Like the falling leaves of Autumn, that small punchie wave you mis-jumped that shocks your ‘baby making apparatus’ as you wade through the shallows is usually the sure-fire signal. Regardless of how cool we think we are, what follows this event is a rather unusual involuntary vocal reaction, like some dark dark place between squeaks and groans. Definitely not sexy ones.
The end of January is usually the time the sea temperature noticeably drops in the UK and it doesn’t really get that much warmer until the tail-end of May. It’s true, there’s a whole website dedicated to it.
No messing about, cold sea temperature can be frigging dangerous. You can die if you’re not prepared! Cold water shock makes the body do all kinds of crazy shit like close blood vessels, increase heart rate and it massively affects breathing. You can go into a panicked state and do involuntary gasps for air, it only takes half a pint of sea water to enter the lungs to start drowning. Do not f*ck around, be prepared, make sure you check the sea temperature and your gear before cold water sessions. For full knowledge go to the RNLI website.
But right now read on for some well seasoned staying warm advice.
Like any other exercise you need to ensure you have on-boarded the right fuel so that you have the energy to burn off when you go into battle. For the Surfer that’s still sexy but maybe not as young as they once were, a bag of Monster Munch and a Redbull before you get in isn’t going to cut it anymore…trust us.
A hearty hot breakfast a couple of hours before getting in will set you up. Not to get all cookery show presenter but why not dust off the slow cooker? Stick some jumbo oats and some milk in it the night before (or water/soya milk if you’re avoiding that sort of thing), go to bed, wake up and boyah!! – the best funking porridge you’ve ever had! Why not get all fancy and stick some bananas or some berries in there before you serve, geddon you may as well, your a frigging chef now right?! Again, don’t stick a whole Tobelerone in there… trust us.
TURN YOUR CAR INTO AN OVEN
Turn the car heaters up! Yes we know, this doesn’t sound very environmentally cool but you’re the one that’s driving to the beach, and in any case car heaters usually use the residual heat from the engine, so not using a vast amount of additional fuel. If you’re using the air conditioning to heat the car up then yes, you are definitely going to need to apologise to Greta personally, so just use the heaters. Get yourself and the car as hot as you can take, it will be worth it for the next one.
GET CHANGED IN THE CAR
Now heating the car up stuff makes sense yeah?! But don’t leave the engine running whilst you’re getting changed you monster!
There’s a dark art to putting a wetsuit on in the car, but it’s not rocket science, just a bit awkward. This is the kind of awkward fumbling you do in back seats these days.
Watch out for handbrake, gear stick and seat belt buckle. Unless you’re into that sort of stuff (we no judge), a rather aggressive wrong move could end in shock or worse.
And if you’re travelling with others just remember that they’re just willies, twinkles and boobs, 50% of the population have the other, what makes yours/theirs so special? Just concentrate on stuffing your own junk into the neoprene yeah!?.
DO A WARM UP
We don’t mean do a wee in your suit (…although), we are referring to getting your heart rate and body temperature up before you get in the sea. In most cases you don’t park your car right on the shoreline so jog to the sea as opposed to walking and before you get in do some press ups, stretches and pop-up practices. F*ck it, do some star jumps and burpees, you might get laughed at a little but who’s warm and toastie, yeah you!
This will help to get the blood-flow circulating, just standing, shivering and looking out to the horizon whilst regretting your life choices doesn’t cut it. Ease the transition, a sudden change from core temperature to colder temperatures can cause thermal stress on the body which is a real dick, so start hot.
It’s very easy to give in to your instincts whilst waiting for a set. We’ve all done it; sitting on the board and embracing yourself tightly and trying to keep your hands out of the water, but it pays dividends to keep moving even just at a steady pace. Paddle paddle paddle, set yourself in the mix but keep moving around, set off slowly early for a wave and then when you’re in position it will also be easier to take off.
On slower days in the winter a good tip is to take a tennis ball in with you and throw it around with friends between sets, this encourages movement within the group. And if you’re out alone, perhaps it can encourage some interaction with others. Try not to hit anyone in the face though, make sure they are happy to play, don’t get chinned by sense of humour-lacking bigger girls and boys.
RIDE A BIG FAT ONE (ooer)
It’s a bit of a catch 22 as the waves in the UK are usually better in the colder months so you’ll likely want a bit more of a performance board if the surf is good. However, a board with a bit more volume will ensure you catch more waves. In any case it’s likely you won’t stay in the sea as long as you would in, let’s say June through to early December so if you are just looking to ride as many waves as you can, ride a big fat one.
WAX YOUR LIPS (we’re not even trying subtlety now)
You’ve spent time waxing your board but don’t forget that spending a lot of time in cold sea temperatures can be a nightmare on exposed skin. So make sure you use plenty of moisturiser and vas up those lips! You can even do a load of Dad Jokes which everyone will find hilarious. Everyone!
THE MYTH OF PISS
We’re not going to argue the toss on this one too much. Look, if you need to piss whilst you’re in your wetsuit splashing around in the sea, just go. Holding onto it is potentially more damaging for you (particularly at our age), with the risk of a bladder or urinary tract infection.
Unless you’ve consumed a skinful of rather potent spirits the night before or you have some form of mutant wee wee, it’s unlikely your tinkle will damage the modern wetsuit that you have spent your hard earned money on. However, if you do piss, make sure you give it a good wash out with fresh water after because if you don’t you could get a nappy rash (same science).
However, also bear in mind that although on a cold day it feels awesome for a few seconds it can also be counter-productive. The warmth of your wee wee can trick your body into thinking that it’s in warmer climates. So if you get flushed and cold water gets in, your body isn’t prepared, so you will need to paddle harder to get warmer, using up extra energy.
SOMETHING THAT SUMMARISES THIS WHOLE THING
The swell is better in the winter, it’s unusual for the summer to be as good so despite the sea temperature, you’re going to need to suck it up buttercup. Make sure you do it safely and don’t die. Hopefully these tips and processes will help.
Stay warm out there AS Squadron.