Surfing with Debra Rose


Why Surf Winter Waves?

Debra Rose

Surfing is not just a summer sport, but you already knew that if you are in Montauk reading this. Winter surfing means driving to the beach with boards on the car, wetsuit on in preparation for going in or racing to get home après surf session. It may seem torturous, but there are logical reasons to keep surfing on the east coast all winter, even when your friends have given up in search of warmer waters until Memorial Day.

Winter surf trips around the world are not only worthwhile, they are crucial to your surfing progression. While you are here though, stepping on snow covered sand and wondering why you’re doing this, it may motivate you to keep the benefits in mind.

The endless 1950’s style California beach scene associated with surfing is a sharp contrast to winter waves in Montauk. We also know summer ushers in crowds, flat days and too many beginners (sorry). So what’s so fun about gray skies, icy mornings and brain freeze when you go under too many times? Days are also so short you have to wait until it warms up to get going, while surfing at a 4pm sunset can feel downright depressing. What’s a surfer to do?

Put it in ski terms. If you ski, you bundle up, play in the snow for a few hours and reward yourself with a snack and cocktail to toast the mountain by late afternoon. We don’t have strict rituals like this for surfing since conditions and timing are unpredictable. Our mountain is always moving. That doesn’t mean we can’t play in the ocean for a little while and celebrate after (and after a hot shower). It is easier to remove ski gear than a 5/4 wetsuit when your hands are numb, but the accomplishment of winter surfing may be much more rewarding.

Take advantage of the consistent winter groundswells and improve your surfing. Use the open line up to develop tricks and strategies for paddling into and out of waves, when it’s colder and tougher in thicker gear. Consider it the best gym for increasing your strength, power and flexibility. One surfer almost gave up, frustrated by the process of putting on all the gear, feeling constricted by the gloves and claustrophobic from the hood and ear plugs. And then it got easier. Be inspired when stability, mobility and fitness win over the challenges of winter wetsuit stressors.

Think of your wetsuit like armor and your surf break the play ground to practice new maneuvers that will feel easy when the gear comes off in the warmer months. One surfer we know uses winter to practice duck diving and nose riding to get stronger and better by summer. Stick with it and you will be one of the strongest, fastest paddlers in the line-up.

So you consider yourself a surfer? Show off pictures of yourself on a wave on your phone and even lock screen for all to see?

If surfing is a religion, winter waves are your pilgrimage. Anyone can paddle out on a clean, warm, sunny day. Can you get out of bed to catch a few icy waves and a handful of moments going under?

Unless you are skiing, going for outdoor runs and hikes or generally outside a lot in the winter, your sun exposure plummets. Surfers often report feeling happier not just because of year-round surfing, the social aspect of roughing it out there together and more time spent in the ocean and not indoors makes for healthier, more joyful people. Keep surfing waves this winter, and be sure to plan your warm water surf trip before summer!