As Arya Stark wisely pointed out, winter is always coming and if you’ve recently fallen in love with surfing or are starting to feel like your gills are drying out, having to wait till next summer to surf again is a grim prospect. But hold on, because with the right approach winter time surfing in Cornwall will likely yield the best sessions of your surfing journey.
Winter surfing in Cornwall is all about returning to a quieter, less hurried time. You’ve got space, options, and a slow place that you’d otherwise need a time machine to experience. For a surfer, winter really means the entire time span of Greenwich Mean Time – running roughly from November to April, rather than a strict adherence to the conventional definition of winter. We teach all year-round at Surf Sanctuary and are confident in our ability to provide you with comfortable, enjoyable, beneficial and rather special surf experiences through winter.
The winter months are an excellent time to surf; you get more time, more waves, more space, and there’s a glow to your skin that stays with you the whole day. It’s closer to the frontier feeling you get from hiking mountains or cross-country skiing; it’s a very special feeling that really only a minority of people will experience.
The biggest factor contributing to the slow winter experience are the lack of crowds, both in the water and on land. There are several reasons why people stay away – temperature and darkness being the main ones, but with a little thought these are easily overcome.
We’ve always used C Skins 5mm wetsuits at Surf Sanctuary. C Skins are a local company that export their awesome suits globally and know exactly what is required of a winter suit for UK waters, so consider the 5mm suit that we supply on all of our lessons as the foundation for your toasty surf experience.
Next, comes the boots, gloves and hoods. During British Summer Time, we use fairly conventional boots that you’ll find in most centres. But in winter when the sea is as much as 10 degrees cooler than summer, you need proper thermal protection and comfort. That’s why we use the amazingly warm C Skins WIRED range of boots, gloves and hoods for our winter time surfers. We’re pretty sure you won’t find kit like this handed out elsewhere, it’s way beyond usual ‘school kit’ but it’s what our surf coaches wear – it fits properly, has a wonderful thermal lining, is soft and flexible, and it means your fingers and toes will work when you get out of the sea. Oh, and no ice cream headache on the paddle out either.
You need to start your winter surfing experience the right way and our changing rooms are always warm, dry and clean. If it’s really grim outside we’ll often run the ‘theory’ section inside in the warm so you’re not just cooling down sitting static on a wind blown beach. If you’re warm when you hit the surf, you’ll stay warm – even on the coldest days.
Cornwall has big tides, and some beaches work best at low tide, some at high tide. When it doesn’t get light till 8am and it’s already dark at 4.30pm, it may be too dark to surf when the tide is where you want it to be, and when you combine this with trying to find the best spot for the current conditions it’s all to easy to get ‘skunked’. This is where some good local knowledge and back up options are vital. Within a 5 mile striking distance of Surf Sanctuary there is a selection of beaches that work throughout the tide range and in varying wind conditions; we know them all intimately and on any given day can put you in the best spot.
It’s a misconception that the sea stays warmer than the air as we head into winter. The sea in fact cools and warms in parallel to the average air temperature; but what is happening is that the second half of the year considerably warmer than the first half of the year. So this means that if you are surfing in the run up to Christmas and the New Year you’ll be in water around 10-12 degrees C, whilst in March it will be around 8-10 degrees C. So the very darkest days aren’t actually the coldest!
Booking your lesson
As always, just call us on 07540 155123 or email email@example.com when you have a date in mind and we’ll take it from there. On the day of your lesson you won’t need to make any great preparations; by the time you’ve suited up in the warm changing rooms you’ll be as warm as you’re ever going to be 🙂
Summer time lessons are 2 hours but for winter lessons we’d say allow yourself a little longer in case we have to travel to a different beach. Every day spent surfing in winter feels like a real bonus; a day snatched back from the dark and cold months. It’s a very special feeling so if you’re after a bit of adventure get in touch and let’s go and get some waves!
One to one: £90
Two to one: £120
Three to one: £150
Prices include all equipment.