photo credit @char_howells
So, you find yourself committed to a winter in the UK, there are definitely worse places to be! So far this year we have had great weather and with the sea temperature at around 12 degrees on the North Cornwall coast things could be a lot worse.
I must confess I’ve not spent that many winters in my adulthood home, from Autumn right through to Spring, but when I do, I make the most of them. Surfing new spots that don’t work in the summer is what I look forward to the most! Cold water.. brrrr! Rain, wind and more rain.. euch!
Here are my tips to get us all through the coldest surf months of the year::
1. Train hard
Swimming is a good way to keep your paddle fitness up, I try to swim at least once a week and find this helps when I haven’t managed to get in the water for a while. Circuits are a good way to keep your pop up fresh. Or just practice your pop up at home several times a week. And practice Yoga to keep yourself strong and flexible.
2. Gear Up!
Make sure you have all the gear; warm suit, boots, gloves and hood! A 5.4.3 wetsuit is normally enough for the UK. I like a built in hood, it gives me more confidence for the hold downs as I know my head will be snug. Boots and gloves to me are a must as my hands and feet definitely feel the cold. I opt for mitts as they seem to drag less through water having less neoprene between the fingers.
3. Ride a bigger board
For some reason my longboard is more appealing in the winter! I think this is because being heavier (not just the wetsuit) and wearing more rubber, surfing seems a lot harder! So if not a longboard then a board with more foam can only help out!
4. Make sure you are warm before you even check the surf
It’s funny how different surf can look with cold eyes! Something you would be full of butterflies for in the summer can look completely unappealing with a cold wind, grey sky and numb toes!
5. When you start to feel a little bit cold catch that elusive wave back to shore
In the winter you can go from being a bit chilly to freezing very quickly and when cold that last wave in is even further out of reach….. I don’t think I have ever had a good wave when my toes are numb and shivers are going up my spine!
6. Either get home or get changed as quick as you can
Getting into a warm house, van or car can be such a relief…..if your hands will allow you to turn the key!
Getting changed make sure you have something to put your bare feet on, a frosty floor is never pleasant! I do not recommend jumping straight into a hot shower if you have any numb areas as not only will this be very uncomfortable at the time it could also affect your circulation in the future.
7. Have a cuppa and a biscuit
Because its nice, it warms you up from the inside and a bit of hard earned sugar can’t be bad….can it?
I will be here this winter, surfing, eating cookies and drinking chai tea….. and when I am not doing this I will try and maintain my paddle fitness doing the things I don’t get to do when the surf is pumping!