When I first came to this sport I thought it was only a summer activity. Now, as my family says, I am obsessed, I sail all 4 seasons including winter. The main advantage of winter sailing is the winds are stronger and generally more consistent.
I can hear you saying “but its cold” ah yes, but with the right equipment and a bold attitude great times are there to be had.
Sail with Friends
I am a firm believer that anytime on the water should be with other windsurfers who will look out for you. Winter brings extreme conditions and conditions that can change dramatically with little warning so having people around that can assist are essential. If you have to go out by yourself, ring someone before you get on the water and after you get off the water.
Get Dressed for the Occasion
Get yourself a decent winter wetsuit. Buy it from a Windsurfing shop where they know we do not like restrictions to arm movements. My first winter wetsuit was from a dive shop and I found after 15 minutes on the water I lost all strength in my forearms because the suit was too restrictive.
Gloves, booties and hood. Not quite the fashion statement but there is fewer people on the beach to notice anyway. Most of our body heat departs by our head and for the men in the audience that are follicly challenged like myself this only makes it worse.
Check your gear vigilantly before you leave home and before you hit the water. Gear failure in cold water is dangerous. Carry a good range of spares. Consider stowing a piece of downhaul rope and knife in a water proof pocket somewhere.
Pick shallow locations; do not go too far out. Your ability to swim to shore is drastically reduced in cold water. Pick locations that are not isolated with plenty of people around.
The night before your sailing session have a good high carbohydrate meal. Do not skimp on breakfast, plenty of cereal, toast and eggs and bacon to start the day.
Make sure you eat good energy food, bananas and muesli bars are ideal, before going on the water. Energy food feeds your muscles. Cold temperatures sap muscle strength.
Get active while you are setting up, don’t dawdle. Wave your arms around and jump around. Getting the blood pumping warms the body. Keep warm clothing on whilst you are setting up.
Whilst on the water
Do not stay on the same course for long periods of time. Be active on the water. Do not go too far out. Do not tense up as this restricts blood flow. Breathe, relax and enjoy
Finished for the day?
Get into warm clothing as soon as possible. Drink warm/hot liquids. Stay out of the wind.
I am no expert on this so please do not take this article as the defining statement; however use it as a guide. For those that sail the colder months already I ask you to add your tips to this page for us all to benefit.