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Kimmeridge Windsurfing Guide

General info

Suitability
intermediate, advanced, maverick
Beach faces
SW
Best wind
W, NW, SE, SW, S
Tidal range
medium
Shelving rate
Rocky except for slipway.

Windsurfing ratings

Wave
Freestyle
Speed
Beginner

Kimmeridge Gallery

Kimmeridge Bay is something of a legendary place on the South Coast. It is home to one of the best waves in the country and is nestled amongst breathtaking scenery. It is well known as both a surfing venue and a windsurfing hotspot, and is also where the renowned custom board shaping and repairs company, K-Bay, derived its name from well over 20 years ago.  In fact, Kimmeridge itself is often referred to as simply "K-Bay" now.

The bay is horse-shoe shaped and surrounded by cliffs, which provide a great backdrop for a days windsurfing. There are three main places to windsurf – the Ledges to the east, the Bench to the west and more commonly the central bay area. It is possible to launch quite easily on the eastern side of the bay down a slip way and windsurf within relative shelter from swells; access to the Bench requires a long windsurf upwind whereas windsurfing of the Ledges is just a case of bearing off the wind.

The reefs on the outside of the bay do a good job of keeping things from getting too hectic in the bay. It is entirely possible for mast high plus sets to be breaking off the Bench and reefs but with bump and jump windsurfing in the bay. This means that as an intermediate, it is possible to windsurf on most days even when the swell is charging.

The Ledges pick up a good dose of swell and can be great for jumping and wave riding, the Bench on the other hand is more of a wave riding wave. It is sucky and powerful and on a good day the wave wraps around the reef cleaning up the wave face and creating the perfect top to bottom wave. If the red flag is flying it is likely that the Bench will be off limits because it is unfortunately positioned on the border of a military firing range. Shells have been seen landing out to see so it is a real danger.

Features

It is worth remembering that the wave at Kimmeridge will likely be bigger than elsewhere, a 1.5 metre swell with a reasonable period eg. 12 seconds can generate clean head plus high waves, which wouldn't amount to much elsewhere.

On it's day, you really can't beat the wave at the Bench, so keep and eye out for the Bigsalty 2 or 3 star Wave Ratings that indicate the optimum swell and wind setup. You should be looking for a W or NW wind, whereas the Ledges really come to life in a SE and also Westerly.

A useful indicator for deciding when to go is to look for the Portland wind reading on the Bigsalty current wind map, and if it looks like a North West, West or SE, it is worth making the trip.

Finally a southerly makes for some good cross onshore jumping off the Ledges and SW will be onshore in the bay but still potentially good fun.

Considerations

This is a popular surfing spot so make sure you look where you are landing from those jumps but also take your surf board in case the wind drops! Watch out at low tide for barely submerged rocks in the bay – there are a few that are hungry for fins.

Remember that when the red flag is flying, there is a real danger of shells landing off the Bench so don't head out there. If you intend to head to Kimmeridge to specifically windsurf the Bench, you should always check firing times to see when the range is open. To go out when it is closed not only risks your safety but the relationship between water users, the MOD and the land owners which should not be jeopardised.

You can can check Lulworth rang firing times here.

Directions to Kimmeridge

The main route to Kimmeridge:

  • Head to Wareham,
  • Take the A351 south towards Swanage, turning off just before Corfe Castle, follow the signpost to Church Knowle,
  • Finally, follow the country road and look for signs to Kimmerige,
  • The final part of the road requires a toll in summer time to pass through the Smedmore estate.

There are actually a few different routes to get here, but these can be closed off during firing times.

Google Map of the location