One day in February, SUP West Wittering

neal- gent stand up paddle surfing west wittering

We sit and we wait most of the year, it is usually either the wind we hear during the winter, or in the summer the long flat spell, which means that we head into the harbour or paddle up and down the coast, but February is fast becoming the month of swell.

The charts were showing a good day on Wednesday across the whole of the UK. Big Wednesday it was being called. But on the day it failed to live up to the promise, with a choppy wind across the swell.  However on the morning of Thursday the wind switched off shore, the swell interval was 17 seconds, and we had a good chance at getting the best waves of the year.

The text messages and phone calls were flying before the sun had come up. It was pretty hard to leave my local break, which was absolutely firing, and head off to West Wittering. When I arrived Neal Gent was getting his board out of the van and Emile Kott had just arrived. Emile and myself both thought Neal was mad as the conditions looked better further up the coast, but, probably because we had not had an early morning coffee, we got suited up and we all paddled out together. By the time we got out into the line up we were almost a 1km out and we were fighting against the current, which was pulling us into the harbour.

There was swell wrapping in all over the place, as the bay was filling up on the rising tide, we all got a few unremarkable waves, then we suddenly found ourselves on an outer bank sweet spot as Neal took off on a perfect A frame and found himself in the barrel right in front of me. We continued to trade waves on this bank, until Neal broke is paddle. He headed into the beach and made the walk of shame from East Head back up to the x-train club to find a spare.

Myself and Emile started to find outselves getting pulled into the harbour on the tide so we headed in and made the walk of shame as well. Berties reef had started to break so after a quick banana and a cup of tea we headed back in with Simon Bassett and Jem Hall joining us.

Simon got a couple of waves then got whipped into the current as well and disappeared round towards East Head, one walk of shame coming up. Berties reef continued to throw up some great waves, but after 3 1/2 hours we deceided that enough was enough.

As I am sitting hear typing these words I can hear the waves outside smashing against the breakwater, so it looks like tomorrow is going to be another great day in February.

Matt Argyle.

All photos copyright – Photographer Simon Bassett and Matt Argyle.