Weather and sailing information
We collect the weather information from various sources, giving you the best on-site condition information in the UK. Understanding what's going on though can be a fine art. Here are some tips on how to interpret the information and how what sort of conditions you can expect to see at the beach when you get there.
Note: This information is specific to the weather and wave patterns at West Wittering beach.
Spring tides at Wittering come close to the 5m mark on the tide height chart, neaps are at the lower end of the 4m mark and below. High tide combined with springs can produce some demanding conditions if the wind and waves are up: a slight shore dump combined with undertow make launching difficult and only the more advanced sailors tend to head out in these conditions. From 2 hours either side of high tide, the shore dump and rip reduce, making it an ideal sailing time. As low tide approaches, the sailing area is protected by a sweeping sandbar 500m offshore from the high water line. Even at low tide, the tail-end of the sandbar can produce decent rideable waves, but the beauty of Wittering is that it's up to you whether to stay in the perfectly flat lagoon, or head out into the rough stuff.
For the wavesailors amongst you, the sand bars move around after big storms - at the moment the best waves are at low to mid-tide at the end of the sandbar. High tide waves are currently best two groynes down from the launch area or further up into the estuary depending on wind direction.
Typical wave height reading from the bar are between 0.5m and 1.5m. Anything above that means there's some significant swell around, although remember to check the periodicity to find out if it's swell that will create nice waves. For the flat water sailors, any wave height below 1.5m will not be sufficient to bridge the sandbar, so the flat water remains relatively well protected a few hours either side of low tide.
Note that on a receding tide, wave height always seems to increase slightly on Chichester bar as the current fights against the incoming swell.
The periodicity of the waves dictates their spacing. Only when wave height is significant is this a useful measurement. Big spacing means well defined swell patterns and a definite must for all wave sailors. The perfect wave sailing conditions happen a handful of times during the year at Wittering. It requires a good few days of strong SW winds with significant swell, followed by a slight drop in wind speed and a wind direction swing to NW. This can produce cross-offshore rideable waves...
The prevailing wind direction for most of the South coast is SW. At Wittering this produces cross-onshore conditions. With the sandbar protecting the sailing area, cross-onshore winds allow you to sail up and down the lagoon in peace 2 hours either side of low tide. Once the sandbar is covered, small chop and waves are able to enter the sailing area providing excellent conditions in which to progress.
For flatwater sailors, NW to E wind produce offshore winds and therefore beautifully flat water conditions suitable for speed sailing. Offshore winds are, in general, to be avoided though as any mistake or kit failure could see you drifting away from the beach. The prevailing SW winds provide perfect flatwater sailing when the sailing area is protected by the sand bar (2 hours either side of low tide).