What the old guys say
The older generation will tell you that the halcyon days of surfing are long gone and exist only in the minds of those that experienced them. In some way i think they are right however, I also think there’s a lot to be said for now.
Ten years ago the winters were something many people dreaded. Cornwall would shut down and tumble weed would start blowing through the villages. Surfing was more of a battle for survival than anything else.
Things have changed. I, along with many other people out there almost look forward to the winter now. The line up is empty apart from a handful of friends. The ocean possesses a power that is absent throughout the summer months and allows you to fly down the line and really drive through each turn. There’s a higher standard of surfing in the water, people aren’t tense and frustrated. There is no shortage of waves and there seems to be far better atmosphere in the water. Most importantly, we’re warm.
Cold water surfing has really started to command the respect it deserves largely due to incredible advances in technology and certain spots like Mavericks and Shipsterns Bluff allowing phenomenal surfers to show how intense and heavy cold water waves really are. I’m not saying warm places aren’t heavy but there is something about cold water that adds something more menacing, especially when you throw a few Great Whites into the mix.
I’ve even considered flushing my suit in January because I was too hot. To be honest It was brand new and I was wearing a thermal rash vest but still I think it is amazing that we can now feel not only feel comfortable but less restricted warm.
Cold water surfing has become fashionable and that isn’t a bad thing. Big brands were all about board shorts, t-shirts, palm trees and sun kissed lands. Cold water wasn’t sellable to the mass market. Now companies like Finisterre and Patagonia are flying the flag for those dwelling nearer the poles.
I love living in England, I enjoy single malt whiskies, ale, a good fire and a comfy chair. I enjoy all of those things even more after surfing in the deep, dark depths of winter. Other places around the world don’t have the spectacular change of climate like we do and many of my friends that have moved to warmer climates miss that.
I’ve always said that the best way to get through the winter months is to get in the water as much as possible. I also think that if you are going to do that then you need to surf through the transitional phase of November and December when the sea temperature drops a couple of degrees and the air temperature drops dramatically. If you have too long out the water it makes getting back in so much harder.
Make the most of the technology and invest in a new wetsuit. It opens up a whole new world that once seemed grim and miserable but now seems easier. We are living in the halcyon days of cold water surfing. I’ll see you out there.