Crossing the Tasman

I have often written about how much of a sub-topical, warm water lover I am. About how last year I bought my first ever steamer (a 3/2), which I only needed to wear a handful of times. About how I have rarely had call to venture, let alone surf, further south than Sydney. This was never about gloating, this was about being honest about how and where I surf. This was done so I could be judged accordingly. But things are about to change, friends. Things are about to get frosty.

Because I am moving to New Zealand.

I am moving to a place of cold water, black sand, short-board dominated, lefts. I am moving to a place where the sun sets into the sea! I am moving to a place where a short-legged spring suit is not going to get me through the winter. Dang, where a 3/2 isn't going to get me through the winter!

But in a way I'm kind of stoked because it's a good test. I know lots of people who have given up surfing when they have moved to colder climates. Really! And while that is fair enough, I don't want to be that person. So I'm taking it as a personal challenge to get out of bed and get into the water even thought nothing about that sounds reasonable, rational or sensible. But I really do love catching waves, so I will.

And so I was inspired by Toddy's post over on The Endless Bummer the other day about surfing in winter.
You easily psych yourself up to surf. You've got your six mil winter suit with those five mil gloves and those seven mil booties, you're practically praying for snow. The romantic ideal of being that guy just propels you into full on frigid surf froth. Especially when you're heading out from your cozy home in your cozy car, your suit quickly becoming a sweaty hot box as you hustle to the water's edge.
It's the water's edge that kills you.
You look out, feeling the proximity of that churning, ice-cream headache, face-stinging paddle and realize you've made a terrible miscalculation. But you blunder on, the pure shame forcing you forth into the nettle-like abyss of sub-40˚ water. After the sputtering lobster claw flailing torture, you heap yourself upon your board just that side of the lineup as that second ring of cold water hell focuses uncomfortably into view.
Or, I should say, out of it. This moment you realize just how hobbled you are in that coffin-like hood, peripheral vision blacked out completely. This is when you realize just how important hearing is to your whole wave catching mojo.
These foundational, guttural limitations dawn on you in such nauseating succession, you're sure you'll paddle in after your first take over the falls. It's all too much.Then a wave chooses you, dropping you in, and that bizarre, one of a kind insta-joy relief sets in.
You breathe, laugh a little. You were right all along.
Until you gotta get outta that suit. 
Winter in NY means even more  rubber and enthusiasm for surfing than it will mean for me in NZ. I mean a 6 mil wetsuit is just beyond my comprehension and there is no snow to the place I am headed. But Toddy's stoke gives me comfort and even something to look forward to in my own cold water sessions.

Video via The Endless Bummer as well:


  1. Hey Bec, that surf passion of yours will warm you in the coldest water! Would love to live and surf in NZ, you won't know yourself after getting away from the North Coast circus for a good while! :-)

  2. Wow big changes!

    As someone who's only surfed without a wetsuit once in the last three years, let me reassure you that when the surf's good, you don't notice the cold. Honestly.

    The simple act of going for a surf becomes a lot more complicated when you need to make sure you've got all your kit with you (forgetting a glove can mean no surfing), and getting changed in the carpark is a lot less fun, but somehow the effort involved can make it seem more worthwhile. As a longboarder you can learn to perfect the dry head session too!

    As a woman I find wearing the full winter 5/4 hood boots gloves can be quite liberating too. With everyone, man or woman, dressed exactly the same it takes away any pressure to look good and allows you to be judged purely on your surfing. Looking forward to hearing about how you find that!

    Good luck with the move! x

  3. This made me smile. That 3/2mm is a hardship. But everything is relative and squeezing in and out of neoprene can dampen the spirits.I'm from the same frigid waters as Rebecca and I have a lot of Aussie friends that come over in the summer and they just can't comprehend how people can muster so much enthusiasm for surfing in 5mm of neoprene. At least half say they wouldn't bother.

  4. I'm happy for you but I'm kind of sad!
    When I'm in the water I often think: "who knows if that girl surfing there is Rebecca.. or that one, or that one.."
    Now my mental pastime won't work anymore! :(

  5. Thanks for all your comments! I'm secretly stoked to be entering the world of surfing in a place where it actually gets cold. Everyone keeps getting excited that I can go skiing, but really, I just want to see if I can manage to keep surfing despite having to wear rubber. I might need your continued support - I'll post if I'm struggling!

    And F, that is such a lovely comment - you absolutely made my day! But know I'll be back often enough, so there's still a chance it will be me.

  6. Ahah!
    yes, that's so kind of you.. so now I should go something like: "who knows if Rebecca is in Australia; and if she is, if she's surfing now, and if she's surfing in Byron or somewhere else (she's visiting so she may not go anywhere else), and if that girl could be her!"
    I appreciate your effort, but you just ruined my past time!! :)


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