Diff'rent Stokes

As the sea and air has recently snapped into Winter mode everything is different, everything more difficult.

The first surfs when the water hurts your head are a shock. Other surfers have cold faces, red eyes. Being in the water has a completely different feeling: a relation to survival and danger. It's time to keep warm - not try and be brave. My surf before-last with a winter wetsuit and summer boots lasted forty five minutes: a poor surf ending with cramp in my calves, ringing ears and feeling dizzy. Today, with winter boots and a hood/vest combo I was happily in the water for an hour and a half and had a good surf. Keep warm. I was trying to hold out on all the winter gear until January/February but tactics like that are, it seems to me, a mistake. Especially when you've got digits that turn white at the drop of a hat (or a °C) in my case.

And you know what: it's a different stoke! In those balmy summer days it's an easy lazy fun time. Now catching a good wave, especially at the beginning of a session, is an important survival tool! It's a stoke that truly warms, excites like hot embers rushing through your body. I have found that if I let myself get cold, fearful or demoralized at this time of year it's bad news. It's cyclic and anxiety returns with a poor surf.

The winter stoke seems more vital and aggressive; related to: survival, morale, energy, fear. The summer stoke is much more lighthearted and fun. Both hinge on excitement but the winter surfing experience clearly has a dramatic edge.


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