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Category Archive: Cornwall kitesurf spot guide

  1. Cornwall Spot Guide No. 12: Marazion

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    Wave rating: 3/5

    Flat water rating: 3/5

    Max wave power: mushy, high tide shorey can bite.

    A typical South wind with a bit o' swell day at Mazza

    A huge great shallow bay popular with windsurfers, freestylers and wave riders on the days when it can produce a nice, mellow, long workable wall with perfect orientation to the cross onshore winds. Can get wild and big but usually Marazion is a relatively mellow option.

    Marazion is tucked right up out of the way of West swells, but a 3m plus swell with a long period (12 seconds or more) will bend in there. South West swells and South wind swells will find their way in much easier, but owing to the shallow slope of the beach and the convex refraction wave, the waves lack power – until high tide when a nasty shore break can appear.

    If you turn up and there is no one else on the water, there’s probably a good reason for that so watch it carefully before rigging up. The hazards though are fairly obvious: a whacking great sea wall and a road running directly behind it.

    This used to be a go-to option on South winds when I couldn’t face the murky waters of Par, but since kites have got better I now head to Watergate Bay on a South wind for some cross offshore waveriding.

    Sailing against the backdrop of Penzance

    Launching

    Do not launch and land two hours either side of high tide. Plenty of space on the beach, coarse sand (tiny pebbles?) to weigh your kite down with.

    Winds

    South East through to South West via South provide varying angles of onshore.

    Map to show Mazza, facing south

     

     

  2. Cornwall Spot Guide No. 11: The Bluff

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    All-terrain spot

    Wave rating: 3/5

    Flat water rating: 5/5

    One of Cornwall’s most famous and beloved kitesurfing locations. The Bluff yields superb wind against tide flat water conditions on the later half of a dropping tide,  rolling slopey kickers for boosting off of the rest of the time and typical Cornish beach break waves at low tide. Personally, I don’t like riding here that much because a) I never ride a twin tip so don’t seek flat water and b) everytime I’ve been wave riding there, it’s been a bit of a closeout with no much shape to it, and it gets crowded with windsurfers.

    Waveriding at The Bluff on a westerly.

    Quite a few people sail here when it’s blowing from the South or South West, but I feel there are too many holes in the wind for it to be a lot of fun then. Produces much smaller waves than you’d find down the beach at Gwithian due to the northerly aspect and shelter from St. Ives’ peninsula, so it can be a good option for when everywhere else is too big to be of much use / fun / safe.

    Even at high tide, there is a sandy bank to rig up on.

    The Bluff is tenuously open to kiters who are members of the KKC. Check the KKC webby for rules and regs before riding here please.

    Just to the north of The Bluff, it's a real all-terrain haven

    Launching

    At low tide, so much space. At high tide there’s a soft sandy bank to rig up on.

    Winds

    North West is onshore and ideal for the flat water rivermouth. West is cross shore and gusty.

    Restrictions

    Go to KKC for full details of club membership etc… required to ride here. In short, keep 100m away from boats, and don’t ride inside the harbour area itself.

    A sea chart of The Bluff, showing channels where boats will come in and out (once every hundred thousand years or so)

  3. Cornwall Spot Guide No. 10: Mexico’s

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    Cross shore waveriding

    Wave rating: 3/5

    Flat water rating: 2/5

    OK so there is some freestyle potential here, for certain!

    Halfway along Hayle Bay between The Bluff and Gwithian, you’ll find Mexico’s beach. Named after a pub that’s no longer there, it has a wild, windy feel to it and is backed entirely by sand dunes.

    This is a good place to head to when a strong SW is blowing in conjunction with a heaving swell. Mexico’s is not as sheltered as The Bluff but seems to clean the swell up a bit better than Gwithian, and it will be more manageable here when it’s huge.

    A typical day producing whackable sections at Mexico's

    At pure spring low tides, it creates a nasty closeout dumping wave, but an hour or so after that, right up till high (if you’re comfortable with it, there is a tiny landing strip at where the dune path meets the beach) you’ll find some nice walls to get a few hits in on.

    There’s a massive downwind run-off area if it all goes wrong, and unless you’re trying to sail it with a bolt offshore wind, your chances of finding your way back to shore are as high as anywhere. Overall I think it’s an alright spot, but the wave lacks the shape of Gwithian further up and lacks the size of Watergate to the north, so it’s kind of a compromise on both counts. However it is a beautiful place to sail and you can usually find space to yourself, or indeed share with other riders if you want some company.

    Launching

    Loads of space till about two hours before spring high. Backed by dunes so more forgiving than some places if it goes wrong.

    Wind

    Best in South West round to West, cross off – cross on from the left.

    Car Park

    The car park is a shit-hole but it is privately owned and the bastards will put a ticket on your windscreen if you don’t pay and display.

    Mexico's, up the beach and to the right.

  4. Cornwall Spot Guide No. 9: Gwithian

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    Left hand bombers!

    Wave rating: 5/5

    Flat water rating: 2/5

    Doing this as a three part post featuring Gwithian, Mexico’s and The Bluff. I tend to head here in the winter and late autumn. From July to September, the best part of this beach is off limits: north of the large rock on the  beach.

    Gwithian is part of the large Hayle Sands beach that runs from Godrevy to St. Ives. It’s named after an ancient Celtic princess called Gwythyan and it feels like a mystical sort of place.

    A summer evening swell pumps at Gwithian

    Quite a swell catcher, on a South to South West wind a bombing left-hander rattles across the bay requiring you to hit it at warp speed to make the sections. Gets quite hollow and rather mean on occasion. On days with a bit of West in them, Gwithian still holds a bit of shape but you may be better off at Mexico’s.

    A top turn on a left-hander at Gwee-Land

    If you are feeling adventurous, you can work your way out to the reefs that lie offshore by the lighthouse. Go with at least two other kiters though, you’ll be so far out to sea your kite won’t be visible from shore.

    Sillsy eyeing up the next innocent section

    Launching

    I kite here around the low tide mark and clear off before it pushes in, cutting Gwithian off from Godrevy beach. Like this, there’s always loads of space.

    Winds

    South is cross off from the left, can be very up and down. South West is cross shore and more consistent. People kite here in a Northerly and North West.

    Restrictions

    11th July to 7th September between 10am and 6pm, no kiting at Gwithian (or Godrevy) north of the big rock pile on the beach. If in doubt, ask the lifeguards as they’ll be there at this time.

    Godrevy is the deeper beach at the top, Gwithian is the lower beach. Stay south of the marked rocks during lifeguard hours.

    NEXT GUIDE: Mexico’s

  5. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No. 8: Penhale

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    Big waves

    Wave rating: 4/5

    Flat water rating: 2/5

    It's all going on at Penhale; big waves in a SW

    Penhale is the huge stretch of sand to the north of Perranporth beach. Since kiting at Perranporth is banned, this is where you’ll head to. Park in the dunes car park at the Haven Holiday park and make sure you buy a ticket.

    The walk back up the dunes after your sesh is an absolute killer; you’ll be at the top before you go trying to judge the wind speed so you don’t have to bring too much kit, or worse, leave the right kite in the car.

    Big waves here, Penhale is a major swell catcher. I personally prefer surfing it, or kiting at Watergate because for some reason, Penhale is a real swine of a place to stay upwind at, at least that’s my experience. You can score long, big walls here, and once off low tide, you get some nice sheets of flat water on the inside for the twin tippers, though it’s also quite rippy.

    Dodging a close-out at Penhale

    Major doom awaits you if you go too far downwind on a South wind and crash your kite. Be sure to keep a marker on your position.

    Launching

    Absolutely massive beach at low tide. At high tide, you can still scrape a launch in a South wind. In onshores, I wouldn’t risk the high tide launch because of the uplift from the huge dunes.

    Winds

    South is cross-cross-off and pretty stable. Works round to West.

    Restrictions

    Perranporth has zones that are restricted, it’s a little bit complicated but if you stay up at Penhale, access the beach via the Haven Holiday Park and walk down the dunes, you’ll always be in the clear.

    See the big sand patch in the grassy dunes? That's the path you access and leave by. Check the campsite at the top, that's where you park.

  6. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No. 7: Crantock Beach

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    All-terrain

    Wave rating: 4/5

    Flat water rating: 3/5

    Crantock has all the wind exposure of a letter box and changes drastically throughout its tide range, but it’s a great little spot to kite under the right conditions and produces a wave that’s tailor made for kitesurfing whilst being not that attractive to other water users.

    Low tide Crantock in a storm swell

    Straight West winds, or WNW are the go here, the headlands on either side make anything with a lot of South or North in them very turbulent.  At low tide you’ve got a massive walk to the water across a huge, wide beach and you can expect a dirty, bone crunching wave slamming down in shallow water when the swell’s up. At high tide it fills right up but a large area of dry sand near the car park path make it the best launch option in the area when the tides in. Then, you’ll find flat sections and slopey long waves allowing turns.

    High tide Crantock. Thanks to www.tonyplant.com for the photo.

    The wind tends to be a bit stronger here thanks to the venturi effect of the Gannel Valley. Watch out for the River Gannel itself that hugs the Pentire headland, it’s only small but it could whisk a lost board inland or out to sea.

    Looking SW towards Crantock Beach from the Pentire Headland at high tide.

    Launching

    Loads of space to launch at low tide, naturally leave your kit at the top of the beach as the tide comes in FAST.

    Winds

    West or North West for onshore blasting. The waves clean up wonderfully here as they push up the beach.

    Restrictions

    No kiting during lifeguard hours. Watch our for people learning to surf, they can still be there in the worst winds.

    Low tide Crantock, the beach funnels into the River Gannel.


  7. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No.6: The River Gannel, Newquay

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    Rare but interesting flat water spot

    Flat water rating: 3/5

    This isn’t so much a kiting spot as somewhere that you could launch a kite and rattle along on a twin tip. Way upwind of Crantock, there’s a car park on the Newquay side where you walk down to the grass and rig up and launch without issue.

    Kitesurfing the River Gannel, Newquay

    Definitely a high tide spot and requiring a very specific wind direction. You’ll get about an hour or two at most of riding before the tide starts to drain, taking you with it. If you check it out at low tide (and you really should) you’ll see that it’s mostly quite shallow so therefore you can just walk out of trouble, BUT the mud is extremely slippery and this makes relaunching a kite that’s drifting on the tide impossible.

    Some rather obvious hazards here.

    Make sure you have a mate in a wetsuit standing by to help you out if you can’t relaunch, you could very quickly make a complete nuisance of yourself and probably get quite panicky otherwise. Watch out for the boats along the Newquay shore.

    He's 'mast'ered it.

    Launching

    Plenty of space upwind of the water on the grass, park at Tregunnel Hill.

    Winds

    Needs a SE blowing down the Gannel Valley.

    Restrictions

    Currently none, so take it steady.

    South East winds blow down the valley

    NEXT GUIDE: Crantock Beach

  8. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No. 5: Fistral Beach

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    Tight waveriding arena

    Wave rating: 5/5

    Flat water rating: 2/5

    I think Fistral is one of the most dangerous beaches in Cornwall you could reasonably kite at. This is because in a South West or West wind, you are automatically pulled downwind towards the rocks at Little Fistral, or worse, the Cribbar reef. On a large swell, it would be too easy to get overwhelmed and smashed up, so I could only recommend sailing here if you are confident in your abilities in surf.

    Bennet fades into a vague bowl

    This beach is naturally popular with just about everyone, and kiters are at the bottom of the list when it comes to priority – don’t be surprised if you are loudly reminded of that fact by paddle in surfers. I only ride here when it’s wind-blown, miserable and no one else is around, I absolutely could not recommend trying to kite here when the wind is marginal and there are people around. Kiting is forbidden during lifeguarded hours.

    Fistral Beach, filling up with tide on an offshore day

    If you get it right, I think Fistral is a superb beach break for waveriding in Cornwall, though I think it’s twin tip appeal is limited because it doesn’t get those big flat sheets of water that Watergate or Crantock get. The peak stays well defined and the waves have got some real punch. If the wind backs off a couple of knots (as it does in the evening after the lifeguards have gone), it’s definitely worth landing your kite and going out for a paddle.

    Looking North towards Towan Headland

    Launching

    You can launch at high tide, there is space, but your escape route will be non-existent. Mid to low (dropping tide) is best.

    Winds

    South West and West are good for left handers and upwind riding on rights. Works on a NW but there’s not much joy when it’s bang onshore.

    Restrictions

    No kiting during lifeguarded hours. Be sensitive to the large surfing population, if more than ten paddlers are out, it could be wise to try somewhere else.

    The Cribbar breaking about 1.5km away from where we were stood. Click this photo twice to enlarge.

    Fistral Beach faces WNW, catches and shapes a lot of swell.

    NEXT GUIDE: The River Gannel

  9. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No. 4: Newquay Bay

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    Chop and close out waves

    Wave rating: 2/5

    Flat water rating: 2/5

    Kiting at Towan with Great Western in the background.

    Newquay Bay is another one of those places where it is possible to kitesurf, but it wouldn’t make the top of anyone’s list. In its favour it works on any wind with North in it, and it is deserted during the wintertime and huge at low tide. From mid tide onwards, the beaches of Towan, Great Western, Tolcarne, Lusty Glaze and Porth become their own beaches and obvious hazards of rocks and headlands present themselves.

    Tolcarne Beach is big at low tide, and only at low tide.

    The waves are dreadful when it’s onshore, which is the only time you can kite here. Truthfully the only reason I kite here is because it’s on the way on a downwinder from Watergate to Fistral in a Northerly, though it can be interesting to sail whilst gazing up at the hotels and buildings of Newquay perched up on the cliff tops.

    My advice is to only head to the Bay when you want to surf and it's blowing SW.

    Launching

    Get there a couple of hours before low to make sure you’ve got space to land. Huge sandy areas.

    Winds

    Anything with North in it is good for the Bay.

    Restrictions

    No kiting during lifeguarded hours. Outside of this, if it’s busy with water users (quite possible), go to Watergate, it will nearly always be better. Oh, don’t mess about near any boats.

    Beaches l-r: Towan, Great Western, Tolcarne.

    NEXT GUIDE: Fistral Beach

  10. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No.3: Watergate Bay

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    All-terrain / big down the line waves

    The biggest beach break in Cornwall?

    Wave rating: 4/5

    Flat water rating: 3/5

    Watergate during the BKSA course racing. Lots of space!

    Watergate is really the best beach to be heading to when you’re in the Newquay area and it’s where I do 90% of my riding. It works in anything from a South round to a North wind. When the wind is cross shore, you can get stellar waveriding conditions, and though days that the North wind combines with the swell are rare, they produce excellent down the line right handers.

    Watergate in a southerly wind produces clean walls

    South winds often come in with a decent swell and twin tip appeal is limited as the wind is quite gusty and the wrong angle for exploiting the flat sheets between the white water on the inside. This is also the riskiest direction because it pulls you towards the foreboding rocks and cliffs of the North End; approach the South wind days after conducting a good risk assessment, and preferably on a dropping tide, a couple of hours before low.

    Looking towards the North End on a rising tide

    The steady West winds nearly always come with a thumping swell, 3m plus, and this opens up the whole beach for all types of riding. You can still get out the back for some exciting ‘tow-ins’ as long as you don’t mind a hefty swim in if it goes wrong.

    Down the line charging in a big swell

    The onshore days are good fun on a twin tip, but I find usually quite disappointing on a surfboard and there are other places I’ll head to instead. Learners and improvers will find that an hour after spring low, on a rising tide, huge sheets of water will rush in under these conditions which are ideal for honing skills.

    Flat water cruising in onshore winds at Watergate Bay

    Along this beach, the best area is directly out in front of the Beach Hut. The beach is widest here, the wind is strongest as it accelerates over the sloping cliffs (rather than buffeting around the vertical cliffs to the north and south) BUT it’s only accessible to kiters during off season or outside lifeguarded hours.

    Watergate during a spring low tide

    Launching

    Head north of the rocks by the steps during lifeguarded hours. No kiting two hours either side of high tide, for your own good.

    Winds

    180 degree wind exposure at Watergate: South round to North, via West. Do not attempt in an offshore.

    Restrictions

    As above.

    Looking north, aerial view of Watergate Bay.

    NEXT GUIDE: Newquay Bay

  11. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No.2: Hawker’s Cove

    8 Comments

    Ultimate all-terrain with flat water bias

    Head to Padstow and take the Crugmeer turning.

    Low tide Hawker's, waiting for the lagoons to fill in

    Wave rating: 2/5

    Flat water rating: 5/5

    Hawker’s Cove in the Camel Estuary is one of the most unique kitesurfing spots I’ve seen anywhere. On its day, it’s a real flat water paradise and the water can be as clear as any Egyptian lagoon; as you blast across the flats, look down and see the turbulence trails in the sand from the wake of your board.

    You can sail and launch here at any state of tide, though pure low tide means a massive walk to the water and at high tide it’s not at its best. It’s during the middle of the tidal curve that all sorts of shallow lagoons appear, giving perfect flat water freestyle conditions. You can easily find a spot of water deep enough to try your most adventurous moves so it stays pretty safe.

    Hawker's just before high tide. Thanks to Alex B for the pic.

    An hour or so before it fills up completely, waves start breaking over sand bars near to the river. Although you wouldn’t exactly get pitted at Hawker’s Cove, on a windy day those walls are definitely worth a slap or two on the wave board.

    Wakeskate action in a shallow lagoon

    Launching

    Another easy launch. At low tide, I suggest pumping up then walking down to the water’s edge, then self launching.

    Winds

    North and North East winds give classic conditions, as do South East winds. Anything with West in it or pure East is a real shocker so avoid.

    Restrictions

    During July and August, no kiting between 10am and 6pm in the Camel Estuary.

    Low tide overview of Hawker's on the left, facing north. Access via the left hand corner.

    NEXT GUIDE: Watergate Bay

  12. Cornwall Kitesurf Guide No. 1: Daymer Bay

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    Ultimate all-terrain with wave bias

    Head to Polzeath in North Cornwall and you won’t go gar wrong, it’s the beach just to the south.

    Low tide Daymer. Check the small wave bending in and vast launch area.

    Wave rating: 4/5

    Flat water rating: 4/5

    I would give Daymer Bay 5/5 on both scores if only it lingered around its magic tide heights a little longer. Finding flat water is pretty simple, just turn up at low tide. But there’s a magic hour when the waves on the point really turn on – to be honest, I don’t actually know when that is. I just turn up when people who know more tell me to. The wave can be very intense and get very big with a ‘Guru forecast of 3m at 12 seconds and beyond, generally it’s a bit smaller than the main beaches as it needs to ‘wrap in’, but beware as MONSTER sneaker sets will come through.

    Tide's getting full, long convex waves are pushing in.

    As ever, a low tide reccy will tell you what you need to know. The River Camel is deep, you cannot stand in it. As the sand covers with water, you’ll be able to stand a fair way from the shore.

    As the bay fills right up, the wave continues to roll right into the beach – it’s very long – twenty turns on one wave or minute long rides are not exceptional. However, you will be doing a fair few cutbacks and it’s not steep all the way, but this really makes it perfectly suited for kitesurfing. A North West wind will allow you to make better use of it all through the tide, whereas a North possibly gives cleaner waves.

    Brae Hill in the middle scene. To the right lurks a big wind shadow in a Northerly / North Westerly.

    There are rocks close to the point so don’t f*** up there or you’ll be in trouble. The rips are horrendous and a lost board in a fast ebbing tide will be gone forever. There are bad wind shadows around Brae Hill, you’ll figure them out soon enough, but combined with Hawker’s Cove, Daymer Bay is certainly one of the best places I’ve ever kitesurfed, if not the best.

    Launching

    Bar a few rocks which are plainly visible, this is another huge, open launch at low tide. High tide can suffer wind shadows.

    Winds

    Head here in a North Westerly wind for a memorable day.

    Restrictions

    July and August, no kiting between 10am and 6pm.

    Looking over to the beach at Daymer Bay from Hawker's Cove. That's the low tide River Camel.

    Daymer Bay is the west facing deeper cut beach on the right of the channel. Hawker's Cove is the north facing beach on the left.

    NEXT GUIDE: Hawker’s Cove

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