As the long summer evenings are replaced with short, cold windows of light, one driving passion never fades, our love for surfing and the ocean. At this time of year, it’s impossible to just throw your wetsuit and board in the back of the car and head to the coast. The UK is littered with surf spots that come alive as the temperatures drop and the this certainly shouldn’t stop making the most of the winter swell conditions. The key to tackling surfing in the winter is preparation and here at Surfdome we’ve got the best tips and tricks to keep you in the water longer.
Don’t skimp on the neoprene, get the thickest wetsuit your budget can allow for. Some UK waters can drop to as cold as 6 degrees so naturally you’ll need a thicker wetsuit. You can shop all our wetsuits here but for colder water look for 4mm thickness for water around 11.5 °C to 13.5 °C. For even colder water around 5 °C to 11°C shop for 5mm or 6mm. Ideally, shop for one with no zips or a chest zip as there’s less chance of the freezing water seeping in where it shouldn’t. In water temperatures under 10°C you should use added extras including gloves, hoods and boots which become essential to keep your extremities warm and ensure you can stay in the water for longer. You can opt for mittens or gloves depending on what will be less restricting in the water but at most UK locations in the winter they become essential. Shop all of our surf shop here.
Before you’ve even left the house fuel up before heading to your surf spot. Have a warm, hearty meal that will give you a boost of energy for when you hit the colder waters, the last thing you want is to feel drained of energy. Think quick complex carbohydrates including rice and pasta that will slowly release energy throughout your session.
Wrap yourself up in a toasty outfit including thermal underwear, long-johns, jumper and a down jacket before you set off and blast the heating in your car or van to remain as warm as possible before hitting the water. For extra warmth grab a thermos bottle like this one and fill it hot water/coffee/hot chocolate. Wrap your dry clothes and towel around the bottle whilst you’re in the water and you’ll come back to dry clothes and a hot drink you’ll be thankful for.
For safety reasons, never surf in the winter alone. UK beaches aren’t lifeguarded throughout the colder spell and so if you’re feeling nervous or apprehensive have someone competent and experienced with you. Even book a surf lesson until you get used to the different conditions.
Make sure your kit is up to scratch and get yourself some winter board wax specifically made for colder conditions. It’ll give you better traction in the water and ultimately a better surf session. You can watch this handy how to guide to waxing your surfboard if you’re unsure.
IN THE WATER
When you’ve braved the conditions it’s important to keep moving. Moving around and paddling will keep your blood pumping and ultimately keep you warmer. Put your hands under your armpits for added warmth and avoid duck-diving as much as possible. Look after your mates too and watch out for symptoms of hypothermia (shivering, shallow breathing) if you’re in the water for long periods of time.
Once you’ve had your fix it’s important to get out of the cold and into the warmth as quickly as possible. You’ll be tired coming out of the water as your body will have exerted a lot of energy trying to keep warm. Get back to shelter, whether that’s a van or car, and make sure your clothes are laid out in order, so you can get changed as quickly as possible. Grab yourself one of these dry robes to keep you covered whilst you changed. It’s super lightweight and the synthetic lambs wool material on the inside will dry you instantly. You can also enjoy the hot drink that’s been keeping your clothes warm.
ENJOY THE POST-SURF BUZZ
Indulge yourself in the post-surf thrill. There’s nothing quite like plunging yourself into the freezing temperatures and having an epic surf. Once you are back on dry-land have a hot bath and keep yourself wrapped-up. But, don’t forget about your wet kit! There’s nothing worse than putting on a wet, cold wetsuit so make sure you rinse it out and hang it up to dry before your next session!