top of page
South Downs - Tom Lee. Beachy Head.

It was a very blustery August day with strong onshore winds, watery sunshine and a lot of rain heading in our direction. I walked with my wife and two daughters from Birling Gap as the darkening sky began to threaten and contrast with the Beachy Head lighthouse and the sunlit cliff face. A small sailing dinghy to the right of the lighthouse and near the horizon in the shadow of the approaching clouds (only visible on a large print), reminded me of the day me and my friend Willy Bourne had been in a race from Seaford to Beachy Head and back.

We were sailing a Merlin Rocket, there was no wind and along with all the other boats in the race we were creeping along the Seaford shoreline heading for the cliffs. After a half hour with all of us at a virtual standstill the race was abandoned just as a squall appeared on the horizon.  Along with two other boats we decided to press on and were soon taken aback by the ferocity of the heavy weather that caught up with us..

Suddenly we were racing to Beachy Head with ripping winds and driving rain, climbing up the face of huge waves and surfing down their backs. It was an exhilarating ride but as we turned into the last leg of the race we lost control and got dumped into a very cold sea. It took us twenty minutes to get the wallowing boat upright and surf it up onto the shore by which time we were both completely numb and had to be helped up the beach and out of our gear.

We had been taught an unforgettable lesson about the sea and at the same time, seen the real beauty of Beachy Head.

Canon  1DS Mark 3 ,  EF 135mm F/2L ,  1/800s , f9.

bottom of page