The hype around ice surfing and why it became so popular
When the sun is shining an the temperatures drop, Otto takes out his board and drives to the coast to go for a surf. With him he brings a thick neoprene suit, neoprene gloves, boots and a thermos filled with hot water. Not for the purpose of making tea but to poor into his boots when it gets to cold. “Everyone who goes for a surf in the winter brings it along, it warms you up and you’re good for another round.”
Not only Otto is attracted to this form of surfing. A lot of Belgian and Dutch people went to the coast this winter to take part in the new so called ice surfing hype. So what is ice surfing actually about? According to Marion Frantzen, owner of Unstad Artic Surf, it’s not that different from surfing as we know it.
“Ice surfing or artic surfing is the same as the kind of surfing we all know about. The only difference is that it’s practiced in waters below 7 degrees Celsius.” Marion’s dad Thor moved to Unstad in the sixties after discovering surfing in Sydney, Australia. He wanted to practice his surfing in his home country Norway and searched the perfect spot to bear the artic waves. According to him the only difference between Sydney and Unstad are the temperatures.
It is not surprising that ice surfing has been immensely popular in the Artic and Scandinavian countries for quite some time now. What is strange is that it has become more popular in the Netherlands and Belgium in the last few years. Our water temperature is perfectly fine in the summer to go surfing, but there is a vast increase in surfers during the winter time. “We used to close during the winter time due to low attendance, in the more recent years we stayed open during the winter due to the demand for surfing lessons and the renting of equipment.” According to Perry Hoek of the Surfschool Hoek van Holland. Perry can not give a clear answer to why they see an increase in the visitors during winter time, but according to him it has to do something with Covid-19. “ A lot of people were restricted in their travel options during the pandemic, this led to a rediscovery of their own country and with that I think they discovered what our beaches can provide. Our waves might be a bit smaller than the once in Hawaii, but we provide the same feeling hahaha.”
So next time you are thinking of brushing up your surfing skills maybe consider our beautiful North Sea coast before you start dreaming of some Hawaiian beach. You might be amazed of what she has to offer. But do not forget your thermos filled with hot water, you might regret it otherwise.