Words by Matt Clark — Luex Travel. All photos courtesy of Red Bull.
Winter is well and truly here! And who cares if the water is a little chilly? Well, erm, everyone — but this in itself is part of winter’s appeal. The waves are pumping and the cold keeps the crowds away, which means you can often score achingly perfect waves with relatively little competition. Whether you’re going to Norway, Ireland, New England, surfing at home, or even heading down to Chile, embrace the cold: it’s your ticket to some of the best waves of your life.
Having spent several years living on the wild and windy cost of North East Scotland (and more recently surfing some glacial-melt river waves in the Alps), I like to think I know a little about cold water. Most of the world gets better surf in winter than summer, and Scotland is no exception. Sure, given the choice, most of us would opt for a surf destination warm enough to surf in board shorts, but there’s a actually lot to be said for the chillier oceans on this planet. When you walk down the beach at Aberdeen in a blizzard, with -13°C air temperatures and a distinctly slushy tinge to the shore break, you know you’re not going to have any crowds to compete with!
A little cold is no excuse to skip your dose of surf stoke, so here are 7 tips to help make cold water winter surfing more enjoyable.
Neoprene. There’s no way around it: if you want to actually enjoy those frigid waves, good rubber is absolutely essential. Buy the best 5mm suit you can afford. Liquid-sealed seams are key, and ideally go zipper-less or chest zip to minimise flushing. Likewise, repair any rips or tears – while a couple of holes aren’t a big deal in summer, you’ll really notice the cold water flooding in. Look for a suit with a good warm lining, and consider a quick dry lining – nothing puts a damper on a session liking struggling into a soaking wetsuit in a windy car park.