In the Surf – Guide to Watersports on the Wight
The Isle of Wight is, not surprisingly, a fantastic location to have a go at a wide range of watersports from kitesurfing and paddle boarding, to kayaking or surfing. Being surrounded by water, means that no matter what the tide or wind direction there will always be a spot perfect for you to get out on the waves. It is exactly this reason that makes it so popular with professionals, that and the good waves and the fact that you can always find a beach that is ideal for your sport.
Whatever watersport takes your fancy - there are loads of places across the Island where you can learn safely, with instructors who can impart that important Islander info on the best places to give it a go.
Certain beaches are better for getting out on your board: the beaches around the south coast are more popular with surfers as the waves in the English Channel are far larger than those in the Solent. Surfers do use Yaverland, Sandown through to Shanklin and Ventnor but it is Brook and Compton that are probably the most popular beaches for surfing, along with Freshwater Bay. Kitesurfers tend to congregate at Yaverland, Ryde and Brook, depending on the wind direction and for windsurfing Bembridge and the south east coast seem to be used most often, although Totland and Colwell Bay are also popular.
We've complied a guide to the top places to learn to get very wet this season...
Wight Waters is on Dunroamin beach between Sandown and Shanklin and offers surfing and bodyboarding, windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing and sailing courses. An ideal location for learning watersports, with shallow waters and a sandy beach, windsurfing courses range from taster sessions to RYA Advanced instructor courses, surfing and kayaking are given in beginners, intermediate and advanced courses.
Billed as ‘the Isle of Wight’s coolest watersports centre’ Wight Waters certainly does have an impressive team. Started by Ian and Ceri Williams back in 1984, Wight Waters is now run by Ceri’s stepson Scott Gardner who has competed in national and international surfing and windsurfing championships and his brother Ross who was crowned European Formula Windsurfing Champion 2012. Aaron Williams is also a professional windsurfer and former champion, and now looks after their retail shop Earth, Wind and Water in Shanklin where all equipment can be purchased.
iSurf specialise in teaching surfing and stand up paddle boarding (SUP) on the whole range of different beaches that the Isle of Wight has to offer as they are a fully mobile surf school. Run by Surfing GB qualified surf coach Chris Mannion, who has been riding waves (and wiping out!) for nearly 20 years, Chris started teaching surfing on the Isle of Wight at just 16 years of age so is confident he knows the best and safest surfing spots the Island has to offer.
iSurf provides tuition for both adults and children from the age of eight and surfing can be taught in groups or on a one to one basis. When you get to the beach iSurf will kit you up with an Xcel wetsuit to keep you from getting cold in the water and you use Alder’s range of soft surfboards that are made of a material similar to a body board. iSurf are also able to film and photograph your lesson so you can watch and see yourself surfing.
From its campus and marina in Cowes, UKSA’s team of experienced and fully-qualified instructors provide a comprehensive range of ocean-based training; making sailing and watersports accessible to everyone.
There are courses in everything from kayaking and windsurfing, moving up through dinghy and keelboat sailing to yachting in which you can take skippering, yachtmaster and cruising qualifications. As a registered youth charity, UKSA is committed to inspiring children to get out on the water and try new experiences, as well as running school residential and day trips, special watersports programmes are run during the school summer holidays giving those as young as eight the opportunity to earn recognised qualifications.
If the wind is up and the conditions are right Windstalker Island Kitesports are likely to be on the waves around the Isle of Wight teaching others how to kitesurf with confidence. You just ring Jane and Eric Harris at Windstalker to book a lesson and they’ll tell you where to be and meet you there with all the kit. Eric Harris started off as a land-boarder and then took up kitesurfing and is now a very experienced teacher of both sports. He’s especially good with more advanced students, teaching tricks and different moves in serious one to one sessions, but equally good with new students. Jane has been kite surfing for over four years and is great with newcomers.
Once you’ve got the bug you can buy your own kit as Windstalker are Cabrinha stockists - they can do all kite repairs too. Windstalker can also store your equipment for you if you’re an Island visitor and bring it to the beach for you when you come down, which is really handy.
Based on the water’s edge at St Helen’s Duver on the eastern side of the Island, Tackt-Isle Adventures has all the kit on hand, and a team of highly motivated and experienced instructors. The brainchild of Ben Smith, a marine sports science graduate and Tackt-Isle’s chief action man, Smith has clocked up an impressive history of outdoor adventures having grown up on the Island. You can also try windsurfing or one of the kayak or paddleboard sessions exploring the sights in and around the picturesque Bembridge Harbour. All you do is just learn the basics in a ‘Muck in’ session or hire a pro to guide you. Or why not try SUP Yoga sessions with Emma, a real core strength tester!
Adventure Activities Isle of Wight
When it comes to having an adventure on the Isle of Wight – be it on land or on water - Adventure Activities Isle of Wight are the masters of having fun and learning new skills, with lessons in kayaking, coasterering and paddleboarding at their bases in Freshwater Bay and Sandown. Set up 11 years ago by husband and wife team Owen and Michelle Burson, Adventure Activities IoW now have bases in Sussex, Dorset, Hampshire, Essex as well as the Isle of Wight. The Island is definitely the best place to get out on the water though!
Newly established by Matthew Randell in 2016, Rebel Marine is based at Fishbourne Quay near Wootton and offers a range of water sports equipment for hire including RIB’s, Paddle Boards, Kayaks and sailing dinghy’s - perfect if you are visiting the Island and just want to hire some water sports equipment during your holiday.
11 April 2016