What does it mean to be a cold water surfer?
What attracts us to those hard edges and wild elements? 'The ideal should not be the calm, which can turn the very ocean to a stagnant pool, nor the hurricane, but the mighty trade-wind, fresh, life-giving and unfailing' - Henry Martinson
I do my best thinking when I’m in motion or in the stillness and alertness of nature, waiting for the next wave. You have to move more slowly, conserve energy.
For me, I feel cold water is the ultimate leveller. It strips us of all our pretence, stereotype or swagger. It breeds authenticity and trust. Gender lines blur and it becomes about your strength of character and willingness to embrace the unknown, it builds trust in each other. It takes us out of our comfort zone - You have to really want to be there, with nothing to prove, because the elements don’t care who you are, whether you’re a man or a woman.
'If you want to associate with people in reasonable human doses and also experience beauty and peace, there are not many places left to choose from except those that have a bad reputation for weather or wind.' - Nordic sailor and explorer Bjorn Larsson in his book Finisterre.
Photo - James Bowden
CWS appeals especially to introverts, or those with a greater inclination toward introversion despite our apparent extrovert ways. It’s where we can recharge, replenish, come back to wholeness, gather our true energy about ourselves after having given so much of ourselves in a world of constant buzz, noise and communication. Isolation can feel like a gift.
The consequence of exposure to wild places - strips me bare, exposes my psyche and soul to the pure elements of nature again. Slows my pace, tuning out the noise and unplugging - a digital detox, so I can better listen to myself and the universe has to say. and it’s a little scary, there are no filters. Being grounded is very important for me because I’m so often too full of ideas, always facing forward, restless, and I live such nomadic existence.
Being in nature and connected to my environment is hugely important for me and makes me come alive. I like to stand outside in the elements and feel the world around me through all the senses. I drink in the horizon, close my eyes and feel the wind brush my cheek, the pale sun gently kiss the back of my neck, the softness of the wet earth beneath my feet, wiggling my toes and stretching my fingertips skywards, feeling the expansiveness of it all. It’s a celebration and a way of giving gratitude.
Cold water coasts - it’s been a leap out of my comfort zone. To give myself space for nothing at all other than the simplicity of a journey into the wild, to a cold, forgotten coast and chasing waves and following patterns nature dictates and sharing experiences with.
My Dad is the zen master of ‘slow it down, be here now, with whatever presents itself in the moment.’
Awakening the senses with the assault of nature and the element. Feeling alive, doing what we love, playing like seals in the sea, and thinking about nothing at all. Letting the mind grow still. Letting go is harder than you think, slowly the tension i didn’t even realise I’d been holding began to release and my body ached.
I hadn’t realsied how i had tried to cover up wounds instead of exposing them to the fresh air to heal. That’s the other thing about cold water, you can feel your old scars again as your skin tightens against the cold.
Despite the fears, i trust that by just being with myself and not trying to do anything at all I will already have what i need, what I’m looking for, at the moment when i need it. That these periods of exploring, being and reflecting will fuel me up for my next jump into the unknown.