Windsurfers ready to give Hayling’s tourism a boost

SURF'S UP The Round Hayling race is one of the most gruelling challenges of its type. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122973-9)
SURF'S UP The Round Hayling race is one of the most gruelling challenges of its type. 'Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122973-9)
Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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TOURISM on Hayling is set for a boost when it hosts the toughest windsurfing competition in the country.

Competitors from across the UK will be heading for the island on Good Friday when they will race 15 miles around it to take the title.

The event is organised by Hayling Island Sailing Club and only the best 150 in the sport are expected to take part in the gruelling test of stamina and skill.

This year Round Hayling will incorporate stand-up paddle boarding as well – but competitors in that event will go less than half as far.

The competition used to be held regularly until around 15 years ago when the sport’s popularity dropped off.

But it has made a comeback in the past few years and has been a big boost for the island.

Gerald New, from the sailing club, is one of the organisers.

He said: ‘Windsurfing is becoming very popular again, which is great to see.

‘The windsurfers have to go right the way round the island, under the bridge at the top of Chichester Harbour, and back to the sailing club.

‘You’ve got to be pretty good to be able to do that.’

The fastest-ever competitor was Guy Cribb in a time of just 68 minutes, in 2010. The average is two to three hours.

Mr New added: ‘In 2010, there were 42 knot gusts and 90-degree windshifts which made for possibly the most memorable of all Round Hayling events.

‘In the insane conditions only nine managed to make it round and across the finish line with Guy in first.

‘It means that at 68 minutes start to finish he was averaging around 13mph over the whole course – very fast for a sailing dinghy or board. He would have been hitting near 20mph at times.

‘It will be quite a spectacle for people to come and watch.’

Round Hayling takes place on March 29.

Entry is limited to 150 places for both windsurfers and paddle boarders.

The entrance fee of £25 includes a curry at the sailing club afterwards.

To get a place go to