Watersports in Winter – Be Prepared!

September 5, 2017

Summer has almost ended, but that doesn’t have to be the end for your adventures on water.

Winter can be chilly, but you can enjoy a wide range of watersports in the depths of December; so long as you keep these useful tips in mind.

Shield Against The Cold

Get the proper gear, and by ‘proper’ we obviously mean a high-quality wetsuit – preferably made from Neoprene. It is, after all, the only way to plunge into the freezing waters and still have any energy for the activity you want to enjoy.

With a width of at least 5mm, and made from the best quality rubber you can afford, your suit is the absolute ‘must’ for your winter excursions to the sea.

Material and width are the most important but do make sure other design elements are winter-oriented.

Good warm lining and liquid-sealed seams are essential, while chest zip models (or with no zip at all) will keep flushing to the minimum – which is ideal. Size and fit are obviously significant, but especially so in winter, since extremely tight fits will hinder blood flow and your body’s effort to keep warm.

If you are a naturally cold person, opt for a heated suit – or at least a heated vest.

Covering the feet is very important since it will likely be the part of your body mostly in touch with the cold waves. So pick a nice pair of boots, along with gloves. A hood would be a nice addition too.

If you already have a winter suit, make sure it is in excellent condition. Check for openings or tears and if you find any, do your best to seal them off. Winter sea water coming into your suit is not a pleasant experience.

Pick the Right Board

Winter waves are typically much bigger…which is great!

Since the water will get a bit rougher than usual, you can make things easier by picking a surfboard that is bigger and bulkier than your summer favourite.

This will make it less likely that you’ll fall in and hopefully keep you a lot warmer.

Prepare Properly

Your surfing session’s success in the frigid ocean will be largely determined long before you hit the waves. Your body needs to be properly prepared to withstand the elements.

First of all, fill up your energy tanks. Have a good meal of complex carbohydrates, proteins and plenty of water.

What to eat and when pre-race (by Sheila Kealey)

Cold air and water tend to dry up your skin and lips, which can lead to excruciating pain afterwards. So, applying plenty of your moisturiser before putting on your suit, as well as some Vaseline on top to seal the moisture is a must – and essential for your social life!

Do your best to remain warm on your way to the shore and before putting on your gear.

As soon as you touch the sand, stretch and warm up before entering the sea. Those of you having a heated suit have a significant advantage but still need to warm up properly to reduce the risk of injury.

Another crucial part of your preparation is learning a few things in advance about hypothermia, including its symptoms and ways to tackle it. Though an unlikely event if you have the proper gear, knowing what to look for is always the right path to go.

Finally, choose a spot that matches your skill, style and level of experience. If you have not been in the water much before during the winter, it would be best to pick a beach you would consider ‘easy’ to master during the summer.

Avoid challenging coasts, at least for your first few sessions.

Plan your Exit in Advance

The most difficult part of your winter watersports adventures will be your exit from the water! So, be wise and get properly organised well before entering the sea.

First of all, take with you a neoprene mat, a camping mattress, or a piece of foam to stand on while changing, as the wet sand will be freezing, and the pebbles and stones will seem like razors to your cold feet.

Plan in advance the whole changing process. Then, organise your towel and clothes orderly, so you will not have to search your back trying to find your underwear or socks while being soaked to the bone.

Take everything out and place them in order of use will make your life a lot easier when you decide you’ve had enough of the water.

While on the Water

Take a friend with you, with equal or even more winter experience than you. Keep an eye on each other.

For surfers, constant movement is crucial if you want to make the most of your time in the waves. Do not waste time with duck diving! Rush to make it over the top of clean-up sets.

While waiting for the waves to surge, keep your hands clasped within your armpits or under your hips.

Spend less time in the sea than you used to in your summer sessions. Winter surfing is much more strenuous and combined with the adverse weather and cold water; your energy will reasonably drain up much faster.

Bear in mind that a considerable amount of energy is spent in your body’s struggle to keep you warm.

Do not wait to feel exhausted to head out to the beach.

You will need some strength to fight your way back, especially if the spot you chose has strong underwater currents.

After Exiting the Water

The most intimidating thought as you near the beach is getting out of that suit.

However, if you have prepared your clothes and towels properly, you have nothing to fear. In just a few seconds you will be ready to return home.

You will see as soon as you put on your dry clothes, you will feel revitalised and warm. Just make sure you wear a woollen cap to protect your head better.


Winter does not have to be a dead period for watersports enthusiasts. Just follow our advice, and you will enjoy the waves all year round!

Use TOAD to find some great locations nationwide