Since I started kiteboarding 6 years ago, this was the first winter I haven’t been able to escape the cold. Not even for a week.
What started with “oh come on this isn’t going to be so bad!” turned into “Holy S**t, this is really bad!”. But in the end it was quite a good experience for me and over time I figured out a pretty good strategy to get the most out of your winter sessions…
Everyone goes out on the water in the wintertime once in a while. Usually just before you leave the country to really make sure that it’s time to leave. This was also my usual approach to sessions in the wintertime, but this year it was different. I had no escape plan that ensured me some good, warm weather, so I had to turn my winter sessions into really good sessions.
Within this time, I figured out a 5-point battle strategy that helped me to maximize my fun on the water, even when the thermometer says ‘Don’t go out, this is going to suck!’
Pick the right days
During the season the usual procedure for me looks like this: Check if it’s windy. Drive to the beach if it’s windy, or could become windy. Go out on the water, no matter if it’s too light or too gusty.
But in the wintertime it doesn’t work like this. What can be classified as an alright session in the summer, will be one of your worst days ever in the winter. If you go out in temperatures below 0°C you definitely want all the other factors to be perfect. So be picky when it comes to planning your sessions. Check the forecast carefully and choose the best spot, not the closest one!
Warm up properly
Before you go out and start battling the elements, make sure that your body is ready. Warm up all your joints and stretch your ligaments to prevent injuries. The cold temperatures take a lot of energy out of your body, so you better be ready. Hard landings and weird twists lead to injuries a lot faster when the body is cold. It is also advisable to keep the time in a wetsuit as short as possible. So set up your gear before changing.
Go for several shorter sessions instead of one long one. You get tired a lot quicker in cold temperatures, and that leads to a lack of concentration, which leads to injuries. So go for quick and intensive sessions and give your body some rest every 30 minutes. This is also beneficial for your blood circulation and will help your feet and hands to stay warm.
Lower your expectations
Change your ambitions when you get on the water. You simply can’t ride the same in the winter. Don’t be too experimental. Just try to practise your basics and keep your level. Focus on the fun. Your time on the water is precious, so make it count and look forward to the better part of the season. Use the wintertime to fuel your fire, train your body and mind and refill your energy tanks for the summer.
Beer, beer, beer.
When the body is cold from the outside, make sure to keep it warm from the inside. A couple of beers after the session will help you get warm again. Tried and tested.