|Southbourne - like Ho'okipa, but easier to spell|
All the regular contributors to this blog are pretty spoilt, living at most a two minute drive from Southbourne. Which is a bit like a cold water Ho’okipa. (I’m assuming that, I’ve never been to Ho’okipa). Avon beach is fifteen minutes away, and at times that just seems too far to go for a windsurf. Clyde needs to take his board to the repair shop, but since it’s at least a twenty minute drive – there and back – it’s taken him months. The worst offender is Colin, who lives in his penthouse flat overlooking the beach, hasn’t worked since May, and still hardly ever gets around to going windsurfing. Or even getting up. But sometimes one or another of us manages to persuade a cohort to get in a van and explore a bit of this glorious coastline. Today was one such day. The forecast was as close to a sure thing as we seem to get these days. Solidly windy all day, sunny, and a meaty winter swell. Despite never sailing there and having no idea whatsoever, I convinced Clyde and Colin that Ringstead would be working, so we piled his van full of kit, set up his 18 month old son with a few pictures of tractors on the Ipad (there was a baby sitter involved as well) and got going.
It’s only about an hour through Bournemouth and across the Purbecks, but that’s plenty of time to convince yourself there’s no wind, or there won’t be any swell, or the tides will be wrong. Clyde has a history of clinically depression brought on by sailing at Kimmeridge when he thinks he should be at Southbourne and he was beginning to mutter about previous times he’d been dragged away against his will. And those trees did look pretty still.
But when we came down the hill into Ringstead we first saw a good sized set of waves on the reef, and then about seven or eight sails blasting around. There was plenty of wind. The conversation went from how to get Colin a girlfriend back to windsurfing and Clyde brought the van skidding to a stop.
An hour is also plenty of time to get quite warm and cosy with the heater on full – not a problem when driving two minutes down the road – and when that seven degrees hit (not forgetting to take a bit off for windchill) things slowed down a bit. We went to have a look, and as we walked down the little lane to the beach, a procession of windsurfers were on their way back. One guy was kind enough to explain why, the tide was dropping fast, and rocky bits of reef were already starting to show in the white water. It turned out he’d been there from 8.30 in the morning and we’d basically missed it. We asked if it would it be any good if we went out now, he said you could sail it but not in the waves. Bollocks. One guy was still out, taking his chances with the rocks for a few more runs, and he caught enough waves to show the potential of the place.
The car park emptied while we were wondering what to do. The thought of a coffee 15 minutes away at Overcombe proved tempting, and one of the locals had mentioned he was going to check it on his way home, so we piled back in the van and began to drive up the hill. At which point we nearly crashed into Nick Dempsey in his racing Volvo with a quad tied to the roof by what looked like guy ropes from a tent. He said Ringstead could get good again once the reef was fully showing, and Overcombe would be offshore and crap. This meant we had two locals giving us entirely conflicting advice. We couldn’t trust a man who didn’t own roofrack straps, so chose to listen to the random local bloke with the nice van, rather than the double Olympic windsurfing medallist.
Overcombe was offshore and crap, and Clyde was beginning to excite the dog with his whimpering noises. Usually a sign he needs to get back to Southbourne as soon as possible. So we made the only possible remaining call, and went to Kimmeridge.
To be honest I loved it. It was an onshore mess with white water all over the place, and incredibly busy. And quite gusty. But I got a great tip for back loops the other day, and really enjoyed the acres of flats before the waves for boosting some really high attempts. The tip wasn’t that good, since I didn’t land any.
So it wasn’t quite the road trip we expected, ending up with just another sail at Kimmeridge, but there would be something wrong with you to complain. I expect Clyde will be along to do just that any minute – but he might also add a few photos!