It’s starting to look like winters weather is finally arriving here at our local spot, Lancing, with rain, overcast conditions, dropping air and sea temperatures… however this brings one main positive… cold dense air blowing across our favourite beach.
I’ve heard kitesurfers, SUP and windsurfers proclaiming that winter is their favourite season, but is it really the best time to go out and have a kite session? Until a few years ago I would have said no!!!! I was a staunch fair weather kiter, never dipping my toes into the English Channel unless the sun was shining, the wind blowing from the west and I could finish my post kite with a fruit smoothie at The Perch Cafe wearing board shorts, flip flops and t shirt, But now I know that winter kitesurfing isn’t all about pulling on your damp, cold wetsuit in a rain lashed car park, enduring brain freeze with numb fingers and toes, I’ve realised that it is really positively rewarding… Knowing that you have braved the cold and had an epic session with only a handful of your mates, whilst the fair weather kitesurfers hunker down at home, gives you a feeling of shared accomplishment and a new level of stoke that you can’t get from a warm summer session, added to this, the look you get from people out walking their dogs all wrapped up in their winter warmers as you stride past across Lancing beach green back to the car park carrying your kites, dripping wet with the biggest smile is simply priceless…..
So where’s the drawback?…………….. Post kite getting changed! The one thing I can assure you is that it’s not pleasant, in fact it’s really cold. However, contorting out of you neck entry winter wetsuit, swearing that you will buy an easy entry back zip model next year, fighting with your thick neoprene boots, that appear to have vacuum sealed themselves to your feet, is all part of the winter experience. If you want to make it better, try a few of the tips below:
Get yourself a Beanie... https://36knots.com ..... Anyone can be Cold, Wet and Miserable.. keep the heat in and be Warm, Wet and Happy :)
Don’t FAFF about…. This is probably the main ingredient need to ruin your kite session, when you get to the beach and decide to kite, do it.. Don’t spend your time either pre or post session doing a lot of things that are not important instead of the things that you should be doing. Turn up already wet suited up, wear a warm dry jacket / wind cheater over your wetsuit whilst pumping up you kite.
Post session, don’t hang around on the beach chatting like you do in the summer, land your kite, wind up your lines still attached to the bridle, quickly check your kite buddys and those still on the water are ok, grab you board and get back to your vehicle, get changed and warm, then sort your kit out.
Take the plunge and get yourself that toasty 5mm semidry wet suit or maybe one of the new surf specific drysuits? Don’t forget the extremities… warm head, hands and toes are a must, by getting the best hood, gloves and boots will ensure you enjoy every session.
Get waterproof seat covers and get changed at home in a nice warm shower.
Take a thermos of your chosen hot beverage and totally blast those car heaters.
Buy a campervan, pop up the roof for more space, put on the kettle, stick the Beach Boys CD on and take the mickey out of your friends getting changed behind their car in the wind and rain exposing themselfs to the passing motorists on the A259.
Winter Kitesurfing is 50% attitude, 50% gear, Try it you will love it. Less crowds, Interesting and challenging wind conditions, better waves and that smug feeling of satisfaction from challenging yourself, be persistent, have the right equipment to keep warm both on and off the water and imagine how far advanced your kite skills will be when your winter hibernating mates return to the beach in the spring.
Keep the stoke, stay safe, always kite with a buddy, make sure that everyone has landed their kites before you leave the car park and see you down the beach this winter.