There’s nothing more frustrating than loading up the surfboards and heading down to the beach, only to find out that you’ve got the tide times all wrong. Reading the ocean timetable is an exact science that can be quite tricky (unlike the weather forecast). Whether you’re planning on surfing, fishing, diving, boating or simply fancy a dip in the cold ocean waters, the tides could significantly affect your trip.
Being in the South West, Hayling Island is one of the UK’s surfing hotspots and a prime destination for surfers from Portsmouth, Southampton and Weymouth. If you’re having trouble reading the tide timetables, these tips will ensure you don’t waste a trip!
Most surf reports are based upon three crucial elements: swell direction, wave height and local winds. If all of them are in sync and working together, start getting excited, cause you’ll be in for heck of a ride!
The swell essentially tells you which direction the waves originate from. For example, if the swell direction is coming from the south west, it will hit Hayling Island straight on, while if it’s coming from the south east, they will hit at an angle. Generally, for a clean break you ideally want to swell to originate from the direction the beach is facing; however, this isn’t always the case. The geography of the area can also make a huge difference.
Unless you’re a professional surfer, you probably shouldn’t worry too much about the wave height, but rather, the wave quality. You can have just as much fun riding a clean three foot wave as you could a six foot wave – besides, greater height also means greater danger! So rather than focusing on the height, focus more on the swell interval (which is often included in the height calculation). A 3 foot wave at 6 seconds is probably going to be quite choppy, while a 3 foot wave at 20 seconds will deliver a far better quality wave. If it’s 9 foot at 20 seconds, best get there early to find a parking space, because you’ll no doubt find a lot of surfers on the beach!
A good swell and wave height means nothing if the local winds aren’t on your side. This will determine how well they are formed once they reach your local break point. The best wind comes from offshore, lightly fanning the surface of the waves to “clean them up” on their journey – the only thing better is when there’s no wind at all!
The existence of waves depends on your local tides. To truly understand whether or not a beach will have decent surf conditions, you must assess the above information, cross reference it with tide times and see whether the beach is generally considered best at low or high tide. Once you’ve compiled all this information and are happy with the results, start planning your itinerary for the week.
If surfing is your main goal, Hayling Island beach needs a decent swell from the south west. However, if the surf is not in your favour during your stay, there are plenty of other beaches in the area that are also worth checking out: East Wittering, Littlehampton, Highlciffe and the Isle of Wight – Compton.