What feelings do you associate with surfing in cold water? Do you flood your mind with dread, fear and negativity? Or it is adventure, excitement and adrenaline that surf around your brain?
Whichever it is, both are perfectly natural feeling and thoughts to have as a surfer. Not many people like the feel of cold water but there are the odd few who fully brace the chill, and with the cold water temperatures here in Europe we thought it’s time to talk coldwater surfing.
For some surfers, the word winter evokes an unpleasant feeling. A feeling of dread that comes in the form of icy water flushing down your back, hands so cold that you cannot hold your surfboard and an ice cream headache so painful you want to shed a tear. But, for most surfers winter brings a feeling of excitement, adventure and endless adrenaline rushes and we think this is precisely how surfers should feel during the winter and early spring months. If you’re reading this and find yourself dreading the though of chilly temperatures then we want to help you! We want to help you embrace the chill and fall in love with coldwater surfing and keep surfing!
Coldwater surfing has many benefits, with many studies celebrating the health benefits of cold water on the mind and body, for example, it’s proven to increase your metabolism and release endorphins into the bloodstream and are known as the feel-good hormones. Which is why as surfers we love surfing during the winter months, for us, it’s a sure fire way to beat the winter blues. Instead of us dreading the change in temperature we chuck on some extra neoprene and get out there. Winter is the time to embrace surfing.
Tips for braving the cold water
If you’re new to surfing or planning on surfing coldwater surfing for the first time, here’s some hints and tips we’ve learnt along the way that have made our winter surfing experience a lot more enjoyable.
1. Get changed at home. There’s nothing more challenging on the mind and body than getting in or out of your wetsuit outside with the cold icy wind blowing and if you’re fortunate a spot of rain thrown into the mix. Avoid.
2. If you live close to the beach then put your wetsuit on a home and either drive or walk to the ocean in it, so all you have to do is leash up and get in there. It also means that on the way back you can get into the shower straight after surfing and warm up gradually that way.
3. However if you have a long away from the surf, it would be worth considering investing in a changing robe. They may seem a little pricey, but oh my you won’t regret the purchase. Just put these over your wetsuit after surfing, or get changed and through it on and you’ll stay nice and toasty until you get home. Also, they are great to put on over your wetsuit between surfs.
4. Invest in a decent wetsuit and don’t forget your boots, gloves and if your wetsuit doesn’t have a built-in one, then you will also need a hood. The most important thing you can do for your winter surfing experience is start by wearing the right kit. You cannot expect to stay warm in the surf while wearing a 3/2mm wetsuit that did well in the warmer months. You’re going to have to increase the thickness of your neoprene. There are wetsuits on the market that will suit most prices ranges, check out our SurfGirl Winter Wetsuit Guide for our pick of the best wetsuits this year.
5. If you’re struggling with the cold and cannot seem to warm up, instead of jumping straight into a hot shower, it’s best to warm up the body gradually. Running around for 5-10 minutes while in your wetsuit, it will help get the blood pumping, so the best thing to do is keep moving!
6. Nothing beats getting out the surf and straight away having a hot drink, so pack a hot flask full of your favourite hot beverage or even better homemade soup, to fuel up after riding the waves! It’s essential to stay hydrated even during the winter months so don’t forget to drink lots of water as well.
Words Corinne Evans