Winter surfing is the ultimate activity for adrenaline junkies. For those who are willing to brave the icy waves, it offers thrills like nothing else. Whether you want to face the powerful North Atlantic swells of Driftwood, Ireland, the rugged coastlines of Lapoint Surf Camp in Norway, or the uncrowded waves of Punta de Lobos, Chile, the sport has something for beginners and experienced surfers alike.
Whatever level you are and wherever you surf, you need to make sure that you are properly prepared. The icy temperatures of winter surfing can be a real risk to your health, so let’s take a look at some of the ways to keep safe and get the most out of the sport.
Get the Right Gear
No one goes winter surfing without a wetsuit. There are no prizes for cutting corners here, so get the very best that you can afford. A 5mm suit with liquid-sealed seams is an ideal option to keep out the cold – you’ll want a zipperless or chest-zipped model to minimise flushing. A wetsuit with a warm lining will keep your body insulated – go for quick drying if you’re planning to surf on several successive days. Don’t forget your boots, gloves and hood to complete the look, and – last but not least – check that your clothing doesn’t have any holes!
Where the board is concerned, opt for a bigger board with more volume than you’d normally use in summer. Winter waves mean colder, denser water and your wetsuit is heavier, so you’ll need something to give you a little more lift.
Preparation is Key
When you’re facing some of the harshest conditions the ocean can throw at you, it’s important to be physically and mentally prepared. This starts the day before, where you’ll need to fuel your body for the session ahead. Eat well and consider carb-loading to keep you going for as long as possible in the freezing temperatures. As if anyone needs an excuse to eat a load of pasta...
Right before the session, you’ll need to warm up on the beach before you enter the water. Stretch properly and get the blood flowing to your extremities before you plunge into those icy depths. What’s more, remember to protect your skin from chapping by applying moisturiser to exposed areas and then slathering them with Vaseline.
During the Session
When you’re in the water, keep paddling to stay warm. When you’re sitting on your board, tuck your hands into your armpits or put your arms by your sides and shrug your shoulders up and down to get the blood flowing to your hands. Be sensible and keep monitoring how you’re feeling: limit the session according to your heat and energy levels. Stop when you’ve still got something left in the tank.
Back On Dry Land
Everyone has their own post-surf ritual. With winter surfing, this becomes even more important, and getting warmed up is key. You could try taking a hot water bottle out with you to leave in the car. By the time you’ve finished your session, the water will have cooled down enough to give you a lovely warm shower. Standing on a cheap mat or piece of foam is a good way to keep your feet off the ground and it’s a good idea to get your clothes and towel sorted and ready before you hit the water.
Winter Sports Insurance: Keeping You Covered
Like any other extreme sport, winter surfing is not without risk. It’s really important to take out appropriate winter sports insurance to cover you in the case of an eventuality. So make sure that you’re prepared, grab your board and get the most out of this adrenaline-filled activity!
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global single trip, annual, family, business and winter sports insurance. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.