Rutland Water - Midland's Finest

Windsurf|Issue 391 - November December 2019

Rutland Water - Midland's Finest
If you want a windsurfing fix in the East Midlands, then Rutland Water is a mighty fine place to go sail. Although it is man-made, it is a haven for wildlife and rich in nature, as well as being a playground for watersports; not to mention supplying water to East Midlands! It is the largest reservoir in England and wind foiling is giving inland locations like Rutland Water a resurgence; foil advocate and local windsurf instructor David Horan and regular Rutland Water photographer Andy Balmford tell us more about its windsurfing scene and their relationship with its waters.
David Horan and Andy Balmford


David Horan – “Rutland Water is a man-made reservoir which was formed by flooding two valleys. Construction started in 1971 and was completed in 1976. When Rutland opened it was the largest man-made reservoir in Europe. The reservoir covers an area of over 3100 acres and has a capacity of 124 million cubic metres. The dam at the east end of the lake is 1.2 km long and the maximum depth of the lake is 34 metres. There is a nature reserve at the west end of the lake where a breeding pair of ospreys can be seen in the summer months. Rutland Water has extensive cycling and walking paths around the body of the reservoir, numerous cafes, a cycle hire centre, childrens play parks, mini-golf, bug-topia, an aqua park with inflatable equipment in summer and a bird-watching centre as well as lots of space to enjoy a picnic or bbq with friends. The lake is big enough that it really feels like you are in the great outdoors away from it all, and even on those busy summer days on the lake shore you can soon escape any noise by getting out on the water.


The only launch location is at the village of Whitwell on the north side of the lake, halfway between the towns of Oakham and Stamford. Visitors must sign in at the Rutland Watersports centre/shop who provide safety cover. After signing in, you can proceed to the car park adjacent to the water with access directly onto the main sailing area.


Rutland Watersports offer a variety of tuition from complete beginner to intermediate planing and introduction to wind foiling through to sustained flight. They have a variety of kit to suit these activities or tuition can be done on your own personal kit. Beginner and non-planing intermediate kit is available to hire subject to conditions.

If you are looking for something to entertain the rest of the family while you head out on the water there are other options at the watersports centre including paddleboarding, kayaking, sailing and canoeing. Other alternatives are the Aqua Park and bicycle hire.


The best wind directions are either west-northwest or east, although you can sail in almost all directions. North is the main exception as it becomes particularly patchy due to the trees on the north shoreline. In a west-northwest the wind blows cleanly down the length of the north arm creating good waves in the middle for those looking to jump and flat water at the sides for gybing and freestyle tricks. In an easterly the wind comes clean over the dam allowing for long runs the width of the main body. Again the middle provides waves for jumping whilst the edges are flat. For budding speedsters, after tacking your way up to the dam the water is super flat and has good wind. Southwest works reasonably well, although to make the most of it you need to sail to the south side of the lake and it’s a long wobble back if the wind does take a turn for the worse.



There are very few hazards at Rutland. The water gets deep reasonably quickly from the edges with very few large rocks to worry about. There is one tour boat which has right of way over all other craft, but this is rarely an issue. The only other thing to be aware of is at various weekends of the year there are dinghy races in the main body, but as the lake is quite large these can easily be avoided by sailing in a different area. With regards to weed this is rarely an issue, occasionally there may be some tight to the edge, but once launched you should be all clear.



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Issue 391 - November December 2019