6 water sports to try in West Sussex

Simon Bassett enjoying the conditions on his windsurf board at West Wittering beach

Simon Bassett enjoying the conditions on his windsurf board at West Wittering beach - Credit: James Jagger photography

Brace yourself for an exhilarating new hobby, with these water sports for all ages and abilities on the West Sussex coast and beyond

For thrill seekers 
Where: West Wittering 
The big new water sport on the scene, wingfoiling is gaining a dedicated following and you can try it in West Sussex thanks to Simon Bassett, owner of 2XS in West Wittering.  
‘Wingfoiling is our newest sport. It looks like a kite, handles like a windsurf sail, and you glide across the water on hydrofoil – it’s pretty amazing,’ says Simon, who set up the company in 1989 with his wife Jane. ‘We offer two-hour WingTRO sessions at low tide, so there’s no chance of disappearing out at sea.’  

Simon Bassett set up 2XS in 1989 with his wife Jane

Simon Bassett set up 2XS in 1989 with his wife Jane - Credit: Simon Bassett/2XS

These introductory tasters to winging allow you to swot up on all the basics of learning to use the wing on either a stand-up paddle board or beginner’s windsurf board in non-planing conditions. Alternatively, you can book in for private tuition. There’s also windsurfing, kitesurfing, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons available for all ages and abilities.  
Details: £65 per two-hour WingTRO session. 2XS, 2xs.co.uk 

Windsurfing, kite surfing, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons are available at 2XS

Windsurfing, kite surfing, surfing and stand-up paddle boarding lessons are available for all ages and abilities at 2XS - Credit: Simon Bassett/2XS

READ MORE: Moving to West Sussex: 3 places to live along the coast

For a sense of camaraderie 

Where: Littlehampton seafront  
If you’re keen to dive into a new sport or level-up your skills, Loop is on hand to help. Founded in 2020, this water sports centre is all about encouraging people to get involved under the expert guidance of the enthusiastic instructors. 
Kitesurfing is a speciality, with lessons for beginners through to advanced tuition. The instructors can tailor lessons around the individual to make sure you’re getting the most out of your time. 
Loop is also becoming something of a social hub in the community due to its founder Liam Dredge teaming up with The Beach @ Littlehampton café around the same time, a purpose built café and activity centre. There you can refuel after a fun session on the water, meet likeminded people and learn more about what the local area has to offer. 
Details: £120 per person for a three- to four-hour group session and £140 for two hours’ private tuition (all equipment included). Loop Watersports, loopwatersports.co.uk 

SUP yoga delivers an impressive strength and conditioning workout

SUP yoga delivers an impressive strength and conditioning workout - Credit: Ulza/Getty Images/iStockphoto

For a calming experience 
SUP yoga 
On the River Arun at Houghton Bridge and at Arundel Lido 
If you feel like swapping your yoga mat for a paddleboard and practising your asanas in the great outdoors, Moxie Unleashed’s stand-up paddle boarding (SUP) yoga may be just the ticket. Sessions deliver a revitalising strength and conditioning workout and you don’t need to be a yoga buff to take part as the postures covered in the classes have adaptions to suit all levels, ages and abilities. Plus, you can stick to your usual activewear for this if you prefer. 
‘Taking a dip doesn’t happen as often as you would imagine,’ says company owner Sasha Chisholm. ‘However, I suggest that participants bring a towel and some dry clothes just in case. If the weather is good there's the option to try a few more challenging poses at the end of the class that may see you taking a dip, but that's part of the fun. It's all optional and a refreshing plunge is often welcome.'
Details: Prices vary depending on duration and location. Moxie Unleashed, moxieunleashed.com 

A woman wearing a mermaid fin in a swimming pool

Mermaiding is an expressive way to enjoy the water - Credit: Photo by mo jo on Unsplash

For a slice of escapism  

Where: Bognor Regis
If your main aim is fun, an introduction to mermaiding could be the escape you’re looking for. ‘The activity started in China and Indonesia and it has become really popular,’ says Anya Frampton, owner and SSI instructor of Mulberry Marine Experiences, which is based in Selsey. ‘Younger people are keen to try it out for birthday parties, but it’s also a hit among adults as it’s a very expressive way to enjoy the water. For children, it helps to develop swimming confidence while for grown-ups it delivers an impressive core workout.’ 
Sessions take place at a swimming pool in Bognor Regis and welcome mermaids and mermen alike to learn the art of moving through the water with a monofin and mermaid tail. Your instructor will teach you all about different types of monofins and tails and school you in basic freediving techniques so you can master the art of swimming gracefully underwater. 
‘Safety and comfort are a priority and all the equipment we use is specially selected sport equipment,’ says Anya.  
You can opt for the 90-minute introductory session, which is open to everyone. Or, sign up for the Mermaid course, which has four sessions (one dry and three in the water) and earns you a globally recognised certification that allows you to mermaid in an indoor setting.  
Participants must be aged six or over and be able to swim 50 metres unaided to take part. All the equipment is provided. 
Details: Try Mermaid, £70 per person. Mermaid Course, £400 per person. Mulberry Marine Experiences, mulberry-me.co.uk 

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Setting sail onboard Chichester Sailing's Sunstar

Setting sail onboard Chichester Sailing's Sunstar - Credit: Supplied by Chichester Sailing

The Chichester Sailing skippered charter experience is a leisurely way to enjoy the water

The Chichester Sailing skippered charter experience is a leisurely way to enjoy the water - Credit: Supplied by Chichester Sailing

For a taste of life on the ocean waves 
Where: Chichester Harbour 
If you’re keen to get some sailing experience under your belt, fancy taking a leisurely cruise to the Isle of Wight, or want to spend a peaceful day wildlife watching on the waves then the Chichester Sailing skippered charter experience is sure to impress. The 32′ catamaran Sunstar accommodates up to six people plus two crew members so is a good option for families. You can also join as an individual and there are numerous group sailing days set to take place over the next few months. October to March is the best time to see wildlife, when you can observe around 45,000 migrating water birds in the harbour as well as seals on the inter-tidal mud flats.
Details: £95 per person per day or £495 for exclusive hire for up to six people. Chichester Sailing, chichestersailing.uk 

There are options to suit all ages and abilities

There are options to suit all ages and abilities - Credit: Alex Hare

For a scenic workout 
Various river locations 
Grab your paddle and set off on an invigorating guided kayaking trip along calm river waters surrounded by stunning scenery. The Kayak Coach has a number of experiences to pick from, including the River Cuckmere Guided River Trip, which takes you past the Litlington White Horse, all the way to Alfriston. There, you’ll stop for a snack before heading back to the start with the outgoing tide on a route that takes three-and-a-half to four hours. There’s also the River Arun - Arundel Trip, which is the least strenuous of the set. This one guides you with the flow of the tide from Arundel Castle past the Black Rabbit Pub and into the heart of the countryside. The route takes about four hours and you’ll finish back at the castle. 
The experiences are open to all levels, but you need to be reasonably fit in order to take part. Some routes are not recommended for children. All the equipment is provided.  
Details: £50 per person for the Cuckmere trip and £55 per person for the River Arun route. The Kayak Coach, thekayakcoach.com 

READ MORE: Read the full version of our feature on water sports in West Sussex in the May/June 2021 issue of Sussex Life magazine.

To find out more about water sports on offer in West Sussex, see coastalwestsussex.org.uk and experiencewestsussex.com