The great thing about SUP is that you can do it all year round. It’s not just a summer watersport. Infact winter can produce some of the best SUPing conditions… great surf, calm crisp mornings, and full rivers for the experienced white water paddler. But the chillier conditions in and out of the water can sometimes make it hard to stay motivated. It takes a bit more effort to step out of a warm house onto a chilly board mid winter. So how do you ensure it’s an enjoyable experience paddling during the winter months? Here are some top tips from some seasoned paddlers who have all had their fair share of frozen feet and fingers!…
Find the right clothing
”Paddle boarding in the cold European winter is probably the hardest thing to find clothing for and finding motivation to get out there is sometimes even harder. Every paddle boarder who paddles year round knows the struggles of finding clothing which is suited for any winter condition but it’s difficult to get the right balance of function and warmth.” (Peter Kosinski)
Wetsuits are out if you are thinking about racing in the winter. Wearing a wetsuit and racing when it’s frosty leads to over heating straight away. Wetsuits aren’t breathable, very restrictive and horrible to get in during the winter months. I found wearing compression leggings and a thermal long sleeved top the best winter racing attire. Adding a hat when it was really cold. (Peter Kosinski)
Wetsuit jackets are great as it doesn’t matter if they get wet (Will Rogers)
Neoprene beanies, balaclavas, and palm less mits are all good winter accessories but it all depends on the type of paddling you plan to do. You might just get too hot! (Lucy Ellis)
Think about your feet
“My father (who was ex army) told me repeatedly when I was a kid to look after your feet and your feet will look after you. That message holds true for SUP. Even if you skimp on clothing, invest in a good pair of winter booties. Cold extremities can turn even the nicest paddle into a painful chore.” (Bryce Dyer)
Invest into the best booties you can. I have 6mm O’Neill Heat booties which leave my toes nice and toasty during long hours spent in cold water. (Peter Kosinski)
Stay high and dry!
Aim NOT to get your feet wet if you can avoid it. A thicker board with a pair of seal skin socks is always a winner! (Will Rogers)
Set a structure and goal
Despite it being winter, making sure your session has a structure and goal is great way to stay focused. It’s too easy when the weather is cold and wet to cut things short or just to skip things entirely. Try to have an idea of what skills you are practising or what intensity to intend to work at and use that as a guide to getting the job done – day after day, week after week….. until the sun returns. There is an old saying in sport that ‘trophies are won in winter and collected in summer’ so the hard work you do now will pay off later. (Bryce Dyer)
Keep it fun
Getting the motivation for winter paddling is sometimes difficult but I always keep my sessions as fun as possible. (Peter Kosinski)
Going with mates and planning to stop for a rewarding hot chocolate at the mid point cafe is always a good motivator! (Lucy Ellis)
Find an event or race
Even if its in another sport. Most events normally end by October and don’t really get going again for another 6 months. Finding a winter series event somewhere can break up this long wait, give you a means of checking how your training is going and keep you sane. (Bryce Dyer)
Get a changing mat
Stand on something to keep your feet warm when getting changed. A foam mat or even better a piece of foiled backed insulation is a great way to warm your feet and subsequently the rest of your body before and after a SUP session. You’ll be amazed how quickly the warmth spreads through your body! (Reuben Ellis)
Take a dry bag with extra clothes if you plan to not wear a wetsuit/dry suit. You might not be planning to fall in but you never know! And it’s always better to be safe than sorry! (Will Rogers)
Have a hot drink ready in a flask for when you get off the water. Trying to make a cup of tea with numb hands is never easy! (Lucy Ellis)
Have more than one wetsuit!
There’s nothing worse than having to put on a wet wetsuit in winter! And it’s a sure way to put you off winter paddling for life! You can never have too many wetsuits! (Reuben Ellis)
Get changed somewhere warm if you can. Starting your session cold is never enjoyable. Driving to and from the beach in your wetsuit then jumping in a hot shower is always a winner! (Aaron Rowe)
Find some winter sun!
Last but not least… go on a short winter break and find some winter sun! The Canary Islands have warm water, good waves and it’s super cheap.” (Peter Kosinski)
Contributors – Peter Kosinski, Aaron Rowe, Bryce Dyer, The SUPboarder Team
So now you’ve no excuse not to keep paddling all year round. It will be summer again before you know it! Happy paddling!