No doubt, summer is the season of surfing. When you think of it, nobody can deny that the beach is associated to sun and warm temperatures. But a surfer knows that summer days, in most spots, also mean flat swells, small waves and crowded line-ups.
So even though for the majority of surfers, winter surfing is mostly regarded as a daunting challenge, the cold season comes with interesting appeals. First of all cold water surfers report they are amazed by the high-quality waves winter groundswells bring in most surf breaks. Moreover as you have to paddle harder to get out-the-line, winter is the best gym surfers could enjoy: it’s tough but at the end of the season you will be a more skilled surfer and the difference will be notable. Finally, cold air and water temperatures are a harsh test for one’s love of surfing: only a huge passion for the sport can make you jump out of bed early in the morning to get a handful of freezing waves.
Last but not least, winter surfers love the solitude: surfing good waves with maybe just a couple of other pals around is unthinkable during warmer times of the year. This was particularly true until last year, but spots are not that desolate anymore as more brave water men and women are trying winter surfing during the pandemic. The ocean itself is wide, with plenty of room to be naturally social-distanced and being active outdoors with fresh air and sunshine is a plus. At the same time most people are working from home and a lot of other sports have been cancelled and with winter surfing gear getting so much better and affordable than in the past chilly waters are attracting more and more surfers.
While cold water surfing is undoubtedly rad, when temperature drops below freezing there may be certain risks that can be avoided planning in advance your surf session. The appropriate gear is a must: choose a wetsuit at least 5/4 mm and make sure it has a chest zipper or no zipper at all. Don’t use a detachable hood if you don’t want to get frigid water flushing in everywhere. For booties, go for a 7 or 8 mm or even thicker as feet are the first part of your body to get cold and for your hands mittens are more recommended than gloves. In the end, earplugs are a good advice to avoid the risk of the “surfer’s ear”.
If the destination surf break is not too far, you can wear your booties and wetsuit before leaving home, but make sure to bring your pants, a thick pair of wool socks and shoes for later. A good advice is also to get your surfboard ready at home: give it the right wax and get your fins and leash ready, so you don’t have to handle everything in the cold. Don’t forget to pack some water or hot tea to keep you hydrated and worm and some snacks as the low temperatures make you burn more calories.
When surfing below freezing conditions listen to your body: when you feel you cannot warm up anymore by paddling back and forth around the line, it’s time to get out. You have plenty of other freezing surf days ahead.