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Daymer Bay on the east side of the River Camel estuary in north Cornwall, is one of the UK’s most picturesque windsurfing spots, offering great freeride conditions, and occasionally great waves too! Timo Mullen tells us about an all-time day there and his love affair with the spot.

Words: Timo Mullen // Photos: John Carter.

Daymer Bay is an awesome spot for windsurfing, and many people will have enjoyed everything from flat water blasting to bump and jump and fun wave sailing in its waters. Its popularity lies in its versatility, but also in its position that offers protection from North Cornwall’s massive Atlantic swells. For an intermediate windsurfer, it offers a relatively safe and sheltered option, but on the right size west or northwest swell, it also lights up for some proper high performance down-the-line conditions that experts can enjoy too!


When I went to university in Plymouth, my usual spots to go wave sailing in Cornwall were Gwithian and Daymer Bay. Most of the wave sailing in the university term is done in the winter, which is when Daymer Bay picks up the required amount of swell to work, so I got to see it with plenty of different conditions. On the XXL days it has ironically become quite a well-known ‘secret spot’ for surfers, as it scores some decent wrap around waves in a big swell.


The one thing about Daymer that makes it so unique is that it is part of the Camel Estuary, which is where the River Camel runs out into the Atlantic. On an outgoing tide it can be quite dangerous as it can run at about eight knots. It is one of the things you have to be really wary of when you windsurf in the bay. You have to make sure you don’t go out too far into the main channel when the tide is going out.

On a pushing low tide, I have often seen waves peeling on the sandbars on the other side of the bay. It always looks epic, but it very rarely actually is. I have been sailing there since I was eighteen, which is over thirty years. I have only seen the far side of the bay really turn on a few times, so you have to be lucky to catch it right, but when it is on, it can be world-class. To score it though you have to be on it with the wind and swell direction and tides.


I would say it is one of my dream spots as it is so rare and so good when it works. It is also really picturesque when it happens. It’s a sandbar / river mouth / point break setup, which is quite unique in the UK. The wave itself is nothing too gnarly. The main danger is the tides. If you break any kit you are in for a long swim, so it’s best to leave that dodgy UJ at home and make sure you have a good safety plan and sail with company. It is a super smooth wave, but not very predictable. Get the right one though and you can have five or six turns and some aerials on the same wave, but I have only sailed it when it is firing about four times in thirty years! I would say it is one of my favourite places to sail when it is on, that is why it makes my dream spot list even though it is such a rare score!


For this session we had to be up at the crack of dawn to catch the right tide and even then, there was only a short window when it was firing. You have to guess what the wind is doing as you can’t see the break from where you park, so sail size comes down to your best estimate, and if you get it wrong, it is a half hour hike back to the van which can mean you miss the sailing window.

The swell was forecast to be 12-18 feet and from the road it did not look that big. On the way down I met a surfer who said there were some bombs coming through and it was pumping. Sure enough, it was looking epic. It was not huge, probably logo high, but as clean as I have ever had it there. It was butter smooth. Ultimately with windsurfing in the UK, because of the lack of reefs, it is exceedingly rare to get glassy waves. Even Gwithian in its best wind direction is quite choppy unless there is light wind. So using small sails and a small board on a glassy wave in the UK was a rare and every enjoyable treat! This day was really special and a big tick on my bucket list to score it so good!

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