Winter Surfing

October 30, 2015 by becca.lazar No Comments

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Cornwall is the unofficial home of UK surfing. Since Australian lifeguards brought their boards to Fistral, in the sixties, the county has become synonymous with waves, campervans, and beach culture.

And little wonder. All but surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, with hot summers and an abundance of beautiful surf spots – offering everything from peeling point breaks to barrel-throwing slabs – Cornwall is perfectly suited to the sport. Consequently, the industry has carved out quite a niche here; equipment and hire shops, surf schools, shapers, and international competitions thrive during the summer months welcoming the hordes of up-country surfers, eager to dive into the beautiful Cornish waters.

The thing is, summer surf in the UK is actually pretty poor. Long flat spells are interspersed, intermittently, by lacklustre lines and only the very occasional good, strong swell. Unsurprising then that most committed surfers look forward to autumn and winter.

While the water gets significantly colder and the weather can be decidedly bleak, the intrepid off-season surfer is rewarded with more consistent waves and more sparsely populated line-ups. In the darker months, it’s not uncommon to have lesser known surf spots all to yourself. Of course, it’s true what they say about safety in numbers – it’s not advisable to surf quiet spots if you are unfamiliar with the rocks, tides, and currents. That stuff is tres dangereux to beginners.

It’s also important to bear in mind that the gear which served you well through tepid summer months will likely be inadequate for the colder part of the year – unless, of course, you were over-prepared for summer. Crucially, you will need a winter suit, with 4-5mm of neoprene on the torso. And, when winter proper hits, and the air temperature is lower than that of the sea, you’ll also be grateful for gloves, boots, and a hood.

Amateur surfers may also be forgiven for overlooking wax grade. The optimum board wax will remain tacky in the water and, since the water temperature changes significantly, so too must your chosen wax. UK winters require ‘cold water’ wax which is unsuitable for summer use due to its low melting point. Likewise ‘cool water’ summer wax might be hard to apply and not tacky enough in winter.

There may be a certain degree of testing your mettle against the conditions, but it’s worth it. Your nose may run, but in the snugness of your winter wetsuit, it doesn’t matter. It’s all about the waves and the space and variety you get from October onwards. It’s one of our favourite reasons to be in Cornwall all year round.

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