How to Survive Cold Water Surfing
So, it’s the dead of winter and you’ve found yourself wanting to surf a cold-water wave. Winter brings out the best surf in many areas, and if you’re bold enough to brave the cold in places like the Northeast, you’ll be rewarded with empty lineups and world class surf. However, getting out in such uninviting conditions can be a bit daunting for the first-timer. Luckily, we’ve got you covered. The Charming Shark Survival Guide to Cold Water Surfing will get you through those icy sessions and frothing for some more.
Get Yourself A Proper Wetsuit
First things first! Get yourself a good quality winter wetsuit. You’re going to need some rubber that can withstand the cold. Head to your local surf shop and see what people are wearing for the winter months in your area. Go with the best cold water wetsuit you can get your hands on; this is the one area you definitely don’t want to skimp on. We’re talking a five-millimeter wetsuit and up for water that’s below 45 degrees. Also, be sure that your wetsuit has an attached hood. You’ll thank me later.
Invest in Gloves and Boots
You’re going to want to feel your hands when you paddle. Investing in some good gloves and boots for winter surf is a must. Boots also have the added bonus of giving you some extra grip on your board. Again, going with a five-millimeter thickness is a good start, but ask your local shop owner for advice on your area.
Make Some Hot Coffee or Tea
Fill up your thermos with some hot coffee or tea before you head out for a surf check. Pro-tip: If you have a good quality thermos that keeps your beverage warm for a while, save some coffee for after your surf and enjoy the warm deliciousness as you thaw out and chat with friends about the session.
Practice Time Management
Getting in and out of a winter wetsuit is vastly more time consuming than changing out of board shorts or a spring suit. Make sure you plan to have enough time before and after your session for changing. The last thing you want is to cut your session short when the waves are pumping because you have to be somewhere and can’t get out of your 5mil.
A Pre-Session Stretch
Get that blood flowing with a quick stretch to generate some body heat. Stretching is generally a good thing to do before any surf session, but it also helps to loosen you up when you’re in that 5mil winter wetsuit of yours.
A Warm Change of Clothes
This is essential! Whether you’re changing on the beach, in the parking lot, or back home, make sure you have a warm change of clothes on hand. There’s no better feeling than finishing up an epic winter session and slipping into some warm, comfortable clothes. Throw on a beanie and break out your favorite Charming Shark necklace to enjoy the post-surf chat with friends.
Bring a Positive Attitude
This isn’t the tropics. The water here isn’t bathtub warm and crystal blue, but that doesn’t mean the stoke isn’t high. A positive attitude has a way of melting that icy feeling away and getting you out there surfing winter waves. In an age of extreme creature comforts, there is something about embracing the cold that is liberating, exciting, and dare I say healthy.
If you’re able to check all of these off the list, you’re ready to catch some waves in your favorite cold water surf spot. If you’re looking for some surf spots to test out your cold water chops, look no further than here. Both Montauk and Nantucket see some premiere surfing conditions in the heart of the winter season, and the best part- no crowds. Throw on your favorite Charming Shark piece, and get after those empty winter barrels! You know what they say- fortune favors the bold…
Written by: AJ Letterel