Top 5 | Worst Things About Surfing in the Winter

By Jay Vilarrubi-Smith

I love surfing. I feel very lucky to be able to surf all-year round. But boy are there times when I bloody hate surfing in the winter.

It would be very easy to wrap this article up in three short words: It’s. Blooming. Freezing. But apparently that isn’t “good enough” for Clunk so in no particular order, here’s my top 5 worst things about surfing in the winter:

The Pressure

Life’s easy when it’s warm – if the waves are good you’re in and you’re not looking back. If the waves aren’t very good then you might just go out for a paddle or have a bbq on the beach.

It isn’t quite that straight forward when it’s Baltic outside. If the waves are good you have to go in. If you don’t, you’ll just spend the day inside watching old episodes of Top Gear and having to make up an excuse when your friends ask you if you went in or not.

There’s something about feeling like you have to go in rather than it being a decision you just naturally came to. You’ll find yourself pulling on your soggy boots and wondering when surfing stopped being fun.

After all, it could be weeks before the winds drop and there’s decent waves again.

The Waves 

Let’s get things straight, the waves in the winter can be absolutely epic. How many times when you’re grovelling in some summer slop do you long for those winter swells?

The problem is that when the winter swells come in, you realise you’ve got quite comfortable surfing that summer slop. Now it’s suddenly 4-5ft with strong offshores and you feel like you’re in Hawaii.

You’ll soon find yourself taking sets on the head and asking yourself when you became so unfit.

By the time you’ve finally got used to surfing on a wave with some actual power, doing some actual turns, it’s suddenly summer again and you’re back to milking out a few tiny cutbacks.

The Gear

It’s 7pm and the golden sun is gracefully making it’s way towards the horizon. You fancy going in for a dip after a day on the beach, so you grab your short-arm wetsuit and in no time you’re admiring your tan lines in the warm sea.

Sounds good right? Well in the winter it goes something a bit more like this…

It’s 3pm and it’s grey and drizzly. You’ve been watching Top Gear all day but you can’t put this surf off any longer – you told your friends you were going surfing.

Muttering under your breath you’ve managed to pull your wetsuit on, although you’ve now lost all feeling in your nails. Now you just have to squeeze into your damp boots which smell suspiciously of urine, work your way into the stubborn gloves and finish by reducing your breathing capacity by 50% with a claustrophobic hood.

Great. It’s 30 minutes before it gets dark.

Getting Changed

If you were being sensible you’d get changed into your wetsuit at home, as to avoid the horror that is getting changed outside in the winter.

The problem is, if you get changed at home you’ve already committed to going in. What happens if it’s actually twice as big as was forecast?

That’s why you’re crouched in the car park with a towel wrapped precariously around your waist, hoping to try and take some shelter behind your car.

An extremely cold hour later and you’re dreaming of being all warm in your coat with the heater on full blast. The only issue is that you can’t feel your fingers enough to get your car key out and even then, good luck trying to get your clothes on.

All buttons and zips are abandoned and you decided it wasn’t worth putting both socks back on. You sure had better had a wave or two which made it worthwhile.

Time Constraints

When it’s light at 8.30 and dark again at 4 it doesn’t take a scientist to work out that you’ve got less time in which you can actually surf, even if you really really want to.

For starters, you’re probably going to have to wait until your day off before you can go in. Having seen the swell line up perfectly for those days you were stuck in the office, the winds inevitably turn onshore as the weekend approaches.

Not only do you have to wait until your day off, you also have to hope that you have the time on those days to actually go in.

By the time you’ve walked the dog, done those few bits around the house and anything else you can think of to avoid actually going surfing, it’s already 3pm and you’re wondering if it’s even worth it. Are there any old episodes of Top Gear on?