As the temperature drops and most surfers retire their boards for the following summer, it's the die-hard surfers who know that winter is no time to hang up their wetsuits. In fact, winter surfing offers a whole new exhilarating experience, but can also come with its own set of unique challenges. In this blog post, we will share five crucial tips to ensure that your winter surf sessions go swimmingly.
Choose the Right Gear
Cold water surfing demands more than just bravery, it also requires the right protective gear. We'll start with the obvious: a wetsuit.
One of the most important things to look for when choosing a full wetsuit is the thickness of the material. To determine how thick your wetsuit should be, first research the water temperature. Then, reference the guide on this site, or Google one similar, to determine how many millimeters of wetsuit insulation you need to maintain your core's heat. It is recommended to choose a wetsuit anywhere from 3-5mm thick, with glued, blind-stitched, or taped seams to limit water entry. Thinner wetsuits will fail to trap necessary heat, but wetsuits thicker than 5mm may be too cumbersome, which may deplete your energy. Consider investing in other accessories such as boots, gloves, and hoods to prevent hypothermia of your extremities.
Know Your Limits
Winter surfing is prone to heavier waves, reduced visibility, frigid temperatures, and stronger tides and currents. That's why it is imperative that you can properly assess your surroundings and listen to your body.
To maintain safety in the water, be sure to monitor the weather and water conditions before you start riding waves. A good rule of thumb is to go with friends or family, or at the very least, let them know where you're going in case an emergency arises.
Winter surfing is recommended in short increments, as protective equipment can only keep you warm for so long. Once you start feeling cold, that is your body telling you it's had enough. Listen to your body's warning signs, call it a day, warm up, and begin planning your next surf session.
Hydrate! Hydrate! Hydrate!
This one may go against your instincts, but avoid consuming hot beverages like coffee or tea before you throw yourself into any icy swells. It might make you feel warm and cozy, but many hot drinks tend to dehydrate you. Instead, drink plenty of water before surfing in cold temperatures. Hydration ensures two vital components for winter surfing safety: peak muscle endurance and body temperature regulation.
Surfing engages most, if not all muscles in your body. Just like any workout, it's a good idea to warm your body up to reduce the risk of injury. Be sure to do some stretching and light exercise before hitting the waves so you can get the most out of your time in the water.
If you're shivering from the winter chill before you paddle out, it's a sign that maybe you should reconsider your plans altogether. When leaving your home, throw on some layers, blast the heat in your car, and be sure your wetsuit is dry and warm before you wrangle it on. If you haven't realized the theme already, being warm is KEY!
Prioritize Post-Surf Recovery
When you're ready to head back to shore, have a stash of wool socks, snow or UGG boots, blankets, towels, or sweats readily available. This is a critical time to acclimate your body again.
Replenish with water, and take some time to complete the same dynamic and static exercises you did prior to hitting the waves. This will minimize muscle and joint strain.
Once you get home, make sure to relax and get proper rest so you can start planning your next surf outing.
Winter doesn't mean you have to put a hold on your passion. But remember, Mother Nature rewards those who approach her with knowledge and respect. By following these five essential tips, you'll not only stay warm and safe, but you'll also unlock unforgettable cold-water surfing adventures all season long!