Headspace by Greg Bray

Thoughts and observations of an often displaced Aussie, working to rid the professional world of paper - one page at a time - visit me at OzDox.com.au

Sunday, 2 August 2009

I Love My New Wetsuit

I have just spent 3 days surfing along the Great Ocean Road in Southern Victoria - smack dab in the middle of winter. The water temperature was about 9 degrees with a whistling wind blowing straight in from Antarctica - quite a challenge for me considering the amount of time I spend in Florida where the ambient water temperature right now is in the high 20s.

I had decided that it was time to replace my aging Rip Curl wetsuit - a colorful affair that was once popular in the early eighties, which tends to clash heavily with the all-black wetsuits that dominate any line up these days. Indeed, so garish was my suit that my mates had labeled me "The Wasp", in honor of the bright banded yellow panels on my suit that were the source of much jocularity when there was a lull in the swell out the back.

I have to admit, that trying to squeeze into the same suit that I purchased not long after my 21st birthday was becoming a bit of a task to say the least! Not to mention that it was so tight across my shoulders that I could barely lower my arms to the side. Also, the suit was only 3mm think, and had lost a lot of it's elasticity.

So I bit the bullet, and picked up a 4mm Billabong steamer, complete with 3mm booties and a 3mm hood - all for under $400 (many thanks to Strappers Surf Shop in Torquay - great service and better prices that the actual factory outlets right across the road).

Just 45 minutes later, I arrived at Urquhart's Bluff - confronted with sloppy 1 meter conditions - a constant battering break that would mean a long hard slog to get out the back - and underneath those cold grey skies that are synonymous with the "Surf Coast".

So excited was I to be in home waters again, that I pulled on my new rubber ensemble, without even removing the paper stuffing from the toes of my booties - a fact that I did not notice until removing them hours later. But, the difference was amazing - I was totally isolated from those frigid waters, with the wetsuit adequately insulating that layer of water that had seeped in.

As mentioned, I was in that water for a couple of hours, and would have stayed much longer with adequate light. I was amazed at he flexibility of the new neoprene suites - absolutely no hindrance across the shoulders when paddling, and the booties provided amazing grip and feel when riding the board.

After 20 years, I have finally updated to a new wetsuit, and can now stay out back as long as I want, no longer suffering from stage 1 hypothermia within 30 minutes.

The only problem now is that my new wettie is black like all the others!


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