Blog 3: Winter Paddling!

Winter is Coming! - How to enjoy Paddling in the Winter.

Taking your VAST iSUP out in the summer is the dream; warm blue skies, board shorts and rash vest, warmer UK waters. Idyllic! But, how to prepare for the cold, dark and gloomy grey of the winter arena? Its not as difficult as you may think and can lead to some amazing adventures to beautiful areas, as long as you are educated in winter paddling and plan for safety. For the sake of this blog, we'll assume that you are one of the brave, hardy souls that will take their boards out in to UK waters this winter, and not hop on a plane to paradise island. The real secret to winter paddling, and I dont mind sharing this with you, is to be properly prepared:


1. Before you enter the water

iSUP Gear

In summer, it is really good practise to get all of your iSUP GEAR out before you leave the house to check it over and ensure that its in the perfect condition you want it to be. However, in winter, this step is essential. Inflate your board and ensure that its holding its pressure, make sure your Leash and Mobile Phone Safety Case are still in your package and useable, and please ensure you use it with your Mobile Phone in case you get in to a tricky situaion, finally, check your Bouyancy Aid over and ensure there is no damage to the foam construction and in full, normal working order. (https://www.vastboardsports.com/accessories)

Weather

Once you have your prefect gear setup, next key point is to plan around the WEATHER. This is something that we cannot emphasise its importance enough. Summer is more forgiving in that your main concern is checking tides and winds, in winter, everything can become more dangerous, so really take some time to understand what conditions you can and cant enter the water in. Research and understand the difference in wind direction, wind temperature, water temperature etc. If you are unsure, do not paddle without seeking advice. RNLI is a fantastic place to start and offer some superb instructional videos and courses on Paddleboard safety.

Clothing

What are you going to wear? No, were not really that concerned with your fashion choices, what we are concerned with is ensuring that you have the correct CLOTHING for the conditions. Warmth is your friend when your drop in to the cold winter waters and this can be achieved through many different routes, but main points will be Bouyancy Aids, layers, including a thermal base layer, Thick winter wet boots, a warm wooly hat and a Dry Suit can make all the difference.

Then, once you are out of the water, you are not going to dry off naturally like you will after your summer adventures, you will need a good quality Change Robe (https://www.vastboardsports.com/robes-1) and some dry clothes to put on.


2. Fun in the Water

Company

Whenever you paddle in the Winter, we cannot recommend enough that you DO NOT PADDLE SOLO! Always take atleast one friend with you. Simple things in summer, like falling in and getting back on your board, can be a lot tougher in the water with the much colder water temperatures. In winter, its good practise when falling in, to take a little time to get on to your back and starfish float, allow your body to deal with the cold water shock and then prioritise getting back on your board. Hypothermia is a real concern with winer paddling, but panicking as you hit the water can be just as lethal. Your Paddle partner can help you back on to the board.

Top tip in prepping for winter paddling is to practise your water escapes in the milder months of summer. Have a 10 minute warm up before paddling in summer, working on ensuring that you can starfish to float and then practise getting back on to your board.

Finally, facebook can be a real friend in this circumstance. There are now hundreds of UK based iSUP groups, some which are national and some that are more local groups, where you can always find helpful people who will paddle with you.

Fatigue

As your paddling session moves along, aim to understand your body and your capabilities. This is where you may need to throw your plans out of the window. Do not get caught out in the water when you are tired. If you can feel yourself getting a little stiffer and fatigued, head back to dry land.





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