Information about Lyall Bay, what's done there and who does it
Windsurfing - Waves, Racing, Freestyle, Bump n Jump, Just Cruising, Grovel/Swim
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Level Advanced, to kite Lyall you must be able to competently kite up wind, be able to comfortably pop waves (practice on Waikanae), and have strong spatial awareness of your kite at all times (even if you are underwater)
Wind Direction SE through to SW although can be gusty in SW due to the hills on the Western side.
Lyall Bay is a long (narrow) sandy bay located next to Wellington's airport and faces the Cook Strait. Picks-up a lot of southerly swell and the waves can get quite powerful with an onshore beach break. Combination of heavy waves, gusty onshore winds, windsurfers, proximity to the road (and buildings on the beach) make it unsuitable for any but extremely experienced riders. It is often necessary to have to jump over breaking waves in order to sail out. Upwind sailing, and jumping and jibing are necessary skills for sailing at Lyall. If you cannot confidently perform all of these skills, when it is blowing a southerly, please sail at Petone which is more suitable for beginners/intermediate kitesurfers.
The word: Awesome spot, can get massive waves
Before sailing in Lyall Bay you MUST contact the airport control tower (particularly if you're the first there) and ask permission prior to launch (04) 387 1980. The control tower has the full responsibility for all airspace around the area and has the power to stop kites flying at Lyall. Some people have already been pulled over by airport security for launching without warning. Please obey their instructions and keep them happy. Local kitesurfers have worked hard to maintain a good working relationship with the control tower. Please respect these guidelines to keep Lyall bay open to kitesurfers.
Special Circumstances on Lyall
These rules apply elsewhere but we are under the watchful eye of the airport, the surf club and the harbour master, it is not uncommon elsewhere in New Zealand that kiters are restricted on beaches, we need to preserve our integrity by realising we are one user of the beach and take special care on all beaches, lyall in particular can be a log jam and is very dangerous.
- give the public 50m space at all times, watch the lauch, wait for people to walk
- when riding past surfers, avoid spraying them with your wash, it can hurt if you get too close
- do not fly your kite over people when walking on the beach, send it to the other side of the window and then walk around them
- do not ride through surf events, get upwind and get around them.
Setting up for the Launch
The only place to set-up, launch and land in Lyall bay is at the far west end/corner of the beach, in front of the toilet block, where the windsurfers also rig and launch from. This the most upwind point in the bay. Launching anywhere east of the lifesaving club buildings is not advisable as it is almost impossible to sail upwind through the shorebreak here. Please do NOT attempt to launch down at the east end of the beach by the airport.The beach is long and sandy but can be very narrow at high tide, so launching is recommended at low tide. A main road runs adjacent to the beach and not only does it have the usual power lines but also has high voltage bus power cables too. Launching in the corner can be gusty. Definitely not a place for the novice!
On the Water
Sailing is restricted to the west side of the bay, the Briscoes building marks the end of the fly zone, even better turn back at the ACCOUNTANTS building. Lyall Bay offers some of Wellingtons best conditions with good wind and waves for the advanced rider. The normal Southerly wind is cross-onshore from the right meaning starboard tack to get out through the surf. Lyall throws up some great rideable waves which can be ridden upwind (port tack) or down-the-line on starboard.
edited by yakernz 09.07.09
Lyall Bay can radically change its face from gale force onshore beachdump to serious down-the-line conditions with cross-offshore winds and waves coming through in Taranaki style sets. Watch out for big southerly swells in combination with a very N to NE wind. Launch as usual from western end of bay. Works best around low tide. Wind can be super gusty, only for experienced sailors, other will struggle to a) get out through the waves b) to actually catch a wave. Good for 3-4 bottom turns and big aerials. Very fast.
If sharing the waves with surfers and swimmers, make sure that you always give them a wide berth and give them priority to the wave. Our continued access to this beach depends on maintaining our good relationships with the other beach users.
edited by jcourt 15.06.09