Help & settingsWelcome to the help & settings section, here you can change the default units, sign in for free and learn more about weather forecasting. Bigsalty Site Help Bigsalty Rating System Our forecast & current weather data Forecast charts Current weather Beach data Interpreting wave data
Overview for windsurfers
Each location shown on Bigsalty has some or all of the following data accessible:
To migrate between these views, toggle the icons at the top right hand corner of the page.
1) Beach facts
The beach data sections contain photographs from the local area as well as an introduction, a list of amenities and general beach facts. The data also contains some or all of the following information particularly relevant to windsurfers, surfers and kitesurfers such as tidal range, which direction the beach faces, good swell direction, beach shelving rate and hazards.
There is also some windsurfing-specific data that indicates important aspects of the beach according to a windsurfer (and often kitesurfers, too) as listed below:
- Suitability level: These levels are simplified as beginner, intermediate, advanced and maverick. If you are new to windsurfing then you should try to prioritise visiting a location that has a high beginner rating. An advanced location generally indicates where a spot is known to get very good for wave riding and jumping. Furthermore, a location rated maverick is reserved for legendary or hazardous conditions. Please note that depending on weather conditions a location can quite feasibly be good for beginners and advanced on separate days, so you must refer to the forecast when choosing a location.
- Location rating: This is a rating of 1-5 for the following categories of windsurfing: wave, speed, freestyle and also a rating for beginners. Note that this is also not forecast-related and is based on how a location is expected to perform as a rule of thumb. For example, a beach rated 5-stars for waves will not be up to much if the forecast isn’t cranking.
- Good wind directions: This indicates wind directions that the location is known to be sailable in. Please note that some beaches in cliff bound regions may be unsailable in certain wind directions, and also that a location is not worth windsurfing (and not safe to do so) in an offshore wind.
- Port/starboard tack bias: Most locations have a port and starboard tack wind direction, so with one direction you may be enjoying starboard tack jumping and the other - port tack jumping. The same goes for wave riding. Generally speaking, locations on the South Coast of the UK are predominantly starboard tack; however, the Bigsalty search engine can hunt out those rare occasions when you can sample some different conditions based on your search criteria. Please note that this level of detail may only be visible through the beach search engine where you can search for locations that jump or wave ride in certain tacks; therefore, this is a tool mainly for intermediate upwards.
2) Location forecast
Each location listed has a forecast for the next seven days. It’s important to recognise that all wave data represents offshore wave conditions - not those found directly at your beach. This is where your skill comes in to interpret the data for your local breaks based on offshore readings. The below data is available to Users:
- Wind speed and direction: Notice that whatever the wind speed units used, the background colour always represents the Beaufort representation of that wind speed. Click here to view the Beaufort scale. The wind speed is represented for a height of 10-metres above ground level. NB: The wind speed does not take into consideration any local affects. The arrow points in the direction the wind is blowing, e.g. a northwesterly wind comes from the northwest.
- Wave height and direction: This represents significant wave height, which is the average height from crest to trough of one in three waves. The colours used for backgrounds indicate the following size ranges. Like wind direction, the arrow points in the direction the waves are heading, e.g. a westerly swell comes from the west.
- Wave period: This is the peak wave period in seconds of the dominant waves. A sea may consist of many swell types with varying periods but this is the dominant one. The colours used for backgrounds indicate the following size ranges:
- Rainfall: This is the rainfall in mm over the last three-hour period.
- Cloud cover: This is the highest percentage of cloud cover present in the atmospheric column out of all the atmospheric layers at the given location as a percentage of the visible sky.
- Temperature: This represents the temperature at two metres above ground level.
- Sunset and sunrise: These are the local times for sunrise and sunset at the location (taking into account British Summer Time).
- Tidal data: Where appropriate, tidal data is presented for a location. On the main forecast page the current day’s tide times are given at the nearest available port. This data is presented with a Port Datum (the mean average sea level) for this location. This can be referred to against tide height to work out exactly how low or high a tide is. A distance is also given from the beach location to the location of the port. Tide times for the coming seven days can be viewed by clicking the Tide tab at the top of the location page.
3) Media and extras
Currently this section entails a bird’s eye view of the location. You can toggle between road map view and real world photography view on the Google map interface to gain different perspectives. This allows you to get a better idea of situations like if cliffs may create a gusty wind in a certain wind direction, or whether islands may obstruct swell.
4) Tidal data
Where available, tidal data is shown. It is important to remember that the tidal data is listed for the nearest available primary or secondary port, which is given by a distance away from the location you are interested in. Please note: this distance should be considered when observing tide times particularly in certain cases where the port is a long way from the beach. Tidal data is extremely useful for water users because it can affect both the conditions and safety of the water.
A tip for determining how low or high a tide is, is to look at the Mean Sea Level for the location. The difference between this and the tide height indicates the amount of variation.
Also, spring high tides coincide with full and no moon, whereas small tidal ranges coincide with quarter moons.