Winter has arrived in the north hemisphere, and as we head into 2019, we all need that extra motivation to get outside and make the most of the off-season. Developers at Paddle Logger have realised this and in the next year they are developing series of personal challenges focused to keep people going through the year. David Walker CEO of Paddle Logger sat down with Ryan Cobb from SUPUrban for his top tips on how to stay motivated during the cold months and using the concept of personal challenges to keep paddling hard!
Hi Ryan, you are a keen winter paddler in the U.K. – what’s it all about?
Being a SUP paddler during the winter is tough, the dark evenings, high wind speeds and never ending rain can make for less than inviting paddling conditions. And then there is the ‘cold, damp wet suit’, don’t even get me started on that one.
The limited hours of light combined with the poor weather really does limit the paddling opportunities to get out on the water and find our happy place, and now is when we need to find that place the most. It can be all too inviting to curl up on the sofa and binge on box sets until such time that you run out of Ben and Jerry’s and cabin fever sets in. But it’s now that we need to paddle the most. It can be so rewarding. We are currently experiencing moderate temperatures of around 10°C, and really low wind speeds. So now is the perfect time to paddle, and I have been out exploring the winter waters throughout December.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
Over the years of paddling my confidence on water has grown where I can plan and paddle independently. Although, my motivation can often be lacking during the darkest and coldest of winter days. So I found that the 2018’s 100 day winter paddle challenge to be extremely motivating. The concept was simple, a group of solo paddlers scattered across the world used tracking apps to log our individual paddled miles over the 100 days. The UK had a strong team of 10 and our contributed group total meant we completed a virtual paddle from London to Gothenburg, that’s a total of 866 miles!
We had a Facebook group (like the soon to be released Paddle Logger Paddle Club) where we all posted screen grabs of our sessions and these were collated in weekly updates. Knowing that there was a group goal, plus others were finding the time and energy to paddle in the winter conditions was enough to get me out on my board at least once a week during the winter. The power of a group vision and goal can be stronger than the magnetic pull of the warm bed. No one wants to appear lazy, especially in public. I’m looking forward to this year’s challenge as the Paddle Logger app will make tracking these winter activities far more simpler. I’m already keeping an eye out for 2019’s winter challenges and sorting my winter kit.
Do you have any top tips for those wanting to make the most of the weather?
There are so many people that are new to Stand Up Paddling that might be think that SUP is only a summer activity, just for chilling on the beach whilst topping up on the vitamin D. However, they couldn’t be more wrong. If only they knew there are many more paddling adventures to have especially during the winter months. I really do believe that winter paddling can provide a different perspective to well known paddle spots, it can also improve your mental well being though winter.
Some of the best adventures can be had through the winter months and with the right preparation you will soon become a paddler who is flicking through the weather, tide, surf forecasts with your board, paddle and Paddle Logger ready to make the most of the those limited ideal condition or thinking ‘where can I launch from that’s sheltered from this wind?’
Using Paddle Logger means that I can share some of my winter experiences. There is something nice about posting up some photos and your route of a winter paddle when you know all your friends haven’t even ventured out the house, I say ‘nice’ I probably mean ‘smug’.
The new free Paddle Logger App means there are even less barriers to getting out there and recording your adventures! How do you paddle comfortably in winter?
Well, you must have heard the saying ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing’? Well it’s just as relevant to paddlers as it is any activity. Your choice of clothing for your paddling can make or break your time on the water as you will need to balance the cold air and water, whist needing to disperse the heat and sweat you are producing as you paddle. Picking the correct clothing for a paddle can be difficult as this will need to depend on the types of activities you’re doing.
You need to choose a wetsuit wisely if you are spending time in the water. Remember a wetsuit only works when you’re wet, it’s in the name. I follow the rule that if I’m going to spend time in the water then a wetsuit is ideal, however, if I’m going for a paddle where it is unlikely that I’ll go for a swim then I’m all about the thermal and quick drying layers. Please don’t get me wrong, there are neoprene based products that are breathable, I just haven’t tried them yet.
During my first winter of paddling I found that joining in with clubs or on social paddles to be a great way of building my confidence and knowledge of paddling in different conditions. For new paddlers the benefits of attending organised events are endless, paddling new locations, meeting more paddlers in your area and learn from those that are more experienced. The greatest benefit is having someone share their knowledge of how they have decided on a particular route in those conditions, which allowed me to develop my confidence with planning adventures myself based on weather and water conditions. From here I started planning my own adventures with small groups of friends and even some solo paddles.
If this is your first winter SUPing or like me, you need to find that motivation to stumble out of your warm bed in the mornings then I urge you to try as many of these tips as you can. But please remember to be safe out on the water by checking the forecasts, know your limits, dress for the conditions and let someone know your paddle plans. The best tip I got for winter paddling from my Paddle Buddy James Roorda, EPIC SUP, “start paddling in the morning as the air temp will only get warmer”. He was absolutely right, if you go for a morning paddle it won’t be getting any colder.
Are there any UK winter events to keep motivation high?
Apart from SUP clubs and places to hire I recommend entering your local Winter Race Series as a great place to start. These are springing up all over the UK and often have a leisure class for more social paddling. Organised paddles can really help the novice paddler as more experienced people are making the decisions for you whilst also providing cover on the water. These events are a friendly environment that is also great for meeting like-minded paddlers, provides the chance to learn from some of the best Stand Up Paddlers in the country, and even the world.
There are lots of variants of SUP out there – are there any that are particularly good for winter paddlers?
For more experienced paddlers or those wanting to learn a new SUP style SUP surfing will open up more opportunities to get out on the water and guaranteed maximum fun – especially in the winter swells. Getting out in the surf doesn’t have to be difficult as most styles of board can catch something. I really wish I had got into this style of paddling years ago as this extends the paddling season right through the winter. Although you need to know your limits and learn what to lookout for as you are open to the elements and the forces of Mother Nature. There are many SUP surf schools around the UK’s coast to learn the basics and build your knowledge, skills and confidence.