Sailing at Calshot
Calshot Spit is a great location for kitesurfing, windsurfing, SUP & kayaking with a variety of sailing conditions from butter flat water behind the shingle bars at mid-low water, right through to rolling swell at high tide. If you don't like the conditions wait a couple of hours & it'll change!
This spot can be used in any wind direction with the prevailing SW wind blowing cross shore. During the summer, sea breezes blow from the South West and are funnelled down the Solent between the mainland and the Isle of Wight. This, combined with the fact that the sea breeze is generated from both the island and the mainland can lead to some incredibly windy afternoons.
Wind directions for Calshot are: NE - Cross shore from the left, SE - Onshore, SW - Cross shore from the right
Wind directions that work for the pond behind the spit: NNW - NE
The general sea state depends on the wind direction and also the state of tide, at lowish tides there is an area of flat water off the beach which begins to lump up as you get further out. At high tide the water state can be quite lumpy but there is little in the way of shore break provided that you chose you’re launch point carefully. As the tide turns against wind the water can become quite confused and choppy making sailing quite challenging. The Bramble bank out in the middle of the Solent can give some quite large waves but you will have to sail over the shipping channel to reach it. There is a wide variety of different sea states allowing the sailor to use anything between flat water and moderate rolling swell if you know where to find it.
On the lighter wind days the Solent is an ideal cruising location with Calshot located quite centrally giving good sailing access to Lepe in the West, the second closest point to the Isle of Wight (a 4-5 minute blast beach to beach in a South Wester). Cowes to the South although the mouth of the river is to be avoided as it is very busy area for yachts and ferries. To the east it is an easy sail across to Hill-head and Lee-on-Solent although you will have to watch out for larger ships using the shipping channel. The tidal flows in the Solent are complex and this, with the large number of marker buoys located around the area make it a great tactical racing location.
Calshot is one of the few spots on the south coast were you can sail in any northerly winds with north/north east winds coming straight in to the bay on the back side of the spit giving safe sailing, onshore winds and flat water blasting for around 4 hours during the high water period. The pond behind the spit is a brilliant flat water spot for freestyle. It is accessible for kite surfing between 1st November & 31st March. Windsurfers can use it all year and access it from all sides. The launch for kiters is from the beach by the Sopwith hangar (members only), or over by the power station (public). The bottom of the pond is muddy & it drains out at mid-low tide, so you need to be able to stay upwind. Please don't overfly the boats or the road on the southern side of the pond. Even if you're not a member respect the summer closure for kiting on the pond. Respect should be given to anglers on the spit - Please talk to them and try to avoid any conflict if you're kiting in the pond.
North easterlies to easterlies give cross to cross onshore conditions at the front of the spit - an ideal direction for kitesurfing behind the sand bar at mid to low tides. On neap tides there is a large shallow lagoon formed on the Solent side of the spit giving chest to knee deep water up to 500 yards off shore all day long making it an ideal spot for learning. The spit (just above water level at this state of tide) gives a very good safety stop in a south-westerly wind.
There is a lot of tidal flow moving around the spit. Wind with tide will make it hard to hold your ground once the sand bar is covered. Ask at 24-7 Boardsports for an ABP tide table & current site information. For more information on kiting at Calshot, check out the kitesurfinguk.org.uk guide. Club membership is available from Calshot Activities Centre or 24-7 Boardsports for just £65 for the year. Covering parking, kit wash off, the use of showers and changing rooms. Club membership is mandatory for kitesurfers. Instant membership can be obtained at the 24-7 Boardsports shop. For windsurfers parking can also be had on a daily basis either on the activity centre site (£6 per day park and launch) or outside the gates in the public Pay and Display car park. Parking tickets can be obtained from the machines & also the shop.
Lepe country park which as mentioned above gives even better sailing in a westerly and can often boast about a force above Calshot in West and Southwest wind directions. The area is serviced by 24-7 Boardsports (formally Solent Sailboards) which is located on the activity centre site just 20 yards from the water. We specialise in windsurfing, kitesurfing, SUP's, kayaks, wetsuits & accessories.