As well as a beautiful beach, and we think some of the most stunning sunsets around, Bracklesham Bay has become one of the best places on the south coast to spot kite surfers – that’s humans, not birds.
It’s fascinating to watch while you are enjoying a cup of coffee and a slice of homemade cake from our café. The more experienced surfers glide along the surface of the water like swans, but it’s more exciting to watch the newbies.
“It’s quite funny to watch and you end up silently willing them on. But it’s a really safe sport so the surfers always come back for more,” said James Fitch, owner of Bracklesham Board Riders, and our neighbour here on the beach.
So why Bracklesham Bay?
“It’s a really safe, gently shelving beach,” says James, “with a south-westerly wind which blows surfers back onto the beach rather than out to sea. And it’s really sandy, something people don’t realise as they often just see the shingle at high tide.”
And you don’t have to be a member of any club to kite surf at Bracklesham Bay – anyone can take their kit down to the shore and start rigging up. All you need is an annual insurance, about £30, and you are good to go.
The sport has grown dramatically in the last 10 years as people have cottoned onto the fact it is easier to learn than windsurfing. And the equipment is more transportable – the board itself is barely more than a metre long and the rest of the kit can be folded up into a rucksack. So, you can even reach us by train or bus, with your kit under your arm and on your back.
You need to have a certain level of fitness, but it is a sport for all ages. One of the regulars at Bracklesham Bay is a young 72.
However, if you are happier being a spectator, then the best time to spot kite surfers is during low tide as they need the large expanse of sand to lay out their kit and rig up. It’s an all-year-round sport although the learners tend to come out in the summer when it’s warmer, as they spend a lot more time in the water than on the board.
But the hardcore, experienced kite surfers are a hardy bunch. “It can be horizontal rain and just four degrees, but you will still see the regulars out there on the water,” adds James.
If you are really lucky, you will spot Aaron Hadlow, five times Kite Surfing World Champion, who frequently pays Bracklesham Bay a visit. You’ll know it’s him as he’ll be the one doing breath-taking airborne tricks. Or maybe the former British Kite Surfing Champion Lewis Crathern, another frequent visitor, and famous for jumping Brighton and Worthing piers. Sadly, no piers here at Bracklesham Bay, but their skills will leave you speechless – just don’t let your beer-battered fish and chips grow cold while you are watching.
*If you want to check out Bracklesham Beach or the weather down here from the comfort of your office chair, then Bracklesham Board Riders have a live web cam and a weather station. Find them here, you might just spot a kite surfer or two www.kitesurfcam.co.uk www.brackleshamweather.co.uk