Both as an experienced pro and as an eager beginner, it’s important that when you’re out on the water you’re wearing the right clothing. However, although we love seeing an outfit of sartorial excellence as much as the next person, this isn’t why we advise you to think about what you’re wearing before you go for a ride. Rather, wearing the correct clothing whilst windsurfing or pursuing any water sport is about safety, efficacy and integrity.
If you’re not wearing protective gear, you could be badly hurt by the rough sea, the cold air or even your own equipment. You could also slow yourself down or find yourself in the frustrating position of having to hold back due to poor planning and being underprepared for the conditions. In competitive situations, you might find yourself in a position of unfair advantage or disadvantage depending on what you’re wearing.
Even when you’re back at the van or waiting on the beach, you need to be wearing the correct clothing to keep you warm and dry. We all know how easy it is to fall down a wormhole on 9gag, get caught up in the enjoyment of playing online slots, or lose yourself to the endless scroll of social media. If and when this happens to you whilst you’re out and about on the sand, just make sure you’ve got the appropriate outfit on.
For all these reasons and more, it is essential that you invest in the correct kit to wear when you’re out chasing waves. Luckily, we’ve put together something of a handy guide for reassessing your water sports wardrobe.
First things first, you’re going to need a decent wetsuit. Wetsuits are designed to protect your body from the elements, ensuring that your core temperature doesn’t drop too low when you’re out amongst the crashing ocean waves, and freeing your limbs and extremities up to battle with the wind. They also act as something of a buoyancy aid, helping you to stay afloat when you inevitably end up in the water, and they make your body more streamlined, which is good news whether your swimming through the sea or surfing through the air.
If you feel too restricted or even too warm in a full body wetsuit, there are plenty of alternative options with short sleeves, shorts rather than full leggings, and even high leg designs that leave your lower body free to move unheeded. Trusted brands such as O’Neill, Rip Curl, Roxy, Olaian, Xcel and Vissla offer a wide range of tried and tested suits that work for all ages and body types, ranging from summer sleeveless shortys all the way through to full coverage winter suits.
Once you have your wetsuit sorted, you’ll want to start thinking about accessories. These aren’t just pricey add-ons designed to make you look cool; items like boots, gloves, hoods and rash vests can help to make your windsurfing experience more comfortable and more enjoyable. If you plan to be surfing in very cold temperatures, then a hood, gloves and booties are a must. Wetsuit hoods do much the same as the wetsuit itself, keeping your head (and therefore your brain) better insulated from the cold and allowing you to think clearly. Gloves and booties are designed to protect those outer extremities, your fingers and toes, from the cold and the windchill. This means that you’ll be able to maintain a full range of movement even when out on the water for an extended period of time, as you will not lose blood flow to your delicate digits.
Rash vests, or rash guards, are designed to protect your skin from any chafing or soreness brought on by exposure to rough waves, windchill, general cold or hot temperatures and the material of your wetsuit. They are also used to protect skin from over-exposure to the sun’s UVA and UVB rays. Rash vests can be worn underneath wetsuits or instead of them, providing a lighter layer of protection when you’re surfing and when you’re back on the beach.
Whilst a wetsuit keeps you protected from the bulk of what Mother Nature can throw at you, there are times when an extra layer of warmth is called for. This is where windsurfing thermals come in. An additional cosy layer of neoprene or thermal material worn under your wetsuit can make all the difference between a cold, wet, miserable couple of hours and a full day’s comfortable surfing. It’s best to go for a recognised brand, like the ones mentioned earlier in this article, to ensure a superior fit and quality of product.
So, you’re all sorted with what to wear whilst you’re out catching waves, but what about all the hanging around both before and after a surfing session? Beaches can get pretty chilly, especially when there’s enough of a breeze around to make windsurfing worth it. We advise investing in some good quality thermals to put on when you’re spending prolonged periods of time out of the water. This can range from big warm fleeces to wear over your clothes through to thin baselayers that act as a thermal layer next to your skin, keeping your body heat in and the windchill out.