Why Cold Water Surfing Sucks

I started to surf in cold water. Most of my days surfing are spent freezing my butt off in a 6/5/4 mm wetsuit. Howling winds, freezing temperatures and frozen toes and fingers is part of my daily routine.

It Sucks

Here are some reasons why you should never start surfing in cold water areas.

No Localism

Every spot I surf is in need of serious regulation. Even though some people know what they´re doing, they don’t understand the surf etiquette. Nobody even waxes windshields after a drop in! Nobody gets in fights – and often someone will just talk to you.

Everyone is always in such a good vibe and it is really annoying. Who said surfing was supposed to be fun?

The locals are doing a really bad job at being the locals…
Image  Credit

Image Credit

Secret spots

People are always telling me about their secret spots.

It doesn’t matter if the spot is:

  • A four hour drive on icy roads

  • Only working mid-winter

  • Only working on a specific tide

  • Only working on a certain swell direction and size

  • Pretty much un-scoreable

… people will tell you about it.

Oh, so no one is ever going to score it unless they actually put in a lot of effort? Whatever, I don´t care, make secret spots great again!

Make secret spots great again!
Image credit  Ryan Osman

Image credit Ryan Osman

Surfing Longboards

Surfing long boards actually keeps you warm in winter. You are above the water, which means a minimum of cold-water leakage into the wetsuit.  The whole session you are almost too toasty.

But then you are going back to the car, and naturally you want to strap your board on top of it (it does not fit in the trunk). All righty-o, no problemo.

You take off your gloves expecting to find fingers – but you only find five un-useable items, which resemble raisins. They were once your fingers and now they really can´t deal with cold winds anymore.

Your fingers really can´t deal with cold winds anymore.

Using half an hour trying to use the raisins to strap the boards – you suddenly say fuck it and realise why every kook north of the Arctic Circle uses a short board.

Image credit:  Hallvard Kolltveit

Image credit: Hallvard Kolltveit

It Is Too Consistent

It is mid-winter and the forecast for the next week is looking crazy. If I lived somewhere warm I would not have a single complaint. But no, living somewhere cold, this is how a typical week looks:

First day: It is a bit cold but not too bad. Your wetsuit is almost dry. You surf for 4 hours and you are stoked. You rinse your wetsuit and hang it out to dry. Just like surfing warm water, it is pretty mellow.

Second day: You forgot to take your wetsuit inside and now it is just an ice block, which smells like urine. Oh well, the waves are pumping so might as well go. You think to yourself “I’ll bring hot water to defrost the suit”.

Well, there goes that idea Image Credit:  Ryan Osman

Well, there goes that idea Image Credit: Ryan Osman


Of course, you forget.

Never the less, You are here now and the surf is pumping. Your body and the 4-degree seawater will defrost it fast enough. You are slightly cold throughout the session, but you forget it soon enough. Cold is only mental up to a certain point.

Third day: Your arms feel like they have weights on them. Because they actually do. Winter suits get heavy. Top that off with 7mm gloves, you are actually carrying kilos on your arms. If you wanted sore arms you could have gone to the gym, right?

Image Credit:  Sam Billingham

Image Credit: Sam Billingham

Repeat. And repeat. And repeat.

So the winter continues. Can we get a rest day please? Surfing cold water sucks*

*Of course, there is also the close knit community, epic landscapes and satisfaction that you are surfing spots that were inaccessible only 30 years ago. So I guess it kind of evens out. Kind of.