Winter surfing, practical advice for surfing in the cold
Surfing during the colder months presents a unique challenge that can daunt even the most experienced surfer.
In Italy the season with the best waves is undoubtedly winter. Unfortunately in our country the most consistent storms arrive together with the cold, a true surfer can't wait for this time of year to try his hand at bigger and more powerful waves. If you are still at the beginning and you don't want to give up when low temperatures arrive, it is useful to evaluate some practical aspects.
Useful tips on surfing in winter
Before you start surfing in winter, we suggest you follow a few tips. Below is a list of things to do and those to avoid for surfing even in winter.
Always go out with a friend
The number one rule of surfing is to never go out alone especially in winter , when cold temperatures are likely to drain your energy faster and you are more prone to accidents.
Also during particularly cold days when there may be little motivation to go out, friends can encourage you to do so.
Use a good wetsuit
In many ways the wetsuit is more important than the surfboard . Wetsuits are measured in millimeters of thickness: in winter it is advisable to wear a 4/3mm or 5/4mm wetsuit, as well as boots, gloves and a hood. The fit must be perfect, so it is advisable to go and buy it in a specialized store rather than buying it online.
Did you know that hot drinks warm initially, but can actually be counterproductive if consumed before entering the water? Hot drinks such as coffee or tea stimulate diuresis so it is best to consume them after the session to help the body warm up more quickly. Better drink a couple of glasses of water and save hot drinks for later .
A proper hydration is the key to improve blood flow .
Stretch before entering the water
Warm up and stretch just like you would for any other sport. Muscles tend to stiffen in contact with cold water. Pay particular attention to the muscles of the cervical spine, they are the ones that suffer the most during the winter sessions as they remain uncovered.
Once in the water, move often and try to sit still on the board for a short time to avoid feeling too cold and always try to move with fluid movements so as not to stiffen the muscles of the cervical spine.
Organize everything first
In winter it is important to consider daylight. The sun already sets around 4.30pm and the temperature drops rapidly, so it is advisable to get out in time to get to the car and change before it gets too cold. Take into account your movements, how long it takes to get dressed and warm up. Give yourself plenty of time to recover from the cold.
Always start warm
Make sure that the equipment is completely dry before putting it on . If the waves are beautiful and you plan to spend the day at the beach, bring a spare wetsuit with you. Don't throw away the old wetsuits unless they are really ruined, they can come in handy in winter as a second wetsuit for any other sessions. Leaving home already dressed is advisable if you live rather close to the sea, especially if you go for a hasty bath before going to work and it is really cold outside, coming home and slipping under the hot shower with your wetsuit still on can be a real pleasure.
Put the right wax on the board
It's always important make sure the board is properly waxed , so your feet have the friction needed to push off and balance your body weight.
In the winter, make sure you have one wax suitable for colder temperatures to make sure you don't slip and fall into the icy waves. There are now many types of ecological waxes on the market with optimal yield to avoid using paraffin, made with petrolatum and chemical additives. Also in this case you can opt for an ethical and sustainable choice.
Avoid falling into the water
If you want the session to be long and you want to postpone as much as possible the moment when you have to go out because of the cold, better avoid falls. Even if sometimes it turns out to be impossible, going underwater would go accurately avoided in winter so, unless it's a duck dive, avoid diving . Taking a dip in freezing temperatures takes your breath away, makes you lose energy and makes it difficult to stay in the water.
Bring a tank of hot water with you
There wetsuit it is perfect for protect you from the cold , but taking it off once you get out of the water, in the cold, can be a hard blow!
Deposit hot water on the chest and back before taking off the wetsuit helps to overcome the sudden change in temperature due to this transition and to prevent you from turning into a popsicle!
Always carry a tank of hot water with you!
Plastic cans are often found on the beach brought by the sea, this is a very good way to reuse them.
Try to stay as little time as possible with your feet in contact with the frozen ground, hypothermia often starts from the extremities of the body, so always carry something with you to rest your feet on while you change, even the same bag in which you will leave the wet suit.
Bring sunscreen and a moisturizer
Fortunately, even in winter there are beautiful sunny days, don't forget to put sunscreen on your face which, in addition to protecting you from UV rays, serves as a screen from the salt and the cold.
Winter temperatures usually tend to dry skin . If this is also combined with the salt water of the sea, the final result is cracked and damaged hands . Bring one with you moisturizing cream to massage vigorously on dry ends after you've finished your ride on the waves.
Always bring a hot drink
The towels and car heater help beat the chill after you get out of the water, but one cup of coffee or tea hot is a wise and ecological choice to quickly increase the body temperature . In addition, offering a cup of hot tea is a great way to make friends or to share the evolutions you have just performed with friends.
Get out of the water as soon as you feel tired
The cold makes you lose energy much faster than warm summer water. Everything seems heavier: the water, the wetsuit, the arms and this makes it much more difficult to move.
It is especially important in winter listen to your body and stop surfing as soon as you feel the first symptoms of tiredness . Your goal is simply to enjoy surfing the way you do in the warmer months, not to break a record!
Even for the most experienced surfer it is best to avoid a day of surfing in winter if the temperatures are prohibitive.