With winter swells and dropping water temperature due to arrive in Central California by mid-autumn, I found myself in need of a new wetsuit for the season. A recent purchase of what I assumed to be a top-of-the line wetsuit transformed into a saga of undulating emotions and, more importantly, warmth.
Of course I wasn’t blindsided by this need, I knew all summer a new suit was in the cards, but procrastination persevered until October when I purchased a brand-spanking-new XCEL Drylock 4’3.
I’d been partial to O’Neill suits in the past, but after hearing XCEL’s praises sung by many friends in the water and out, I decided to sack up and drop the $460 plus tax to see what I was missing in the form of Drylock technology. I was not disappointed. Initially.
If you’re new to surfing, it’s most likely you started in the summer. Well, winter surfing may appear daunting – bye, bye board shorts, hello gimp gear – but it’s fantastic, powerful and not to missed.
More than any other, surfing is a sport dictated by the elements. Wave, wind, and weather can align to create perfection, slop, or anything in between. Without wave energy, however, the whole endeavor would be in vain.
Yes you’ll need to kit yourself out a bit, but a lot of the worry about winter surfing is misplaced. Here’s why with a little prep you’ll be good to go.
One of the basics beginner surfers need to pick up is which wax for surfboards works best – and how to use it based on the conditions. Without surf wax, riding any surfboard is an impossibility – the deck will simply be too slick to lay on, let alone stand up on.
Thankfully, wax is the least cost prohibitive of all surfing essentials. Costing about £2 per bar, be sure to stock up on Sticky Bumps, Mrs. Palmers, Sex Wax, Wave Equation, or any preferred brand.
While the name on the label won’t matter, the temperature gradient will. Surf wax comes in several hardness variations all corresponding to the water temperature you’ll be surfing.
Naturally, you’ll need a wetsuit to ensure your winter surfing sessions last longer than five minutes. But when buying wetsuits you can’t just throw on any neoprene sweater and paddle out. And you’re likely to need a suit to match spring and autumn conditions too.
Water is denser than air, less forgiving, and voraciously steals your body heat. When it’s cool outside, surfing will increase circulation and make you feel warm. And although blood will be pumping as you paddle around looking for waves, the sensation of body warmth is soon lost in cool water.
The golden rule of buying wetsuits is simple: the thicker the suit, the warmer and less flexible it will be. Of course we’d all like to be comfortably warm when surfing, but because surfers require a great range of motion – especially in the shoulders and arms – we have to find a happy medium between the warmth and flexibility of our wetsuits.
As surfing equipment goes, a longboard is the most legendary of designs. Built for the sole purpose of catching waves, they can range anywhere from 8 to 12 feet in length, utilize different fin set-ups, and showcase a variety of shaping modifications.
Why buy a longboard?
Longboards are often a good choice for novice surfers looking to familiarize themselves with the sport. Their mass and volume make longboards more buoyant than other boards and therefore easier to paddle and catch waves.
When determining how to buy a longboard, ask yourself three things.
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