Wittering & Bracklesham Surf Advice
Surfing In The Witterings
Surfing in the Witterings can be tricky to get right. There are a lot of factors to think about and get lined up to get those epic Wittering Classic days. Firstly we will always shout about a decent potential surf forecast on our Instagram and Surfcheck page so make sure you follow us. We use Windguru, Windy and Magicseaweed to get a feel for the longer range forecast. These services will all give you a 7 days forecast, however it does tend to change day by day, so it’s always important to check the day before or ideally even the day you hope to come and surf.Surf Check Shore Instagram
Our Guide to Reading the Forecasts and Conditions
The wave height, period, wind speed and wind direction are all important. Height of the wave is probably the least relevant of these factors with wave period always important. The longer the period the better, generally something with over 10 seconds means there is a proper ground swell running. But something 12 seconds and up is even better. When the period is high then the height of the waves will then become a factor. Anything 1ft upward will generally mean there is a surfable wave. Obviously if the wave height is bigger, it will have more size and power. Wind also plays a big part in the quality of the waves. Generally when surfing you ideally want a light off shore wind, which for The Witterings means the wind direction needs to have some northerly in it, however this is very rare. The prevailing wind direction for The Witterings is south-westerly which is basically dead onshore. Witterings can still work really well with this direction but depends on the wind speed. For local live updates on wind, wave height and wave period local surfers use https://www.chimet.co.uk
The Witterings, like most south coast locations, do tend to get plenty of windy onshore days. These days still need a bit of a wave period ideally getting up towards 10 seconds but even at 7 or 8 seconds it can produce reasonable surf. On stormy days the wave heights may well be much higher and with strong south/ south-west winds. On days like this surfing will be very challenging and it can be hard work to get out past the white water of the breaking waves and the peaks of the waves will be constantly shifting. We would strongly not recommend these conditions for beginners. If you can paddle out at Wittering when it's blowing a Force 8 onshore you can pretty much paddle out anywhere in the world.
The Witterings also feature a large tidal range, where the waves generally are smallest at low and largest near high tide. East Wittering and Bracklesham can be surfed at low tide all the way through to around one hour before high tide, where on actual high tide the waves will turn to shore dump and no longer be easily surfable or suitable for beginners or intermediates. On bigger 4.5 metre plus Spring tides it may not be surfable up to 2 -3 hours before high. A general rule is that it works best mid tide so aim to get in 3 hours after low tide to have the best chance of getting the best conditions. It's worth noting that if you are surfing in East Wittering or Bracklesham the tide does not move that fast so is therefore safe to surf without worrying about tidal rips, which makes it super safe for the less experienced surfer.
Dangers, Crowds & Locals
We strongly recommend not surfing at high tide or approaching a high tide as the waves really dump onto the stones and it's very easy for less experienced surfers to become injured and equipment to get damaged. Coupled with this the whole of the bracklesham bay area has groins that at high tide can become a hazard so just keep these in mind.
Other local spots, The south coast doesnt really have any “secret spots” however there are other spots local to our store that do break on certain tides/swells. These locations are not as safe as East Wittering and Bracklesham and therefore strongly recommend that anyone new to the area surf the main beaches first before going looking for these other spots
Localism and crowds, The Witterings and Bracklesham can get very very busy if conditions are good and therefore even though we have a lot of beach to choose from it's worth remembering the general surfing etiquette rules still apply and we are all out in ocean to have fun and look after each other.
The area has a large friendly local surf community and there is no “localism” in the water. Local surfers have no problem with visiting surfers as long as general surfing etiquette is adhered to. If one peak looks busy we have over 5 miles of beach so maybe pick a different spot or if you do want to surf in the pack respect the rules and you will gain respect back.