You know those two really cold days earlier this week? The minus 7 one and the one after? The video below (keep reading, it’s at the end!) contains kitesurfing footage from both of those days. I’m wearing an Ocean Rodeo Soul drysuit and I’d bet that I was as warm then as you are, reading this now. Unless you’re sat on a train platform reading on your mobile device in which case I hope your train turns up soon.
If you’ve never worn a drysuit before, it’s simply like wearing snowboarding outer layers over your thermal layer; or at least that’s how the Soul is. It’s a one piece suit designed to look like jacket and trousers so that you don’t look silly, and that is most important, for our entire Western Civilisation revolves around not wanting to look ridiculous.
The suit itself is totally waterproof; the Soul is built to the same specification as commercial and military diving suits. Cleverly though, it still breathes. So, although I’m toasty warm and building up heat through exertion, all sweat is wicked and evaporated away, meaning that when I stop for a breather, I don’t get cold from the chilled sweat (beware so called neoprene drysuits that are on the market, for they do not breathe). The Soul’s got pockets in it so I can carry around extra GoPro mounts and screwdrivers to fit them, and spare change if I need a cup of tea or a taxi, and I can put a phone in there, and some snacks, and layer up to cope with Arctic temperatures….so you can see it’s more than a suit for getting in the water, it is in fact a piece of survival equipment.
You can fit a Gath Helmet under the fitted hood (which cinches down to fend off hail storms) and fit an impact vest under the suit for extra buoyancy (the Soul has great residual buoyancy since it traps air anyway). With all that, I reckon your chances of surviving a night lost at sea slumped over your kite or washed up in a remote cove just got a whole lot better…
I am offering a guided downwinder service (point to point kitesurfing excursion) to certain clients as part of my Surf Sanctuary teaching operation. Clients have to meet certain criteria, and then I will recommend they wear the Soul during the downwinder for the reasons above. I have the Souls here in my kit locker; unlike wetsuits, a large Soul for example will fit a lot of different body types.
Preparing and executing a downwinder is similar to going for a big hike up a mountain. You need to plan the route, mark out escape routes, pack supplies, arrange contingency plans and communications. Set up a home base. For sure you need to know the weather patterns for that day too. I love all this type of stuff. It mixes elements of the outdoor exploration lifestyle with explosive stuff like surfing and of course kitesurfing.
I’ll talk more about my downwinder guided tours later, but for now, and at long last, here’s the video…