Knowing when to quit is crucial. At the end of each fall season, we saddle up for the great Canadian winter of surfing, and in past blogs, we have given you some tips on how to prep for those colder days with our Winter Warmer Tips series. Check out episode 1 and episode 2 here.
This year, however, we give up. F%#k it. We’re leaving. No more neoprene, no more numb hands and chattering teeth. We’re going somewhere hot this year, and you’re coming with us.
In this year's Winter Warmer Tips Episode, we are thinking outside of the wetsuit and giving you some advice for surfing in warm water, without our trusty second skin.
How does a Canadian prepare for warm water surfing?
That first surf in boardies or a swimsuit feels effortless when you’re accustomed to a 5/4mm Hooded suit, 7mm boots and 5mm gloves. The sensation of water on your bare skin is alarming. You feel naked, unprepared.
You’ll want to make sure you have a few essentials to protect yourself from exposure now that you are not clad in your neoprene armour:
Good Sunblock. Essential. Get yourself some cream and a face stick from Headhunter Apply regularly throughout the day, and, when not surfing, spend as much time in the shade as possible.
UV rashguard. We recommend XCEL Wetsuits for this.
Sturdy Boardies/ Bathing suit. Hit up Storm Surf Shop for a wide selection. You’ll want something that is sturdy and allows for good range of motion.
Spares! Double up on swimsuits and rash guards because you will likely have a wardrobe malfunction.
Consider reef booties if the destination calls for it.
Aloe. Even with all that UV protection, you’re probably still gonna find a way to get sunburnt. Put your Aloe gel bottle in the fridge for extra soothing effects.
Vaseline. Rashes are real. While you might be stoked to ditch the wetsuit, you will soon realise that it was protecting you from the dreaded chaffe. Usually after your first few days in the water, you get used to the rash, but have some vaseline or similar lotion on hand to deal with any discomfort after your session.
New Skin this is a super useful item that should live in a surfers’ first aid kits. This stuff is awesome because it forms a waterproof layer over small cuts and rashes, and wont fall off like a regular bandaid.
- Electrolytes without the hindrance of that wetsuit, and without the cold water draining your energy, you might find yourself surfing for 3+ hours. Electrolyte powder is critical to keep your muscles functionoing and avoiding cramps for those longer sessions.
Remember that you’re less buoyant now.
Being covered head to toe in 5mm of rubber has some advantages. In particular, wearing a wetsuit makes us more buoyant, meaning we float quickly back to the surface after a wipeout.
I remember being shocked at how long I spent underwater the first time I took a wipeout on an overhead wave in Nicaragua. Be ready for this, and remember to stay calm underwater. Determine which way is up by opening your eyes to orient yourself towards the light. You can also orient yourself by your surfboard when you feel the tug of your leg rope, as the board will likely be above you.
This also means that you are more likely to have an impact with reef or sand, as the force of the wave will push you deeper underwater. All the more reason to have some New Skin in your first aid kit, as nicks and scrapes from the reef are inevitable.
Channel the Stokefire
Staying warm in the water takes more than just good gear. You have to be motivated and stay active. It’s why Canadian surfers are so stoked - we have to be! That same flame burns brightly when taken down into warmer waters. All those sessions spent battling your wetsuit, the sideways rain, and staving off shivers, pay off in an ecstasy of tropical bliss.
Feel the replenishing warmth, bask in the admiration that surfers have for a true cold water pioneer such as yourself, surf good waves in bathtub warm water, and somehow, for all the reasons that you love it so much, you will still find yourself stoked to return home. Oh, and don't forget the sunscreen!
All Photos by Cristina Gareau
Blog Written by Adam Tory