The Portland Race

The Portland Race is one of the most powerful and roughest tide races around the UK. The waters of the English Channel squeeze around the Isle of Portland, and compress over shallows about a kilometre offshore. The flows can reach 11mph in the Race.

I’ve never paddled in the Race! The normal way of rounding the Isle of Portland is to arrive at the pointed southern tip – Portland Bill – within an hour of slack water. In any case, the Race is offshore; there is always a ribbon of calmer water around the shore. Arriving at a time when the Race is in full flow, or heading that far offshore, could cause real problems; it’s not a simple matter of paddling back to shore, as massive fast-flowing eddies are created on either side of Portland Bill…in other words, the tide is flowing strongly south (against your retreat) on both sides of the Isle.

I will figure out a way to safely visit it, one of these days…

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