Surf lovers will find it wild to ride a surfboard in cold water. However, there is a special category of people, real fans of this sport, for whom even winter is not an obstacle to doing what they love. Riding in extreme winter weather conditions gives them incomparable pleasure. In this article, you will learn why surfing is good in winter, and what nuances you need to consider to ensure comfort on the board, even in the coldest weather.
Features of winter surfing
Like any other water sport, surfing is very energy-intensive. Especially if you plan to ride in cold water. In such conditions, fatigue comes even faster. Therefore, to ride at the same level as in summer, you need to be in excellent physical shape.
Besides, winter surfing is more traumatic. This is primarily since in cold weather, human soft tissues are less elastic. Accordingly, the risk of muscle or ligament sprains increases. Also, for winter surfers, limb cramps are dangerous too.
Another nuisance is ice. Chunks of ice can float in cold water that can hurt you when you fall into the water. Sludge ice is no less dangerous. This is slush on the surface of the water, and it can impede free swimming.
Due to these features, surfing in winter is only suitable for experienced surfers. For the same reasons, cold water surfing competitions are very rare. Thus, professional surfers can make money from this if they only star in various videos, as well as advertisements for television and magazines.
Why is surfing so good in winter?
Firstly, by continuing to surf even in the cold season, you not only keep your physical shape, but you can also improve it. Because in cold water you will have to be on the move all the time so as not to freeze. At first, of course, it will be difficult, but after a week or two, you will notice that you become stronger and more enduring.
In winter, the beaches are less crowded than in summer. This is great news if you are tired of a lot of tourists or surfers in the water, and you miss the feeling of oneness with the ocean. Some places are completely deserted in winter.
You are more likely to catch a good wave. Accordingly, there are more opportunities to work out new tricks and maneuvers in difficult conditions. Thus, surfing on powerful winter waves can quickly take your skills to the next level.
Again, cold water is excellent for the overall hardening of the body. And it can test your strength – are you ready for anything for the sake of surfing? Will you be able to get up early in the morning from a warm bed to go ride the waves?
The feeling of a cold ocean is very different from what you are used to in summer, or riding in a place where it is always warm weather. Surfing in cold water will force you to take a different perspective on your everyday life.
What do you need to surf in cold water?
Since it is cold to ride a surfboard already at a temperature of +16-18°C, Jack O’Neill back in 1952 modernized the wetsuit. This allowed surfers to race even in cold water. For winter surfing, you need a warm wetsuit.
The thickest suits have a 7 mm protective layer; in such clothes, it is quite comfortable to ride in any water. However, choose a model that suits your conditions. Surfers usually buy suits with a thickness of 5-6 mm. They are warm enough and do not constrain movement. At the same time, expensive models are usually more flexible, comfortable, and warm. Please note that the wetsuit must be hooded.
Also, you will need to purchase accessories such as neoprene mittens and boots. Buy mittens, not gloves. When your fingers are in the same air chamber, they warm each other better.
Always check your clothing before riding. Even a small hole in your wetsuit can cause discomfort when you fall into the water. Do not be lazy and check all the seams of the clothes in which you are going to ride to make sure it is intact.
Ice can appear on the board from splashes. Therefore, be ready for the board to be slippery. Currently, brand companies produce boards specifically for winter surfing. They differ in that the upper part has a rough surface, and the board does not become slippery in the cold.
Also, keep in mind that your clothes will weigh 10-15 pounds more. Accordingly, you need a wider board to keep you afloat. Pay attention to heavier boards, with more inertia. This will help you withstand strong winds better.
Hot water for neoprene socks
The secret of experienced surfers who constantly ride in cold climates. Pour hot water into the socks before putting them on. You will immediately notice that this trick saves the situation of hypothermia of the legs.
Ability to quickly put on a wetsuit
Ironically, the most chilling aspect of cold water surfing has nothing to do with the riding itself. The bottom line is that if you put on your wetsuit on the beach, where the wind is cold and it might even snow, you quickly freeze. Therefore, you need to learn how to put on a wetsuit without removing your clothes: you can wrap your legs with a long towel, and put the upper part of the suit right under the sweater.
Of course, the most reasonable thing would be to come to the beach by car, and change inside, safely sheltered from the cold wind. Some surfers who ride often buy vans altogether and drive them to the beach.
Remember that grease cream will help prevent frostbite on exposed skin if you lubricate it liberally before riding. And sand will help wash it off your hands or wetsuit.
The nuances of winter surfing
Since muscles quickly tan in the cold, be sure to warm up and do light stretching for at least 15-20 minutes before riding. Due to this, the muscles and ligaments in ice water will remain elastic longer, it will be easier to ride, and you will not start to freeze so quickly.
Even in the best wetsuit, you are still in cold water, and most likely in an icy wind. The longer you stand still, the more you cool down. Therefore, do not let yourself freeze, and constantly move. You cannot stop. Move your legs, arms, shoulders, and head. This is especially true of the toes since it is the feet that begin to freeze the fastest.
If the water temperature is 10°C, then this is one thing, and if it is 0°C, then it is completely different. Even the thickest wetsuit will not save you from the cold if water gets inside. At 0°C, such unpleasant things happen to the human body that it is better not to talk about them.
If you feel that you are about to fall, try to turn around somehow so as not to fall face down into the water. Cold water will surely seep inside the wetsuit, and this is a very unpleasant, even unforgettable experience. Anyone who has ever felt it on himself knows what it is.
Experienced surfers can even determine the approximate air temperature from the sound of the waves. If it approaches 0°C, then the foam practically freezes on the fly and even its crunch is heard.
Remember the symptoms of hypothermia
This is important because while doing what you love, you can simply not notice that your toes or hands no longer feel much. At first, you may observe yourself with excessive agitation, which is accompanied by chills and shortness of breath. In this case, it is better to stop riding and go to warm up in the car.
Good sleep quality
Lack of sleep affects the body greatly, especially in cold weather. Therefore, before surfing in winter, you need to sleep well. The metabolism will be more stable, and the reaction rate will not slow down. If you are having trouble getting enough sleep due to work or a party, it is best to reschedule your surfing activities to another day. You will spend 2-3 times more energy, and you are unlikely to have enough for a long session.
Nutrition and hydration of the body
If you ride regularly, stick to a carbohydrate-oriented diet to provide your body with the maximum amount of energy. You can also try to learn from the experience of long-distance runners in this regard.
Hot tea or coffee will keep you warm unless exercise is on your agenda. This is because coffee and tea contain caffeine, which dehydrates the body. Accordingly, due to lack of water, you will cool down faster. Before riding, it is better to drink a couple of glasses of warm water and leave coffee and tea for later.
For experienced surfers, surfing in cold water is as enjoyable as surfing in warm water. Take into account all the nuances associated with the preparation for riding, as well as the weather and temperatures of water and air. And surfing in winter will bring you an amazing, incomparable experience.