Australian Windsurfing

South Australian Beaches
West Coast & Spencer Gulf
Yorke Peninsula and west to the Western Australia border

8 Mile Creek | False Bay | Port Augusta 2008 | Port Pirie | Point Lowly | Whyalla | Whyalla 2008 | Yorke Peninsula | Other

Darrell Staight reports on Whyalla, Port Augusta and the region in general. This is an edited response to an email query on windsurfing in the Port Augusta area.

There are some great winds in the region, although it's a bit seasonal. I spent 2 and a half years living in Whyalla and generally found that late afternoon winds in excess of 20 knots were quite common, in fact quite often it was way in excess of the tolerances of my old gear and I had to sit out and watch some of the locals bombing up and down near the Whyalla foreshore on their short freeride boards and brand new 4 - 5 metre high wind sails.

While there are certainly some locals in Whyalla who sail kites and then put them away and get out their short boards and go windsurfing when the wind becomes stronger, to my frustration there is no organised racing contingent there. In fact the same can be said about many towns in South Australia, despite the apparently ideal conditions. While I was there I was seriously looking at a partnership with the Whyalla Yacht Club to try and develop a Youth Development Program that could feed into a competitive club. I felt in many ways that if I had stayed their that I would have eventually have pulled it off but there were some obstacles that came to my attention as I felt Whyalla was not an ideal training area for inexperienced sailors but lent itself more to people who were comfortable with strong winds at the drop of a hat. It is very suitable for high wind slalom sailing but having said that those that sail short boards just seem to do endless runs up and down for fun but with no apparent interest in setting up something competitive. That is a shame because the 8 - 10 sailors that do it are obviously rather skilled given the winds they go out in and I think it would make for a good start for them to throw in a few buoys and do organised high speed slalom racing between, but for some reason they don't!!! They are also very good at kite surfing and it is not unusual in winds between 10 - 15 knots to see 10 kitesurfers out just to the right of the main Whyalla Foreshore Jetty (there is a nice setting up area on the grass further down from the kiosk that you can park just behind and are literally only a few metres walk from the water in medium to high tide. In low tide they walk out onto the sand bar and launch from there).

My 2 favourite places to windsurf in Whyalla are at the Whyalla Foreshore in high tide - roughly the end of the jetty marks a small drop off into slightly deeper water and the larger swell there I found was not as suitable for longboard sailing. Indeed both myself and most of the locals liked to bomb around in the area that was slightly flatter to the right of the jetty. Generally there is enough water to sail there except in extreme low tide.

My other favourite place was out near Point Lowly to the left of the BHP jetty. Remember to stay clear of the end of the jetty due to shipping, and that past the headland on the left there is a strong current that you have to be careful of. So staying in the large expanse of water off the beach is generally the safest.

Port Augusta. I never windsurfed there but am off the opinion that it's a bit more protected. Port Augusta marks the apex of Spencer Gulf and on the river up the top there is an Aquatics Centre. I never managed to liaise with them but I believe they do have a training program within the Education Department for youth there. In many ways it was probably a more suitable training area for inexperienced sailors but for more experienced ones, I'm really not sure. Again there is a Yacht Club in Port Augusta but most of their members are into keel boat racing. However I still think it might be worth touching base with them and seeing what they have to offer and whether they are happy for you to integrate into their races and social scene (most Country folk are pretty laid back so would probably be delighted for you to get involved).  

Then their is Port Pirie. Their Yacht Club is also on a river. Although not used for it I am of the opinion that the part of the river opposite the Yacht Club there is very suitable for flat water windsurfing in strong enough winds. Again I guess most of my assessments are based around older long board sailing and also the suitability of the area for training. There is a beach further north closer to Port Germein that would probably be easier to access the open water, otherwise it's a long sail up the river, but Pirie has interested me for a while and I might do a trip up there just to assess it as I think it has at least as much promise as West Lakes and the Port River down here. I would expect the winds on the river in Pirie to be a bit patchy but less so than the highly residential West Lakes.

Certainly I don't know of any place to hire gear out in Whyalla or purchase for that matter. Augusta I'm not sure but I would touch base with the Aquatics Centre about that. There is a retailer in Port Lincoln (OES), in fact they even make their own boards there so a trip down there might be worth a go, other than that as you're probably aware there are 2 retailers in the Adelaide metropolitan area that sell both brand new and second hand gear. Onboard at Glenelg and Glascraft on the South Road, Richmond. The West Lakes Aquatic Club do not hire out or lend their equipment to anyone other than students.

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