The UK and Ireland provide some incredible windsurfing conditions and, if you can figure out a good work/life/windsurf balance, there are plenty of hours on the water up for grabs, especially over the summer months.
It’s not always as easy as we would wish to get regular windsurfing sessions in though; BOARDS is joined by five top level, UK based windsurfers to recount their best sessions of 2014 and share advice on how you can secure your own in 2015. From working in the industry for an understanding boss, to meticulous planning around an altogether different career, these windsurfers manage to juggle it all and are here to explain how you can too. First up it’s…
Andy ‘Bubble’ Chambers
2014 was a strange year for me as I was starting my first year as the full time UK Brand Manager for JP Australia and NeilPryde Windsurfing and SUP. It was the first time I’ve felt that my career as a professional windsurfer was starting to peter out. I was still managing to get to all of the PWA Freestyle events and the BWA events but in between I was at home in the UK surfing a desk rather than a board! It was also the first time I’ve noticed that without windsurfing all the time, my fitness level and confidence deteriorated. It wasn’t a skill thing, I could still do the moves but I lost confidence in going for them under pressure or in certain conditions.
This was a bit of a killer for me especially after so many years of windsurfing in amazing places around the world and competing on the world tour. I actually went through quite a long period of being a bit depressed and having a big fear of missing out, especially when you see all the Facebook updates and pictures of your friends all around the world doing what you would normally be doing at the time.
Luckily for me, I have a wonderful girlfriend and some great friends, including a very understanding boss, who are all very supportive by making my home life a great environment to be in and making me see that the UK has so much to offer in terms of windsurfing, surfing and SUPing. Yes, it is a big change to be behind a desk or driving around the country visiting shops instead of being somewhere around the world windsurfing, but sometimes change is a good thing. I feel much happier about my future and I guess the next stage of my life. I’m making it sound like I have given up windsurfing completely, but that’s not true at all. You can definitely work out ways to help you get out on the water more, no matter what you are doing.
Birthday beers and barby on the beach!!! #downhillfromhere #birthday A photo posted by Andy Bubble Chambers (@bubblek540) on
Some of the best sessions I had in 2014 were in and around my new home spots of Christchurch Harbour, Avon Beach, Southbourne Beach and Kimmeridge. Throughout the year K Bay produced some awesome surfing and SUP conditions as well as a few nice down the line windsurfing days. Christchurch Harbour and Avon beach have been great places for freestyle as well. We’ve found a couple of great spots to go in certain wind directions and tides. Christchurch works in wind directions that not many other places on the south coast work in. Also, we found a great place to park and launch right in the middle near a little sandy island that has perfect flat water behind.
One of the most memorable freestyle sessions I had was at Avon Beach. It was super low tide and a strong westerly wind. There are two sandbars at Avon, one on the inside about 50 m off the beach and another one on the outside about another 100-150 m from the inside one. On a spring low tide both sandbars are out of the water leaving an epic flat-water lagoon in between and about waist to chest deep the whole way across. Myself, my girlfriend Philly and a couple of other friends sailed until dark, for about three hours! And that was after a full day of work in the office!
I appreciate that these sort of days don’t happen all the time and that we only get these light evening days in the summer but still it’s right on our doorstep and it was awesome! I managed to plan my work days around the wind as well, so was actually able to take advantage of a lot of good sailing days. By looking at the forecast I could work out when I needed to get certain jobs done and then go and have a session for a couple of hours before finishing off what I needed to get done later that day or in the evening. Also having a plan helps, making sure the van has all the right gear in that I need so I can get to the beach quick and get out on the water. With the wonders of modern technology these days as well it meant that I could literally sit in the van at the beach and carry on doing my work until the conditions were good! It’s not always worked out like that though and I have missed a few good sessions as well.
Another tip is to try and faff less! I do see a lot of faffing when I get to the beach! Have the gear in the van ready; get to the beach, rig and go! Sometimes going to a spot closer to home for not as good conditions somewhere else, means you will get more time on the water as well. Basically, what I am trying to say is make a plan! For example, leave late on a Friday night and drive down to the coast or Cornwall on a good forecast with all the toys in the van for an epic adventure weekend!
As most windsurfer’s partners will know, we are not the best at getting dates in diaries a long time in advance, especially on weekends! Because we all know that Sod’s law will mean that it’s going to be epic somewhere whilst you’re off doing something that you would rather not be. This is where the understanding partner comes in. They need to understand that without windsurfing when it’s windy will mean you will be a right old miserable bugger for a considerable amount of time!
So all in all, yes I have had a massive change in lifestyle, and yes I didn’t cope well at first, but with good people around you and a (very) understanding boss and girlfriend and a bit of planning, you will be able to make good use of the great conditions around the UK.