The deepest depths of winter, pretty much my favourite time of year. Nothing beats short days and long stormy dark nights. Fleeting hours on heavy reefs and in sheltered bays. Swells powerful enough to get the blood pumping without leaving our fair isles. Swells consistent enough that we get days of surf not hours. Winter is the best time to be a surfer in the UK and Ireland, making us all cold water surfers.
So with this in mind this issue is about the cold, no point in hiding the fact with lovely tropical escapes, most of us won’t see them this winter. In fact the majority of us will be struggling into wetsuits right through the depths of winter and loving it. There is nothing quite as character building as trying to wrestle your way into a suit in the front seat of a VW Golf, fumbling with keys when your hands are a solid block of ice or huddling over a slowly warming car air vent. Surfers in warmer clmates don’t get this, and they’re missing out. So for some inspirations we’ve lined up features to inspire, whether it is to stay here and embrace the cold or in the case of the surf camp guide, plan an escape after the long winter, as a reward, a couple of weeks of restbite before another winter sets in.
Jason Feast, a photographer who lives and breathes year round cold surf in Cornwall has a documentation of a swell up and down the Cornish coast with three of the UK’s finest surfers Alan Stokes, Reubyn Ash and Jobe Harriss. Irish photographer Christian Mcleod got to go on the rarest of missions, a cold water boat trip. Personaly despite loving to sail, I hate boat trips, and the thought of doing one in freezing conditions doesn’t thrill me. Chasing swell and dodging storms though does, and that is exactly what Christian and the Benthik crew got up to on the North West frontier of The British Isles.
Meanwhile, Mark Boyd, Thurso resident, Scottish surfing stalwart went the other way. He gives us a brief look at the classic round the world trip we’d all love to do to avoid the winter. Being from the frigid coastline of Caithness and spending most of his working life on survey ships in The Atlantic, we’ll gibe him this one. Whilst Mark does that I went the other way, Norway to be exact, with the crew from Finisterre, a frontierre at the cold end of the world. We found waves, but more than anything we got to soak up one of the most spectacular coastlines on Earth in a good adventure. There is nothing quite like getting out into the wilds with just a tent and some friends and getting a few waves.
Finally I went on a trip, where, well it doesn’t really matter, with some surfers who are the antithesis of cold water surfing. Guys who live in it day to day, guys who just enjoy the solitude and people like me who enjoy just sleeping rough and scoring some waves no matter what the temperature is.
The latest issue in on sale now in print and also available to download from the App Store