Surfers are facing colder water and harsher winter conditions than usual in popular cold-water destinations, including Scotland, Iceland, Norway, Alaska and Canada, which are known for their rugged coastlines and powerful waves. Despite the challenges, including heavy gear, the risk of hypothermia and a lower ability to maintain energy whilst in cold water for extended periods, the biggest and most powerful waves arrive during the winter season. Cold water is denser and can better support larger waves than warm water. As storms generate energy over long distances, they can also create predictable, powerful waves that are perfect for surfing.
Surfers Brave Unusually Cold Water Temperatures to Ride Massive Waves in Northern Hemisphere
Every winter, surfers in the northern hemisphere flock to cold-water destinations in search of massive waves. This year, however, the cold-water temperatures have been especially brutal, with some areas experiencing their coldest winter in decades. Despite the bone-chilling temperatures, surfers are still braving the water to ride some of the biggest waves of the year.
The Cold-Water Destinations
Some of the most popular cold-water destinations for surfers in the northern hemisphere include:
These areas are known for their rugged coastlines and powerful waves, which make them popular with surfers from around the world. However, this year’s colder-than-normal temperatures have made surfing in these areas even more challenging.
The Challenges of Cold-Water Surfing
Surfing in cold water comes with its own unique set of challenges. In addition to the obvious discomfort of being in freezing water, surfers must also contend with:
- Heavy wetsuits and boots, which can restrict movement and make it difficult to paddle
- The risk of hypothermia, which can set in quickly in extremely cold water
- The difficulty of staying warm and maintaining energy during long sessions in the water
Despite these challenges, cold-water surfing also comes with its own rewards. Surfers who brave the cold water are often rewarded with some of the biggest and most powerful waves of the year. For many surfers, the thrill of riding these waves is worth enduring the discomfort.
The Science of Cold-Water Surfing
So why do surfers brave such cold water in the first place? According to science, colder water can actually lead to better waves. This is because cold water is denser than warm water, which means it can support bigger waves without them breaking too early.
In addition, colder water is often associated with stormier weather, which can create the kinds of swells that surfers crave. When storms generate energy over long distances, it can lead to the creation of powerful, predictable waves that are perfect for surfing.
Q: Can’t surfers just wait for warmer water?
A: While many surfers do prefer warmer water, the biggest waves of the year often come during the winter months when water temperatures are at their coldest. Waiting for warmer water could mean missing out on some of the best surf of the year.
Q: How do surfers stay warm in cold water?
A: Most surfers wear wetsuits, which are designed to trap a thin layer of water between the suit and their skin. This layer of water is then warmed by the body’s heat, creating a barrier against the cold. Many surfers also wear hoods, boots, and gloves to keep their extremities warm.
Q: Is cold-water surfing dangerous?
A: Cold-water surfing can be dangerous, especially for inexperienced surfers. The risk of hypothermia and other cold-related injuries is higher in cold water, and the powerful waves can be challenging even for experienced surfers. Surfers should always take precautions, such as wearing appropriate gear and surfing with a buddy.
Q: What’s the appeal of cold-water surfing?
A: For many surfers, the appeal of cold-water surfing lies in the challenge. The cold water and heavy gear can make surfing more difficult, but also more rewarding. In addition, the biggest and most powerful waves of the year often come during the winter months, giving surfers the chance to ride waves that they might not be able to find at any other time.
Q: What’s the future of cold-water surfing?
A: As climate change continues to warm the planet, it’s possible that cold-water surfing could become less common. However, for now, many surfers are embracing the challenge of cold-water surfing and continuing to seek out some of the biggest waves of the year.