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Triton Voice

The Student News Site of Triton High School

Triton Voice

The Student News Site of Triton High School

Triton Voice

The Waves are Firing, Except the Water is 30 Degrees

A Dive into the Art of Winter Surfing
Abby Sullivan
Andrew Balkus Surfing in February

The aire bites  at your face while your body is submerged in the chilly seas. You have left  from school/work in hopes to get a couple waves with the daylight that is left. All that protects you from the cold is your wetsuit. Partaking in such a sport as winter surfing is not for the faint hearted. It is a test of one’s athleticism and even more so a mind game. “Snow, water, hypothermia, you must be out of your mind to go out and winter surf,” said THS teacher Mr. Frank Torres when asked what comes to mind when he hears the term “winter surfing.” 

But what is it that drives a person to surf in the cold months? 

“ I surfed every single day here in NH for 365 consecutive days when I turned 50. And then I did it again when I turned 60. Every single day for one year. Twice in my life here in New Hampshire.” Said Ralph Fatello, a local legend who has been surfing since 1964. Ralph surfed year round twice, once in memory of his father who introduced him to surfing, and a second time for a little girl who had passed away from cancer who had been  just learning to surf. Surfing every day for a year is incredibly impressive; not only does it express Fatellos dedication to surfing itself but it is also a mind game. “I had to surf every day in the winter. Snow, sleet, ice, wind, and no matter how sick I was. I went out and caught at least one wave every day for one year,” he said. 

Starting back in the 1950’s, surfing began to make an impact in the colder months of the year, bringing new levels to what you could do with a board. Unlike today, surfers back then didn’t have the thick wetsuits they have today and had to try to keep warm by wearing wool sweaters or by piecing together scuba suits. Surfers would have large bonfires going on the beach to defrost and warm back up after leaving the frigid water. Wetsuit technology has changed significantly even within the past 10 years, explained Fatello. ¨Hell yes. When I first started they didn’t have wetsuits for surfing. They made them only for Divers. So we surfed in the winter wearing divers suits¨ Said Ralph. ¨They were thick, stiff, and had no flex whatsoever. Surf suits didn’t happen until the mid to late 60’s. And that was a game changer. To finally have wetsuits made and built for actual surfers was huge.¨ Today wetsuit technology is incredibly advanced, providing wetsuits that can keep you warm in the cold months, but also allow flexibility so you can still perform to a high ability in the water. 

¨I have been surfing since I was little, and have been winter surfing for about 4 years now.¨ Said Newburyport Senior Ben Perron. ¨There is a certain feeling you get when you’re paddling out in cold water, and even colder temperatures that just gives you a rush of adrenaline.¨ Said Perron. 

Here in New England some of our best surf rolls through in the winter during our nor’easters. These storms bring large, clean waves. ¨Some of the best waves I have caught in my life were during the winter seasons up in Hampton.¨ Said local surfer Oscar Straumen. ¨If you love something you will do whatever it takes to do that thing as much as possible, that is why we surf year round. We have a passion for surfing and the best waves are in the winter.¨

We have interviewed multiple people who actively enjoy winter surfing, but why not get a non-surfer’s point of view on the extreme sport. We decided to go around and ask teachers here at THS, what they think of when they hear the term winter surfing. “Something I don’t want to do.” Said business Teacher Mr. Trovato. “It just sounds cold, you gotta have all the gear, wetsuits, booties to keep you warm.” Said Mr. Noble. But when It all comes down to it, surfing is a sport just like anything else.

 There are seasons for sports, for example football is only in the fall, but those that love that sport practice and condition year round to better themselves. People who winter surf aren’t crazy, we just have a love and passion for the sport like no other. No matter how cold the air is, the water, or if it is snowing with 30 mile an hour winds, if there are waves to be ridden a surfer will paddle out in the frigid water, to pursue what they love most.

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