Just a few tips for those who are so smitten with surfing that they are willing to brave extreme elements for a chance to jazz the glass. I should start by mentioning that I am just a regular girl and do not claim to be an expert of any sort. These are just a few things that I think make it easier to enjoy surfing in New England year-round.
- Make sure you have the basic proper equipment of course. Your winter attire should consist of a true winter suit (5/4/3 or higher), at least 7mm booties and a good pair of gloves or mitts
- Change in your car if at all possible. At first it seemed nearly impossible for me to get into the thick winter suit from inside the warmth of my car but with a little practice I am pretty good to go now!
- Have your towel, clothing, coat, hat, etc all organized so that when you get back to your car, frozen, you do not have to fumble around looking for stuff!
- Bring a jug of hot water with you and flush your suit when you get out of the water. This not only helps transition but can also be used as a session extendor to heat up a little so that you can go back out! It feels like a hot shower. All you need is hot water from the tap.
- Heat up gloves and booties on the dashboard. This works really well when there is sun but you can also use the defrost setting.
- Once you are suited up, stay in the car for a bit longer until you are HOT. Drink some water while you do this.
- If possible, get a car with seat heaters. SPLURGE. You will thank your toasty ass for it many times over. I use mine all the time in the winter, spring and fall. Editors note 11/08/11: So, my driver's side seat heater self-destructed last winter and nearly burned a hole in my back. Burned right through my coat. I definitely miss it on the colder days! When I can remember, I will turn on the one in the passenger seat and get toasty - always a little nervous now, though.
- Time your paddle out well and conserve as much energy as possible for catching waves.
- When paddling out, stay calm and say some affirming thoughts about staying relaxed, calm and deliberate with all moves even though it is butt-ass cold. Use the mind-over-matter technique and once you catch your first wave you will have worked up some heat.
- Pay attention to your coordination and when you start to feel like you are "losing it" due to the cold, start thinking about ending your session with one more good wave. This way you are being smart and respecting the elements. You may notice this happening when you have caught a bunch of waves in a row and eff them up as soon as you pop up. You can relax, stop beating yourself up and blame it on the extreme conditions.
- Rinse your suit out at home with fresh water. This makes a huge difference in drying time and makes it easier and more pleasant to put your suit on next time.
Hopefully something here will help you out on your pursuit for icy perfection. Just get out there and have fun. Think about July in your head and remember how many people will be out there by summer. Enjoy the opportunity for slimmer lineups and more waves for you!
If you have good ideas I would love to hear them. Feel free to add yours to the comments box!