We’ve said in previous posts the onset of winter doesn’t mean the end of stand up paddling – unless you’re truly fair weather. In fact, it can be the best time for SUP. The fly in the ointment, however, is lack of daylight. 2020 aside, due to its unusual play out, as autumn rolls into winter those long evenings of summer become a distant memory. You may be lucky with kids back at school to score some middle hours session time but mostly it’ll be weekend SUP shenanigans you’ll be confined to. Below are a few tips to nailing it.
Plan ahead (as best you can)
Whilst weather forecasts aren’t 100% accurate more than three days out you can still get an indication of what conditions will be like for your weekend of SUP. Knowing your chosen area and how this info can be interpreted for said location will also help. With this knowledge you should be able to make a loose plan. We say loose because things can often change (see next point).
Prepare to change
This is winter and not least the weather can be volatile. As such it’s best to be in a position where changing plans – and even sacking off your SUP session off altogether – isn’t an issue if everything conspires against you. At the very least have a secondary, back up location in mind. This way you’ll avoid disappointment.
Keeping warm shouldn’t need to be said. But this doesn’t apply to just you in the water. This also applies to your little crew. If you’re a family then keep snuggly blankets close to hand, in tandem with warm winter clothes, to help stave off the chill. If you’re lucky enough to own a surf wagon (van) then deck it out for cosy times so those not in the water will remain comfortable.
Keep fuelled and hydrated
Cold zaps strength and with exercise in the mix you’ll become fatigued and dehydrated much quicker than you think. Fuel up on energy giving foods before your SUP session and make sure you drink plenty of fluid before and after.
Wear the right attire
If you’re going to be in the ocean/lake/river then a decent wetsuit will most likely be your chosen piece of SUP wear. Either that or a high quality drysuit. Don’t scrimp here. Get the best you can afford, and from a reputable brand. Don’t underestimate windchill and the evaporative cooling effect of being in the air once you’re out of the drink either. Hanging about outside in a wet wetty is the quickest way to get hypothermia.
Keep your gear in good working order
After every weekend warrior mission check your SUP gear over and make sure any damage or bits needing replacement are sorted. The worst thing is leaving everything in a messy pile that you have to sift through as you’re about to get wet next time. Chances are, the law of sod being what it is, you’ll find something broken just when the stars seem to be aligning.
Know your limits
Winter generally sees Momma Nature dish up more hardcore conditions than you get in summer. If you’re confronted by a scenario you’re just not comfortable with then sack it off and live to paddle another day. There’ll be other chances of SUP we promise.
Finish off weekly tasks in the week
There’s nothing worse than having lingering tasks hanging over your head. As much as possible get up straight with things like work and household chores in the week so your weekend is free and clear. That way you’ll enjoy your paddling time to the maximum.