Cold Water Surfing – What Is It And Why The Hell Would Anyone Do It?

What the hell is cold water surfing?  You mean surfers surf in the winter when the water is freezing cold?  Yup!  That is exactly what they do.  Watch this video and imagine yourself trying this.  

Generally speaking, surfers are kind of like the ultimate athlete in the wide world of sports.  They are thrilled when they find humungous, colossal, tsunami walls of water, and then they balance themselves on a thin piece of fiberglass or wood, called a surf board, and risk their lives for the ultimate thrill ride. 

If they are lucky enough to avoid the sea, which is trying to swallow them alive, or maybe if they tumble into the deep, and fight off the giant great whites, they swim back out and wait patiently for the next swell to come along. 

They do all this on the most beautiful beachside waters of the world, in the most beautiful weather in the world, and surrounded by the most beautiful people in the world.  But when you hear that they’re doing this in arctic-temperature waters…are you kidding me?  Ouch!!!!  Burrrrrrrrrr!  Oh my god! 

cold-water-surfing

You should know that cold water surfers are very clever athletes who know that they must protect their bodies from the freezing cold waters by wearing the best wet suit they can find, and other important accessories.  Unlike normal surfing, not wearing the right gear isn’t just a bad idea, it means death.  

Cold Water Surfing Wet Suits

In today’s world, we have automobiles that drive themselves.  We have computers that connect the entire planet of 7 billion people.  We have humans, who will soon leave for the planet Mars, never to return.  And, we now have wetsuit technology that allows inaccessible beach front waters, that is crazy wild and crazy cold in the winter, to allow the surfer a chance to experience cold water surfing.

cold-water-wetsuit

So, a specific wetsuit is needed for sub-zero surfing.  Let’s talk about the kind of wet suit that is needed for such a crazy sport, should you want to experience the thrill and the danger of powerful undertows, wild waves, and no warmth.

Such a wetsuit needs to be full body, so that the surfer can handle the freezing water temperatures.  And it needs to be thicker than the average suit – try 5 or 6 mm of thickness!

measuring-wetsuit-thickness

When Purchasing A Winter Wetsuit

Your appropriate winter wetsuit for cold water surfing is going to have to be flexible, tape-sealed, and it will probably cost you a fair amount… more than your average wetsuit, since it is thicker, and will come with more components.  

6mm-wetsuits-surfing-winter

You need to specifically look out for your extremities, so thick 8mm boots, gloves, and a hood will be imperative.  Your head and your feet must be guarded at all times when doing this kind of surfing, and there’s no breaking these kinds of rules, since you are risking a lot, simply by doing this kind of surfing in the first place.  Knowing the water temperature and the air temperature is crucial.

Be Mentally And Physically Prepared

Our parents were always telling us when we were little, never go in the water right after eating.  That might have been true when you were young, but not if you’re about to go into battle with the raging freezing ocean waters of the deep.  You must nourish your body before the battle begins. 

A good pre-sub zero surf romp meal might look like this …

  • complex carbohydrates, such as a baked sweet potato lightly seasoned with olive oil and garlic
  • protein in the form of a substantive cut of chicken breast, cooked to perfection in your electric bbq
  • a large champagne glass filled with purified water
  • at least two cups of steamed spinach fresh from your community garden

Your body is fuelled with the best food on the planet Earth, and your body needs warm clothing.  You need to turn up the heat.  Dress in your favourite long johns, and your new down-feathered jacket.  You’re feeling very hot you say, well not for long.

winter-surfing-what-is-it

Once you arrive at your location, stretch your muscles, especially your quads, hamstrings, ankles, hips and shoulders.  Unloading the board and dressing for the occasion in that expensive wetsuit etc., should raise your body temperature.  Your goal is to reduce blood flow to your skin, and keep your blood near your core muscles, which protect your vital organs.  Your wetsuit and accessories will do the rest once you enter the water.   

Choose Your Board Wisely…

Cold water is much denser, and thus heavier than when it is warm, so your board, should be the same.  Choose a surf board that is bigger, with more weight than what you are using on hot summer days.  Think of it as your armour!

winter-surfing-board

You will also need to move more than usual.  Shrug your shoulders and limber up.  Hide your hands under your arms to conserve heat.  Squat a little deeper and paddle with more enthusiasm.  Avoid excessive duck diving.  

Finally, read up on hypothermia.  Here’s a video you might want to watch before you go cold water surfing for the first time.

Final Thought

Remember that tall glass of filtered water you drank at dinner.  Well, urinating in your wetsuit will warm you up, if you really get cold as you do the “front side snap”. 

You can always sanitize your wetsuit once you are safe and sound, snuggled up with your loved one in front of the roaring fire, when you get back home.  

Remember, that just because you love regular surfing doesn’t mean you’re going to love cold water surfing.  It certainly isn’t for everyone, but those who love it, love it a lot! 

Montauk New York

davetimberwolf

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davetimberwolf