Surfing, a sport with a fine pedigree in platitude and cliché, reserves some of its very finest for the boardshort surfing experience.
That not just surfing, but in fact life itself is better in them. That the highest accolade for wetsuit technology is that it feels just like surfing in them. That surfing isn’t really surfing unless your entire epidermis is bathed in the cosmic salts and solutes of the primeval soup, petrochem barrier free.
Aside from being both generally grating and broadly true, the particularly cruel part of surfing’s tired old trunk tropes is their geographical bias – they feel like they’re essentially excluding anyone surfing below the 18 degree C isotherm, which probably includes you.
“With seawater warmest in late Aug/September, now really is the time to trunk Britain”
So surfing in boardshorts seems to have all the answers. But are you occasionally left with questions?
Like, how come Hawaiians – who should be tropic spoiled softies – like Seabass and John John can trunk their heats Peniche in the year’s penultimate CT event in late October, where the water is maybe 18 degrees C, very similar to summer in Kernow?
How come evergreen Mark Vaughan, Duke Slater of Welsh surfing has been in boardshorts for months in frigid, hostile waters of the Celtic Sea?
How come, when I paddle out on 30 degree air, 25 degree water days in SW France, when tropic wax is melting and the sand so hot it scolds the soles of your feet, there’re crew in steamers, even… booties?!?
How come otherwise ok-ish people, like WL’s own Luke Gartside, have allowed themselves to become radicalised into a hate fuelled, bigoted anti-trunk doctrine, responding, when I suggested the subject of this article “I don’t see the appeal really” (!?!?!) “get a chest rash”
(I could go on, but some of the material was too shocking even for a publication this real).
It’s a mad, mad world alright.
While the traditional boardshort surfing grounds in the tropics might be out of your price/carbon footprint range (you’re not Elton Harry, are you?), and with seawater warmest in late Aug/September, now really is the time to trunk Britain.
Or, maybe, you’re headed to SW France this Sept/Oct (car sharing), how can you extend trunk season down there? Perhaps a spot of Canaries is on the cards this winter? How can you get that essential boardies experience, without needing to jet to waters where coral grows?
My own personal trunk perversion came on strong a few years ago with a devout rejection of the shorty, or even worse, it’s evil step sister, the long arm spring. A shorty, in my opinion, is an excellent wetsuit for a 9-year-old child. Beyond that, surely, if you can wear a shorty, you can surf in trunks (and a top).
And while my own trunking season has since developed into a delightful June – Oct season, I’m an unreliable witness, being based down near the Tropic of Capbreton.
So to get some legit core lord temperate trunk advice, I reached out to zillion time Welsh champion, Mark Vaughan.
1. “Carry a little extra weight,” reckons Vaunt, perhaps giving an insight into why you’re more likely to be a trunk lord in your 40’s than your 20’s. “It’ll keep you a little warmer and motivate you to loose it by taking extreme measures that don’t involve painful lifestyle changes such as taking up a gym routine or giving up chocolate. Simply freeze for an hour or so a few times a week and watch the weight fall off! You may even get shacked in the process.”
2. Don’t pack a wetsuit – it removes any last-minute cop-outs.
3. Don’t think about it! From the moment you hit the car park, just don your daks asap without flinching at the prospect. Take in the onlookers shocked faces and comments.
4. Once at the water’s edge, run straight in. Don’t pussy about and ignore the gut wrenching pain of an ice cream ball sack. Yes there is such a thing.
5. Get onto your board paddle and duckdive as soon as you can. Savour the chill and the inevitable burning sensation.
6. Keep busy, catch waves, keep paddling. This is essential in order to keep your body temperature up.
7. You will reach a point where you feel like you can’t take it any more – now comes mind over matter. You may not be able to surf 40ft Jaws, but at all those spoilt neoprene-wearing softies around you… show them how lame they are, embrace your rubber-less freedom.
8. You’ve beaten the cold, thanks to your very own Jedi mind control. But here’s the rub you will start to almost feel warm like its no deal anymore and then suddenly you will notice different body parts starting to seize up. Your knees and hips most notably, as they are left motionless just dangling in the water in between rides. It is now time to exit the water immediately.
9. No sprinting up the beach back to the car, it would be easy to tear a muscle or hammy after your frigid soak. A brisk walk/light jog will do.
10. Have suitable heat generating clothing that’s very easy to put on (no button up jeans). An insulated robe or big jacket that you can throw over yourself is ideal.
Cover photo: Domenic Mosqueira / Red Bull