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Paul Hunt takes off





We catch up with a hardy crew of sailors, who normally congregate at West Wittering and  Bracklesham, when the conditions are firing and discover why their common passion for windsurfing is the driving force that keeps their friendships alive.

Words: Chris Audsley, Mark Perry, Paul Hunt, Alan Grant, Rich Audsley, Daniel Macaulay & Simon Basset

Photos: John Carter



“The Autumn is normally when the phone starts pinging furiously with messages focused more on the forecast than on the normal constant streams of banter between my windsurf friends. It’s one of my favourite times of the year! I am a builder which allows me to be semi-flexible when it comes to squeezing in a session – especially when it is wet and windy.

I have been lucky enough to have a great group of friends who have windsurfed together for over twenty years and we all still love the sport now as much as ever. It feels like we have all completely evolved our lives around windsurfing, and still, even now, after all these years, we are trying to be as flexible as possible by having jobs that enable us to spend as much time on the water as we can!

For me personally, I think the main reason why I still have so much enthusiasm is because I am always sailing with all my mates. I guess in a way windsurfing has always been the best way for me to clear my mind. The feeling of freedom is what windsurfing has always given me.

Despite all the places I have been windsurfing around the world, I still love sailing on the south coast. In particular, Wittering’s, which is my most local wave sailing spot and it seems to be consistent and a place I always really love sailing. We often sail from Pezza’s house, which is between East Wittering and Bracklesham. On this particular day, JC came over, unfortunately Pezza was not about, but he still let us sail from his house, which was cool of him! Hopefully next time he will be there so he does not miss the action, and more importantly, he can make the bacon rolls and coffee!”


“I run my own property buying agency business helping people purchase homes in the Wittering’s and Chichester area. As I live in Bracklesham full-time it only takes about fifteen minutes to get on the water, so I can grab an hour here or there pretty easily between work commitments.

We all keep touch through our WhatsApp group, which consists of a handful of local friends that are typically always keen. It is an easy way to connect with the boys and it is more likely to get the crew out on the water that way. There is always plenty of banter in the group, which makes it fun.

Windsurfing is definitely a strong connector. We all live locally and have windsurfed for years. It’s a difficult sport, and I think because of that, you respect anyone giving it a go and this forms a bond. The people I see the most of locally are windsurfing pals and their families.

I am lucky enough to live here at the Wittering’s full-time; that proximity makes committing to windsurfing a lot easier. Also, as a sailing location, the Wittering’s picks up wind swell quickly and is therefore fun for jumping and riding on most days.

I love windsurfing and still to me, the feeling of flying over the water is just special! It grabbed me years ago and I still crave that feeling of planing off the beach just as much now! My favourite move has to be the backloop. Windsurfing is so encompassing as a sport and when I’m doing it I think of nothing else. Plus seeing friends before and after the session adds to that good feeling!

The group we sail with regularly are still pushing and improving, which just makes you want to do the same! Windsurfing is a great excuse to get together, but we all catch up pretty regularly socially and not to mention all the other watersports like surfing etc, which we are also all addicted too!”


“I work primarily in the marine sector, so I have very busy summers, but can be flexible in the winters, which enables me to go sailing whenever my wife allows me! I am in quite a few WhatsApp groups and the banter is relentless, just ask JC as my Apple CarPlay reads it out to us on the drive to the beach.

We all normally congregate at the Wittering’s as it is close to home for all of us and it picks up the most swell locally, even with just wind swell, you usually have decent waves.

I am still just as addicted to windsurfing as I was when I was sixteen. I am just a lot fussier when I go sailing now. When you have family commitments, you have to pick your battles. My favourite move is still just a good old bottom and top turn combination. A good session resets me from the daily grind, although, if I can’t go for some reason I get terrible FOMO (Fear of Missing Out). My main group of friends are nearly all windsurfers, we usually meet up when it is epic at the beach, but we also stay in touch socially. Windsurfing is the common passion that unites us though.”


“I am a vet and it has always been a battle fitting windsurfing around the day job, but I’ve somehow managed it! It has probably not done my career too many favours, but I think it has helped me enormously by reducing my stress levels (apart from when there is no wind).

I am not sure if our group would all see each other without windsurfing, which is how we got to know each other. Our passion for the sport is what we have in common. Some of the guys are giving winging a go, but they haven’t been taken off the contacts list just yet.

Wittering’s always seems to have some sort of wave, which is odd bearing in mind that it’s tucked behind the Isle of Wight, and it can occasionally be quite punchy for the south coast. There is a decent crew that live and sail around Wittering’s and the standard of sailing is pretty high, except for Hunty. As you might guess, there is always plenty of banter!

I love windsurfing as it is pure escapism. It’s also a really difficult sport to master. There is always something that you would like to achieve, so it is never dull. Windsurfers do seem to generally be a really decent bunch of people with a really positive outlook on life.

My favourite move is the backloop! I finally landed a few this year after over 25 years of trying them! That was the best feeling in the world. When I go windsurfing it’s like I mentally reboot each time. It’s a complete break from all the nonsense in your life and your mind gets refreshed. When I am on the water, I generally think about nothing other than what’s going on in the moment. Sailing with the boys definitely makes you push yourself that bit harder.

Most windsurfers are completely and utterly obsessed with the weather and forecasts, I check numerous forecasts several times a day – even if I know there’s not much chance of wind in the near future.”

“My job title is Principal Piping Designer. My day job is a computer-based design role typically in the oil and gas industry and my work has taken me to various countries, including Norway, Ireland and Holland. Fortunately, the Covid period introduced working from home and thankfully now I have periods where working from home is still possible. This sometimes gives me opportunities during the week to get out sailing when previously this would not have been possible.
We all stay in touch via WhatsApp for windsurfing sessions. My banter tends to be mostly with Alan and Chris on the Hill Head Pole Boarders group. Also, I am on the ‘Joliffe Road locals’ group, which is pretty good as there are often live updates sent through. Although this is quite annoying if you cannot get out sailing and have to work. The banter is always there, which keeps you going and makes you smile.

Windsurfing definitely helps keep our group of friends together. It is nice visiting beaches and bumping into familiar faces at Wittering and Avon, these are the two places that are most visited for myself. Hill Head is still fun now and again, but the waves are pretty limited. I tend not to see that many windsurfers away from the sport as I have a super busy family life that involves lots of football.
Wittering’s is just a good fun spot with waves and can be fun for riding and jumping – plus it is not too far away from home. There are always quite a few familiar faces when you rock up.

I have been windsurfing since about the age of eight and have loved it ever since. Chris and myself started off racing together at an early age and I think this is what has given us the competitive nature that we both have. Windsurfing has also given me some of the best holiday experiences I have had. Many trips to Maui, one to Cape Town and a trip to Fuerteventura. (I definitely miss these trips nowadays) I don’t think I have a favourite move, but forwards, backloops, clew first backloops and gu-screws all give me a great feeling and I love doing them when landed clean.

Sailing gives me a refreshing break from my type of work where there is a lot of sitting down involved and not much physical action. There is a sense of freedom that windsurfing gives that is quite special. Sailing with our crew, who are all decent sailors, definitely helps me push myself. I love watching others jumping and wave riding whilst out sailing and it inspires me to try things you would not when sailing solo.”


“You can’t beat a classic Witts session with all the chums out ripping. So many of the locals have designed their lives with the flexibility to be on the water when the conditions are pumping. The atmosphere on the water is always electric! The average standard is so high here, which easily provides the inspiration to go for it and push your own boundaries. The tide was a little higher than expected when we arrived on one of the sessions in the autumn, so you really needed eyes in the back of your head when the sets came through to avoid getting wrapped around the groynes. This was something Hunty learned the hard way, much to our enjoyment and entertainment!”


“Over the last few years I have spent plenty of time wing-foiling, but when 25 knots southwesterlies arrive, in fact any wind direction from the west, its time for windsurfing. I work at the beach at 2XS West Wittering, so I’m often left watching others enjoy windsurfing, but I normally try and grab an hour or so when I can.

There is something to be said when you hit the water windsurfing, just feeling that rail drive and connection to the ocean. As the waves roll in there are perfect bowly sections, which shift on the West Wittering sandbars, so you have to know when is the perfect time for the tide and wind direction to get the best out of it.

Someone said to me the other day that windsurfing is dead, and that wing-foiling had killed it, but I think there is a simple answer to that.. I think they are on the wrong gear, windsurfing is still amazing.

At 2XS we are bit old school, we send out weekly weather updates, post on Instagram if t’s epic, we also have a live beach webcam and we get tons of calls when decent weather and conditions are expected. We did try WhatsApp a while ago, but we had too many customers getting frustrated when they couldn’t make it out during the week when conditions were firing. Sometimes it’s pretty nice having the place to yourself… and telling everyone about it afterwards.”

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