Winter bodyboarding in the UK and northern Europe is no longer hardcore. There, I’ve said it. We’ve just had an epic bodyboard coaching weekend in the middle of February and the truth is, if you have the right gear, it’s not only ‘survivable’ it’s down right pleasant! Check out my winter bodyboarding tips.
1. Buy an Awesome Winter Wetsuit
Don’t scrimp on a winter suit. Buy the best that you can. The top tip here is to buy your winter suit in the summer and your summer suit in the winter. This will always see you benefit from the best sale price. Get one with a built in hood for ultimate warmth. Xcel and other brands offer a 4/3mm suit with a built in hood. This is plenty warm enough for the UK winter and even though it is only 1 mm thinner than your standard 5/3mm winter suit, you’ll still benefit from a noticeable increase in flex.
2. Wetsuit socks and gloves.
A pair of decent 3 mm wetsuit socks are perfect for winter in Cornwall. I use Alder Impact 3mm and they have never let me down. Remember you will need swim fins that will fit you with the socks on. Many people think that they need 4mm or 5mm thick wetsuit socks. You don’t, not in Cornwall anyway. A good pair of 3mm socks will keep your feet snug and warm for a few hours in the water. I find that the thin gloves (2mm), with single lined material on the outside (the slick looking neoprene) are the best for keeping a good grip of your board.
3. A Board with Flex.
The frigid water temperatures make your boards’ core stiff. So if you have the option from a quiver of boards, go for the most flexible one. Lot’s of the riders in Ireland (and some in the UK) have gone back to using boards with a PE (Dow) core during the winter months due to its increased flex. A low density PP core that has had some use (and as a result has increased flex) is my board of choice for the winter months in Cornwall.
4. Winter Bodyboarding Sessions – Getting Ready
Do what ever you can to prepare for your session before actually going outside. So if you can get changed in to your wetsuit inside the warmth of a building, do it. Spend as little time as possible hanging around in your wetsuit before hitting the water, just get in to your suit, warm up and get out there. If you aren’t against the idea of having a little piddle in your wetsuit then drink some liquids first and it will help along with the ‘internal warming’ process! The best place to store your gloves until you need to put them on is inside your fins. Shove them in there for safe keeping. Then when you’ve run down to the shore, put your fins on, then your leash on, then your ear plugs (if you use them), then your hood up and then put your gloves on last of all. It’s surprising how many people put their gloves on first, which can make this process really hard work.
5. Keep Busy in the Water.
During cold days it can be easy to sit around, trying to avoid duck diving waves and steering clear of any sets. This is the wrong thing to do. You should actually sit just inside the break line and try to maximize the number of waves that you catch. Paddling around hunting waves down, riding plenty of waves and then paddling back out again will keep your body warm and your mind busy. If you’re concentrating on catching waves you’re not thinking about being cold.
Our February bodyboard coaching weekend had great waves only a stones throw from our centre in Newquay. With the right kit on and the right approach, everybody on the course caught loads of waves and didn’t have any issues with the cold at all. We get the best waves during the winter in the UK and thanks to the boffin’s in the wetsuit design departments of the big surf brands we’re kept toasty warm through out the dark months. So there is no excuse not to get out there and enjoy it!
If you fancy joining us for a coaching weekend to improve your riding, meet other bodyboarders and score the best waves in Cornwall, take a look here