Wednesday, July 24, 2024

Cold Water Secrets 

with Reese Myerscough

Getting the most out of cold water conditions and staying stoked through the winter season. 

I’m not going to get into the drysuit versus wetsuit argument, just tips and techniques I’ve learned to improve my kiteboarding sessions in the extreme cold water conditions provided by my home on Vancouver Island, Canada.

Boots in or out

The wetsuit leg always goes over the boot. If you wear the boots over the wetsuit leg, the boots will constantly fill up with water and balloon out ultimately resulting in loss of grip as your feet slide around inside the boots. Not only will you recieve mega kook factor for wearing you boots over your suit, but your feet will also be colder due to the constant flushing of cold water into your boots every time your feet submerge.

Gloves

Hand dexterity is key to kiting safely. When I can, I tend not to wear gloves kiting. They hinder finger movement and grip, and your hands are out of the water most of the time anyways. Wearing no gloves is fine until below 8 degrees Celsius when your hands begin to freeze. At that point I wear 3mm 5-finger surfing gloves. Even though they are chunky and hard to grip with, it is much more enjoyable than not being able to feel your hands at all. Gloves often wear out quickly from rubbing on the center line of the bar, to increase your glove’s lifespan, try to use a bar that has PU tube covering the center line to decrease wear.

Dry your suits, boots and gloves the night before

As you probably already know, there is nothing worse than pulling on a cold damp suit, boots, and gloves when it’s freezing. Always dry your suits out the night before riding. Most drysuits and wetsuits will drip dry if hung overnight in a warm garage. Invest in a bootie and glove dryer, it will change your life! Putting on dry boots and gloves is much more welcoming than slipping into a cold, slimy and smelly pair of boots and gloves. The bootie dryer is the best $60 I have ever spent.

Progressing through the cold

There is nothing harder than learning new moves in freezing conditions, so go out with a plan! Frontal winter winds often come and go quickly. If the wind does stick around, one or two hours is the maximum amount of time anyone is willing to put up with the cold before getting worn out. If you plan on progressing your kite skills over the winter months, don’t mess around. Before hitting the water think of one or two tricks you want to work on, memorise them or write them on your board so you don’t forget. As soon as you get out, force yourself to work on the selected moves until you stomp them! Don’t bother with stuff you already know, time is limited.

Don’t let the weather stop you, don’t think twice

Get on the water as fast as you can. The more time you spend analyzing grungy conditions, the less chance there is you will go out. Show up, rig up, and hit the water. Stormy and rainy weather is much more enjoyable than expected.

If the dread of wetsuit chill makes even getting out of the car an issue, then try a drysuit. I wear my drysuit year-round on Vancouver Island and wouldn’t go out half as much without it. On the horrible days, try putting on your drysuit or wetsuit up to the waist before leaving the house. This minimizes the amount of time you spend changing in the cold, and often makes setting up your gear in miserable weather more appealing. The less time you have to spend changing and walking around in the mud the better. Showing up for a cold session pre-dressed often gets me more stoked and motivated to hit the water, where I would otherwise be second guessing my decision.

Foot straps

Make sure you purchase straps that adjust large enough to fit your wetsuit boots. Some footpads have aggressive toe ridges that make them difficult to slide into.

Wax

Soft wax rubs off kiteboards easily due to the large amounts of foot shuffling and sliding that is uncommon in surfing. Laying down a hard tropical base coat of wax on your board before applying cold water wax helps prevent the soft top coat from being pushed towards the rails of the board. When I use wax, I often don’t apply a soft top coat because I find the tropical wax provides just as much grip, and lasts longer before needing to be reapplied. 

Surfer’s ear

A lifetime spent kiting and surfing in cold water conditions will probably lead to surfer’s ear. To prevent ear infections, it’s smart to use a hood, ear plugs, or a helmet in gnarly conditions.

Bright colours

Although it’s extremely hard to find a wetsuit that isn’t black, try and wear something bright so you can be seen if things go sideways in a storm.

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