly component, as they often do in winter, the last place you want to travel to, is to south coast venues like hove.

When its a north easterly the wind on hayling or hove, isn't that much better than queen mary, and combine that with the short days, and maybe an unfavourable tide, is not where I would head.

For a day trip in a northerly I often head to minster (you might be able to get there by train, and there is a small club there where maybe you might be able to leave your gear...)

Come spring I would definitely recommend hove lagoon, if your still using public transport.

Other option you might consider is Weymouth (the sailing academy), that is an excellent sailing location for the equipment you have, its safe and you can sail all through the winter there. You might be able to store your gear., but its a bit of hike, but there is youth hostel close, so it might be an option if can sail all weekend etc.

Check out city car, it was cheaper than street car.

If I was in your shoes, I would rent a car and head to hayling island when the winds are from the south east/west or minster when they are from the north east/west on good forecasts, and queen mary or dachet otherwise.

Come spring I would buy a car/van and/or join hove lagoon.

If Weymouth turns out to a good option, I would be happy to drop you gear down there, as I will be there a few times over October/November.


Added by pitsikoko on 30/09/13

Hi Mark

I really appreciated your help, and thanks a lot for your offer to help me to bring my kit to Weymouth, it's really kind..

A lot of very interesting options. It seems to me that my best option at the moment would be to become a member of Queen Mary sailing club until April, store my kit there and use public transport to get there at the week end, all of that is possible and they have winter membership and storage. Maybe if I get a second hand 8.5 rig somewhere - last time I tried one of those, it was heavy, and felt like driving a truck. Could continue working on my gybes, learn to waterstart and practice in light winds. After that I may join Hove or just try to get a car.

I'll try to find a roof-rack too, so I could join you at the week-end when you are going to places that suit my abilities. I looked at citycar and others too, I think renting a car may actually be cheaper for day travel, especially after 100 miles which is very quickly done!

Btw very nice informations on the venues guide on this website, well done it's very useful!

Thank you so much for all your help all of you, very much appreciated.

Looking forward to meet you somewhere on the coast soon!


Added by yoli on 30/09/13

Hi Pierre

We live in Hove and are about to rent our flat out (message me if you're interested!). It's only 5 mins walk to the beach and Hove Lagoon, 7 mins walk to the train station. And we built a storage cupboard in the garden especially for windsurf kit! Steve has sailed alot on Hove seafront, where the lagoon is- great little spot. I couldn't recommend Hove more highly- easy to London, fun by Brighton and easy access all along the south coast.

All the best with your decision. You will get alot of great advice on this site. And always a friendly face at OMWC events.

Added by brav on 30/09/13

Pierre - let me know how you get on negotiating cost of membership for QMSC ... I found it quite expensive. Brav

Added by Mark on 01/10/13

More tips :)

Queen mary and dachet both do day sailing,
Forget the 8.5 on that board, save your money, if you give up on the coast, sure a bigger sail and board makes sense.
Roof racks, try this soft racks, store.magicseaweed.com/Complete-Soft-Racks/Browse/
amazing what you can get on a hire car :)

Added by pitsikoko on 02/10/13

Thank you but it's not an option at this time, i literally just found a job opportunity in central london.

around 200 for the winter (october to march inclusive), including storage. I'm planning to go there thursday or friday.

Day sailing sounds like the right option if I had a car. As far as I understand Datchet doesn't offer storage. I can reach both easily (with patience) in public transport. And it doesn't prevent me to rent a car, go there, pick up my kit from there and head to the coast.

What about the 8.5? is it too big for the board ? it fits within the manufacturer range from their website but i wouldn't be surprise if they pushed it slightly above the comfort zone. I'm 85 kilos if that make any difference. I was thinking in eventually investing in one of these second hand 8.5 NP Helium which seems light and accept a 460. I'm sure this kind of sail is slow and crap but at least you get planning. Also I can rent bigger/smaller sail at Queen mary at the moment.


Added by Mark on 02/10/13

I am sure you can put the 8.5 on the xcite, not sure it will have make a huge difference, in those circumstances.

Comment made on the basis that if your renting a car, and driving to the coast, I would be looking to get a 6m sail to go with the 7.2 you already had before I went the other way.

If you end up doing a lot of sailing at queen mary you'll get an idea of what works best.