The Porto

The misadventures of a weekend kook


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Northern east coast surf tip: How to quickly dry your wetsuit during winter

Winter time means it's bitter cold in the north east of the united states. But on the bright side, it also means pumping waves. Sometimes there will be a swell that lasts for a few days and there is nothing worse then starting your session getting into a cold damp wetsuit. After surfing in the winter for a few seasons, I've figured out a quick way to make sure my wet suit was as dry as possible for the next day surf session.

Hanging wetsuit and gear

Hopefully you've rinsed your wetsuit with fresh water and ready to hang dry. I recommend getting a closet rod and install it over the bathtub. A rod similar to: Adjustable Closet Rod 30 to 48-Inch should do the trick. The reason for having the rod is to let your gear hang and drip dry into the tub.

First thing to do is to make sure the wetsuit is turned inside out and do the same with the gloves or mitts. It's pretty difficult to turn boots inside out, but I recommend at least rolling down the top of the boots. Lastly, hand squeeze some of the water out of the wetsuit and additional gear. It's impressive how much water neoprene can hold. Less water means it will dry quicker.

If your wondering what kind of hangers I used for the boots and gloves, Skirt / Pants Hanger with Clips. I usually just ask for the hangers when I buy something a at clothing store, they will usually give it to you for free. You could use a special hanger with a fan built in UK HangAir Drying Systems for Wetsuits and Drysuits , but what do you do about the boots and gloves?

The simplest solution is to have a fan blowing on everything, any fan will do. As you can see from the photo all my gear is relatively close to each other, but with enough space to let the air flow freely around. It's important to make sure to the fan points directly at the boots. They take the longest to dry and if damp tend to stink due to bacteria on your feet. It's a pretty nasty smell, so making sure they dry pretty quickly, usually keeps the stench at bay for some time.

I've never completely timed this, but usually I hang everything at night; by morning, all the gear is nice and dry, including the inside of the boots. I'm sure everything can dry within 3 to 4 hours depending on how warm the room is and the fan is blowing and circulating the air.

Hopefully this will help you stay warm for your next winter surf session.

Northern east coast surf tip: Wax your rails in the winter

It's winter up here in the east coast and surfing can be a bit of a bear with the recent Polar Vortex blowing in. Recently, I was talking to a friend about their winter surf session. The take away from their story, their hand slipped when gripping the rail to pop up and busted their face on the deck. Lucky no trip to the doctor, but some bruising to the ego.

It's cold and wearing mitten or gloves while keeping you warm, can be slippery on an unwaxed portion of the board. Do yourself a favor and wax those rails. It's also helpfuling during the summer, unless you're a pro, wax those rails.

Oh in case you wonder what it's like to nail your head on the deck of a board, Check out Sunny Garcia slipping off his board. 

Have fun, stay warm and wax those rails!

How to wax your surfboard with a criss cross pattern

In order to wax your surfboard you’ll need a few supplies: base-coat wax: Sticky Bumps Base Coat Surfboard Wax 4 Pack , top-coat wax: Sticky Bumps Warm Surf Wax Box, White (Pack of 3) and a wax comb: Northcore Wax Comb Comb - Surfboard . If you’re going to remove and reapply wax, you will also want some wax cleaner:Solarez Wax Remover & Cleaner (8 Oz) or Isopropyl Alcohol and paper towels to wipe the old wax off.

Choosing the right surf wax

Waxes get softer when the water is warm. A tropical temperature wax will be the ideal level of tackiness in warm water. A cold temperature bar of wax will be tacky even in cold water where most wax will have frozen up. However, if you take a cold temperature wax to warm water, it will be too soft. You can use a warmer wax in cold water as a base-coat, but it will never be tacky due to it being too hard from the cold.

Sticky Bumps Wax

Cleaning the Surfboard

It is important to first clean the deck and remove any old wax. You want to make sure that the base-coat is applied directly to a clean surface, otherwise all your hard work will rub off easily. To remove old wax, first scrape off the wax with the straight edge of the wax comb. Make sure to get any wax off of the rails by using the curved edge of the comb. Next, use whichever cleaning product you have to remove any excess wax. I recommend Isopropyl Alcohol to dissolve the thin layer of excess wax and wipe it clean. Make sure to run your hand over the deck, there should be no tackiness to it, otherwise wipe off the excess again.

The Base-coat

The reason for the base-coat is to make a bumpy pattern that will give an area for the top-coat to hold on and be tacky. The base-coat wax should be the hardest wax you can get. Since I surf in the northern east coast, I have a couple of bars of tropical wax that I use for a base-coat it’s always hard since the water temperature never gets warm enough to soften it, otherwise get the proper base-coat wax, which is slightly harder.

Criss Cross Pattern

There are many ways to apply wax, my personal favorite is a diagonal grid pattern that criss crosses. The way to create this pattern is by using the edge of the base-coat wax brick and draw a line diagonally from one corner of the deck to the other, until you start to connect from rail to rail diagonally. Don't worry if the lines aren't perfectly straight. Eventually you’ll get up mid-way up the deck where you want to stop, you should go about eight inches past where you place your front foot, unless you are on a long board, in which case continue to the nose. Next, draw the same pattern but in the opposite direction. Again, don't worry if the lines aren't perfectly straight. By this point you should start to see a diamond pattern.

Sharp Edge of the base-coat waxFirst set of diagonal linesSecond set of lines forming diamond pattern

Once you are done drawing the base lines, run the wax brick back and forth vertically from rail to rail. You should start to see the wax begin to catch and build the lines and also fill in the bare parts of the deck. Lastly, repeat the same thing, but in a horizontal or circular motion.

Base coat completely applied with a criss cross pattern

Top Coat

The top coat of wax is much softer than a base-coat which allows it to be tacky and give a grip for your feet. Since the top coat is softer, you won’t need to push down as hard to apply it. At this point you can wax on the top coat using long strokes. I like to go in a circular pattern when applying it, because I like to see bumps catch the bottom coat. But any direction you apply it in should work.

Board completely waxes with a nice tacky top coat and cool pattern. Notice the rails are waxed.

When to comb your wax

After surfing some of the top coat might rub off, be stuck on your wetsuit, board shorts or get scratched off. If the wax looks squished or flat and you don’t have extra wax to apply, use the barbed side of the wax comb to scratch diagonal lines into the wax, making a diamond pattern. If you can, always make sure to add some of wax before each surf session especially during winter time otherwise you’ll be kissing the deck more often then you know. Don’t forget to Wax The Rails!

Surf etiquette 101

After visiting southern California a few weeks ago. I was happy to surf at El Porto, but damn if that place isn't crowded. One thing I noticed, generally most people were following the rules. I say "generally", cause I personally almost took off a guy's head when I got on a wave. Thankfully, no one was hurt and he did appologise. Had he folowed the rules it wouldn't have even happened. So the hard and fast rules are as follows.

Surfing Etiquette Rules

  • The surfer closest to the peak has priority. Riders in front of that surfer should exit unless told not to.
  • Any surfer who is riding a wave has priority over someone paddling out. Ppeople paddling out should avoid conflict with upright surfers.
  • Don't drop in to a surfer's wave. "Snaking" and "shoulder hopping" will usually get get you yelled at, possibly worse.
  • Two people surfing the same wave is acceptable, only if the surfer with priority doesn't object.
  • Always be in control of your board. Hang on to your board, allowing it to float freely is a hazard to others.

Who Has The Right of Way?

The most important rule to remember when surfing, the person closest to the 'peak' of the wave has the right of way. When the wave reaches its peak, the surfer closest to the middle (peak) where the whitewater is rolling over has (priority) the right of way. It's not the surfer who's off to the side of the peak.

Choose a Wave for your skill level

Unfortunately, surfing doesn't have an official Wave Ride Rating system, but some waves are more technical and others are not. Don't surf a wave that's way above your ability, it's fine to push your abilities, but be aware of the dangers you pose to others and yourself.

Remember kids, follow the rules and you won't get in trouble. But sometimes, don't be scared to break them.

Surfing exercises and tips with Clayton Corrective Surf Coaching

Clayton Mark Nienaber gives some excellent training tips that should help improve your surfing technique.

Also check out the surf video he made that interviews Kelly Slater giving excellent adise on surfing technique. Unfortunately you'll have to go to vimeo to see it.