Gunfleet is windy

Gunfleet is windy - It's official

One of the reasons why sailing at Gunflleet is so good is because the prevailing wind is “cross-shore” - that is, parallel to the beach. If you don’t believe this then click on the “wind rose” image.

The rose is based on data collected over a twelve month period from the test tower located on the sands – the full report of the wind survey is available on the website The rose shows the proportion of the time that the wind blows from a certain direction and the strength. As you can see the longest bars are from the South West – strictly speaking, WSW and SSW. In Gunflleet Sailing Club parlance this translates to “the wind is blowing from the end of the pier”. There are concentric circles on the rose labelled 5% 10% and 15% and you can see that the WSW and SSW bars almost touch the 15% circle. So on average we would expect the wind to blow “from the end of the pier” almost 30 percent of the time [2 x 15]. The other long bar to note is that blowing from the ENE. This means that the wind is blowing straight along the coast from Frinton and this happens about 8 percent of the time. Again an excellent wind direction for dinghy and board sailing at Gunfleet, though a tad cold in summer and several tads cold in winter. Of course the Clubhouse and compound are protected from the cold north-easterly wind by the Point, which again illustrates the benefits of our location.

The next thing to consider is the strength of the wind. The wind rose is calibrated in metres per second and in order to convert this into a more familiar scale that non-engineers understand you need to look at the table below which converts wind speed from metres per second into Beaufort. The table also shows knots and miles per hour. A knot, you may remember, is one nautical mile per hour, which is 1.1 statute miles.

Beaufort mph metres/sec knots
Force 1 1-3 0.3 to 1.6 1 - 3
Force 2 4-7 1.7 to 3.2 4 - 6
Force 3 8-12 3.3 to 5.4 7 - 10
Force 4 13-18 5.5 to 7.9 11 - 16
Force 5 19-24 8.0 to 10.7 17 - 21
Force 6 25-31 10.8 to 13.7 22 - 27

On the wind rose the thickness of the bars indicates the wind strength. As you can see from the key at the bottom the thickest bar indicates a wind strength of more than 9 metres per second and if you look in the table you will see that this corresponds to a Force 5 which is 19 to 24 miles per hour. Therefore we can say that there will be a South Westerly wind of Force 5 or above roughly 12 percent of the time [2 x 6]. This is good news for boardsailors but perhaps a little too windy for dinghies. But if you look at the wind rose you can see that a Force 4 from the South West occurs almost as frequently and this is a perfect wind for an exciting sail in a Mirror, a Searanger or a B14.

Overall you can see that the wind at Gunfleet Sailing Club is much more likely to be on-shore or cross-shore than off-shore [the coast at Clacton is SSE facing]. However the most important thing to notice from the rose is that the percentage of the time that the wind is less than 3 m/s is very small indeed. This is good news for people who want to generate electricity from the wind – and good news for sailors at GSC.

Spring 2003