Rutland by Matt Yeates

Rutland Lake

Rutland water is one of Europe’s largest man made reservoirs and a hotspot for windsurfing activity in the Midlands. Inevitably the thought of an inland lake raises many eyebrows for the hardcore “waveheads” of the windsurfing fraternity but Rutland can indeed offer a good day out both on and off the water.

The first thing you notice about Rutland water is the sheer size of it, with a shoreline perimeter of nearly 25 miles  and an area of  1215 hectares it’s big to say the least. For windsurfer there is the choice of two main launching areas; these relate to the two waterports centres based on the lakes perimeter.

The first launching spot is Rutland sailing club which is based ont eh South shore of the lake. It is one of the largest in the country and frequently holds national scale sailing regattas. For windsurfers there are changing rooms with hot showers, lots of grass to rig up on and a restaurant on site to keep the energy levels up. There may be a few sailors to dodge but nonetheless this is a perfectly feasible launching site.

The North shore on the other hand houses Rutland watersports and the preffered option for windsurfers. Facilities include changing rooms with hot showers, a large grass rigging area, the legendary “daves café” or harbour bar, a good shop stocked with basic kit needs and plentiful parking space. As well as all this Rutland Watersports has recently gained fast forward centre and as such offers fast forward courses and clinics, a team 15 club and the hire of Starboard and Tushingham kit.

The North shore also houses much more of the windsurfing community of the area. There are numerous regulars and on a windy day it isn’t unusual to have over 50 windsurfers out there loving the conditions.

As far as conditions go Rutland works best in most wind directions really apart from a dead northerly.
West to North West winds will funnel down the Northern of the two distinct arms of Rutland kicking up quite a bit of chop along the way. I have seen it get up to about 5 foot in places on a windy day which can produce some great jumping conditions!

South Westerly funnels down the Southern arm but it is quite easy to blast from the North to South shore which is about a mile. Gales in this direction see the chop/swell get massive! Check out the photos below for a taster.
Southerlies are good for long blasts to and from the damn and the chop doesn’t get too big which makes it a nice easy ride. This direction you have to launch from the North shore as its too offshore from the sailing club.
Easterlies are rare but when they come the can be nice and clean as the drop over the damn uninterrupted by trees and hills and so make for some nice shore to shore blasting. They chop doesn’t get too big either so nice for freestyle if you are that way inclined.
Northerlies can be horrid gusty and sometime pretty impossible, but if you dedicated enough sometimes it works that you can sail in the mouth of the bay in which the watersports centre is based. I have had some memorable sessions here on mirror flat water and fully powered on 5.5. If the Northerly has any west in it you can sometimes sail the north arm still but spludge out past a big wind shadow next to the shore which isn’t really that fun!

Most directions will have something for everyone from nice bump and jump in what can sometimes be substantial chop to the flat water for freestyle or perfecting gibing. Even beginners can get out there and enjoy it in the bay in front of the watersports centre or in the main body safe in the knowledge that it is not the sea and that they can always be picked up by the rescue boat if something goes wrong.


As to the sailing standard I must say it has improved over the last year or so. A large majority of the sailors blasting around comfy in the straps with the watersports centre also providing clubs for those less confident. However when it gets really windy the lake attracts a few “waveheads” when the sea gets a bit much and the standard can really be raised! A small group of freestylers is starting to for as well with local heroes such as Dan Newman, Richard Potter and Steve Thorpe at the head.    

If the wind isn’t blowing its where Rutland really comes into its own! There’s a climbing wall, a bike hire centre with trails surrounding the lake for some 25 miles, canoe and kayak hire at the watersports centre or just plenty of green grass and open space to light up a BBQ in the summer.

Some suggest that it’s a case of the coast or nothing and that inland water are small, gusty and just not fun. But I would beg to differ, Rutland can offer sailing right up there with coastal standard and a whole lot more for everyone else too! I look forward to seeing you out there with me!



Matt Yeates(Goya, Amex, Pat love)