Words by Corinne Evans
Adjusting to the change in water temperature isn’t easy, it can take a lot of dedication to keep surfing all winter long, but it’s not unachievable, in fact it’s far from it. Surfing all year round is something that us surfers in the UK and colder climates just do, without really thinking about it. If the prospect of surfing all winter long may seem a little daunting, this needn’t be the case, with a little extra preparation and focus, winter surfing can be something that slots into your life like surfing did during the warmer months.
Here are our tips on how to help your transition into winter a little easier.
Welsh surfer Alys Barton in her Roxy suit.
Invest in your surfing
Buying a good wetsuit will make your winter surfs. Wearing a cheap wetsuit, which has been made poorly will break them. It’s as simple as that. Now, we’re not telling you to go out and spend hundreds of pounds on a wetsuit, what we are saying is invest wisely. Try before you buy, ask around and do your research. Look out for wetsuits with glued and blind stitching, with fleece like lining inside and try a chest zip.
A 4:3mm thick wetsuit is a great wetsuit to transition through the seasons in, but this can also be seen as a bit of a luxury, so if budgets are tight then stick with a 5:3mm wetsuit. A 5:3mm is the ideal winter wetsuit. You can begin wearing it without boots during the shoulder seasons like October and November, and as the water temperatures drop and winter sets in, you can add boots, gloves and a hood.
Don’t be afraid of buying second hand, if a wetsuit has been looked after then it should still see you for a couple of years at least. Which really is the key to your wetsuit care, always rinse and dry out your wetsuits, you will thank us for it!
40 minutes to one hour surfs are the optimum amount of time to spend in the water, especially during the winter months. As the temperatures drop, so will the number of hours you’re able to spend in the water. There is no shame in having quick surfs, just paddle out, catch a bunch of waves and get out before your body gets the chance to get cold or tired. As it gets colder you may find that you can only last 40 minutes and as it warms up, you may manage to last longer. Just listen to your body.
Preparation is key
We all know we need to get our board, wax and wetsuit ready, but what about getting your after-surf essentials ready. Like a flask, hot water bottle, snacks and comfy clothes to chuck on. You may laugh at the thought of bringing a flask with you, but honestly if you’ve got numb toes after changing in a windy car park after a chilly surf, then you may just wish you had one. Same goes for comfy clothes. Leave the skinny jeans and tights at home, opt for joggers, hoodies and warm layers!
Surf with a buddy
Sharing the cold-water waves will be far more enjoyable if you’re with a friend. They can keep you motivated on the coldest of days, cheer you on in the line-up and understand your pain when you get ice cream headache after duck diving the first set of the day. Put a WhatsApp group together to keep you all in check and plan your weekend surf adventures in advance. Joining Facebook community groups and pages to meet local surfers in your area. Keep the surf stoke flowing and amp each other up for the waves all winter long.
Stay fit between the waves
Probably the most important one, but the one often forgotten. Try to avoid spending the entire winter on the sofa, eating comfort food and letting your surf fitness slip. Practice your pop ups while you catch up on your latest Netflix binge, join a yoga class or swim before work. Stretch your body, keep your upper body and core strong. Nourish your body from the inside out. The more you do it, the more you’ll notice it in the surf.
If you work a Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm job, then your surf time will be limited to weekends, meaning what you do with your time in between is key. Keep fit, active and rested, all with the aim to surf as much as you can in your free time.
Remember, winter doesn’t mean you have to pack up your boards and say good bye to your new-found love. You can still surf, it can still be a part of your life, but you just may need to dig a little deeper for your motivation.