Stay afloat all year round

Why, when the evenings start drawing in, do you think about packing your boat or windsurfing kit up until next spring?

Windsurfing man leaping into the air

Is it because the thought of cold weather isn't appealing and you think no one else will be on the water? Or is it simply because sailing and windsurfing are summer sports, right?

With developments in clothing, equipment, and forecasting, plus plenty of events taking place throughout the year, the colder months on the water have never been better! 

The UK tends to get some good low-pressure systems moving through during the autumn and winter months, providing some excellent sailing conditions.

The consistent South-Westerly winds can also offer a more exhilarating and challenging experience. Although the weather is colder, that’s soon outweighed by the satisfying tingle to your body as you warm up after a great sail!

Family on a keelboat during winter

The sea is at its warmest in autumn

Sea temperatures should be at their maximum into autumn. Inland water temperatures, although varying considerably depending on location, are typically colder than the sea but still perfect for sailing.

Many inland and coastal sailing clubs have developed opportunities to enable everyone to stay out on the water into the autumn and beyond.

For experienced racers, Frostbite Series traditionally start in early November and are very popular. A growing number of clubs recognise the value of being part of a local inter-club Frostbite series to help encourage genuine competition and motivate people to keep coming back whatever the weather.

A quick Google search will tell you where the nearest Frostbite events are if your club doesn’t already participate. Meanwhile if you don’t have Frostbite sailing on your club calendar yet, is it something you could introduce as a new activity?

There’s also the Seldon Sailjuice Winter Series which is based around the UK’s biggest winter handicap events. The event typically attracts almost 100 different types of boats represented across the season. From fleets as diverse as the traditional Norfolk Punt and National 18 to emerging classes like the Hadron H2 singlehander.

Windsurfing in the autumn and winter is also a very exhilarating experience with the prevailing weather conditions and stronger winter winds bringing anything from flat water blasting to choppier, challenging waters.

Images showing activity at the Giant Academy with coaches delivering race training in dinghies and Windsurfers ashore and afloat.

Safe sailing 

Whatever activity you do, ensure common sense prevails and above all else be safe. With most equipment built to sail in all conditions there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy the sport all year round. Just as you would in the summer, be sure to check your equipment is suitable for the conditions and in good working order.

It doesn’t matter what you look like, the right warm clothing makes for an enjoyable sail! But remember, cooler weather plus thicker wetsuits and layers can tire you out more quickly. Your body will tell you when it has had enough so listen to it.

The growth of mobile phone technology also means we’re never more than a quick App check away from the latest forecast. Weather patterns and systems can change quickly during the autumn and winter, so it’s good to stay on top of any diversions.

Powerboat sailing in rough weather wind and waves

Don’t forget to download RYA Safetrx so you can plan your sail or journey. Should you not arrive by the time given, a nominated emergency contact will be alerted and advised to initiate appropriate action.

All forms of boating, whether sailing or windsurfing offer a great excuse to socialise outdoors. However, as it gets colder always sail with others, and pay careful attention to any changes in behaviour that might indicate someone is getting too cold or tired.

So, put all your preconceptions aside and stay out on the water this autumn and winter. You’ll quickly realise what you’ve been missing out on and just how satisfying a sport it is to enjoy all year round.

What’s on this winter?

Join this February at the RYA Dinghy & Watersports Show held at Farnborough International. 

You’ll find a whole host of dinghy and watersports advice, interactive family fun, live demos, coaching sessions and hundreds of boats and boards all under one roof.