5 Reasons To Keep Surfing Through Winter

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Surfing in winter is very different experience from that of summer. If you’ve learnt to surf this summer, you’ll probably have been surprised at how warm the water was. Most people assume they’ll be freezing cold in minutes! In August, the sea temp is a balmy 16C and a good 3mm wetsuit will be more than sufficient in keeping you toasty.

As summer fades into Autumn we’re starting to see the signs that winter is coming. For lots of people, that means hanging up their neoprene until next year. That’s 6 months without surfing though! 

I can barely go a few days without itching to get in the sea. So here are 5 reasons why you should keep surfing through the winter. (and a few tips to make it a bit easier)

Cold water is great for you! 

The benefits of cold water swimming is well documented. Boosted immune system, reducing muscle pain and helping with mental health to name a few. Paired with the cardiovascular and fitness benefits of surfing mean that cold water surfing is quite possibly the elixir of life and should be prescribed by the NHS. That Wim Hof chap seems to know what he’s talking about. 

Photo: Surfer Today. Arctic waters

Less people in the sea

If you can find a free mid-day hour for a surf then you’ll likely find an uncrowded wave to yourself. I sit and watch Watergate Bay almost every day and have mind-surfed countless empty waves roll by untouched. If crowds is something that puts you off surfing , then winter is the time to get out there and get all the waves you want. 

Sense of accomplishment

If you’ve managed to drag yourself out of bed on a sunday morning whilst it’s still dark outside, drive to your nearest beach and force yourself into soggy neoprene then it doesn’t matter how good the waves were! You’ve won the weekend and that after surf hot chocolate is going to taste even the better for it! *Top tip. Always keep a few bags for life handy to help slip into wet wetsuits. You can even put your boots and glove on before and they’ll slide on easily with the assisted plastic bag. 

Photo: Luke Gartside. A handful of lucky surfers in Watergate

Get fitter

Those surfers in Hawaii don’t know what they’re missing! 5mm wetsuit, boots, gloves and hoods are a winter surfers suit of armour and essential for seeing it through the dark months. With all the extra blubber you’re surfing with extra weight on your body so every paddle and pop-up is that little bit harder. It’s like training whilst carrying weights. It might not feel the easiest thing in the world but when you start shedding the rubber in spring you’ll be fitter and suddenly be surprised at how much easier it is to surf. The only downside is that through summer you get used to thinner wetsuits again so have to repeat the process every year.

Chance to explore

Winter can get pretty stormy in the UK. 10+ft swells and 30+mph winds are fairly common, which means your local beach is likely not on the cards for a surf. It does however mean you can go and explore the coastline to try and find those sheltered corners that only light up when the swell is too big everywhere else. There are plenty of well documented options, but if you’re looking for something a little different, there are some good waves that don’t appear on magicseaweed and are waiting to come alive for winter. 

*Top tip: Before heading into the unknown, hop onto google maps with the satellite image view to check for any potential hidden gems only seen from above.

Photo: Clare James. Windy Fistral

If you do decide to head for warmer climates this winter then i won’t blame you, if any surfer were to tell me they would pick the UK over Sri Lanka, I probably wouldn’t believe them. 

For those that are sticking around and sticking it out, i salute you! 

If you’re looking for a bunch of hardy surfers to share some waves with, check out or Surf Club.

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