Winter Surfing

Michelle Sommers Winter SurfingSurfing is my passion. It’s what I live for, and I am a better wife, mother, friend, and person after I spend time in the ocean. If you know someone who surfs — woman or man –you know how much happier they are after a surf session. Most of the time it’s easy to get out there, and you just can‘t wait — warm, clear water combined with scorching hot summer weather makes it so inviting. If the temperature is right, all you need is a swimsuit, rash guard and sunscreen and you can stay out all day.

However, we live in a coastal area that gets colder weather beginning in November. Air temperatures begin falling, and water temps are not nearly as inviting. Winter makes it really difficult to get yourself stoked to go surfing. However, you can surf throughout the entire winter if you have the right apparel – wetsuit, gloves, boots and a hood. We often get better waves in the fall and winter months, so it’s worth getting your gear on to catch even a few good waves when most people wouldn’t consider going in the water. I believe it’s more about desire and attitude. Even on the worst day, you still can have a great session — as long as you don’t talk yourself out of it first!

A few weeks ago we had some fun waves rolling in with warmer than average air temperatures for this time of the year. My husband and I were able to get away to surf, but by the time we arrived at the beach, a cold front had moved through our area which made the temperatures drop below 50 degrees, and the wind picked up to over 20 mph. Our enthusiasm quickly diminished, especially when we crossed the dune and saw a good swell become less than inviting.

At that point I easily could have talked myself out of surfing or allowed my husband to convince me it really wasn’t worth it — as he decided to go back to work. Instead, I told myself that I would regret not going out, even if the conditions weren’t the best. After all, I had a sitter for my two boys and some much needed time to myself.

After squeezing into all of my wetsuit gear, I paddled out into a lineup of quite a few people. As I sat there listening to everyone complain about how bad it was, how cold they were or that the waves were better earlier, I decided to tune everyone out and just enjoy this time to myself. As a mother, I welcome and appreciate every free minute I get, and surfing is my favorite way to spend time without my two awesome little boys around.

Michelle Sommers Winter Surfing

After catching a few waves, most of the other surfers began leaving the water, and soon it was just one of my girlfriends and me left. Within seconds of the last person leaving the beach, the wind died down almost completely; the water glassed off and the waves coming in were perfect:
A-frame, chest high, peeling walls of water that every surfer dreams of surfing — and they were all ours! We had so much fun out there and stayed until the sun went down. I remember one particular wave that I am still smiling about every time I think about it! Truly a memorable day!

I share this story because so many of us find ourselves in daily situations where we discourage ourselves and others from experiencing great opportunities. It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of doing something challenging or to complain to others so they become discouraged. Often it takes more effort to talk ourselves into doing something that could be better for us such as exercising, eating well, getting more sleep, or learning a new sport. Was it worth going surfing that day when no one else seemed to think so? You bet it was, and I know I will do it again…all winter long!

Suzie Cooney

January 13, 2011 at 2:04 pm

Go Summer Go!! Makes me shiver but what a great way to stay in shape and burn some calories!

Lisa Ludwigsen

January 13, 2011 at 2:14 pm

I am an ocean swimmer in northern California. Swimming year round helps keep me deeply connected with the cycles of nature and healthy and hearty. Seals are much more plentiful and the birds and fish species change in winter. It’s like you say, nothing feels better than getting out of the ocean on a cold winter day.

Kerry Sommers Hallam

January 13, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Great article Michelle!! Before I read this, I was sitting here talking myself out of working John took the kids to kungfu and I have a few min to myself..however, after reading this, I know I need to go for that run I so need! very inspiring! Thanks!

Kelly Foster

January 13, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Glory to GOD!! You know that calming of the wind and waves rolling in perfect was no coincidence. Hallelujah 🙂

“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” -Psalm 19:1-4

Christa Bauer

January 13, 2011 at 3:35 pm

Hey Michelle- My Bible study leader was speaking of her love for surfing and the scripture in James that says put your words into action….. Her example was just b/c she’s watched all the surfing events, and knew everything about surfing doesn’t mean she surfs. I’ll have to send her your articles!


January 13, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Surf Stoke….best feeling in the world. Unfortunately I live about three hours away from the shore but I make the effort to get out there as often and I can. Whlie land locked I do the next best thing for mommy time…… I work out on my Indo board and visualize days like you had! Michelle can”t wait to meet you this summer at your Surf Camp!!


January 14, 2011 at 4:16 am

Great article! Thank you for pointing out that the reward is in the doing, a positive action will always bring something good. The water is ever changing and we cannot predict the conditions, what is going to occur from minute to minute, that is why I love stand up paddle and other activities in, on and around the water! We who live close to the ocean are so very blessed! Thank you again for inspiring me to keep on training and working to get in better physical condition for the demanding sport of SUP.


January 14, 2011 at 11:06 am

Great article.

But here, the water is ice-covered right now (Google “ice fishing”). So as long as I’d have to travel to surf, might as well go someplace warm!

Jessica Bellofatto

January 14, 2011 at 7:15 pm

Michelle!!! As a fellow athleta featured athlete and beginnner, (but totally addicted) surfer, THANK YOU for this article. This is my first winter of “winter surfing” and it is a bit colder up here than it is for you I believe? I went out on Christmas Day, after being awoken at 4:45am by my 2 kids to open presents (oy!!). I was ready to go, headed out to our local break- ditch plains out in Montauk (have you ever been? come and visit this summer!) There were a handful of people in the water, beautiful clean and glassy waves, and I was stoked. I got suited up- 5/4 suit, hood, new 7mm booties, 5 mm lobster claw gloves, the whole deal…. on that particular day, however, it just wasn’t happening for me. Teeth chattering from the get-go, paddle paddle paddle paddle but the waves rolling under me…. the few that I did catch I had to pull off of so as not to “drop in” on the better surfers who were already on the wave… I was getting quickly discouraged (and colder and colder).. Then, looking out towards the next set coming in, I noticed something coming up out of the water…. kept looking, and saw the sweetest seal face bobbing up and down, playing with us, teasing me, looking right at me, encouraging me I felt, and lifting my spirits, as I struggle with the steep learning curve of this new sport. AWESOME!!!! Caught the next wave, SUPER FUN!, rode it all the way to the beach, poured some hot water down my shivering body as I peeled the wetsuit off, and went home with a smile on my face..what an amazing christmas present, a lesson, a gift, for sure. Super psyched to be on this journey with you this year!!!

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