Winter Surfing in Maine
by Leigh Macmillen Hayes
Yankees are a hearty bunch, and for Mainers, winter surfing is not just a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. Dedicated surfers wait all summer for the fall surf to roll in and the beach crowds to thin out. Among them are the real estate agents, web designers, financial planners, carpenters and students. When the swell is pumping, the fanatics shed their clothes (often standing barefoot on snowy sidewalks and streets), encase themselves from head to toe in rubber, leaving only their faces exposed–which are quite accustomed to cold–and jump in the water.
Just as skiers and riders look toward their local mountains for the first Nor’ Easter to bring snow, surfers are counting the days until the first big storm to bring waves. When everyone else is driving to the mountains to go skiing or snowboarding, Surfers are traveling to the coast in wetsuits looking for the right spot to go out in the snowstorm. You know when you are truly passionate about a sport when you’re willing to track through knee-deep snow, 20 degree air temperatures and the water is a balmy 34 degrees.
When the water is cold, it’s like pudding and when you get a beat down, you go down. However, technology today makes it bearable. Comfortable even. The wetsuit technology continually makes improvements in leaps and bounds.
If you are a surfer and would like to learn more about winter gear requirements, conditions and advice, keep reading about the surf shops that Activity Maine works with. Aquaholics Surf Shop in Kennebunk and Maine Surfer’s Union in Portland, will have recommendations based upon your needs and skill level.
Maine Surfers Union is located on the 2nd floor on 36 Market St in Portland’s Old Port. They have everything you need to get in the water this winter, from winter wetsuits, gloves, booties and a very impressive selection of surfboards and paddleboards for beginners to the most seasoned vet with some of the most competitive prices around. They also have products for the non-surfers in the family with year round clothing lines for men and women from O’Neill, Patagonia, Rip Curl, LiveME and many more. The nice thing about MSU is the owner is at the shop everyday and most likely he’s the one you will be speaking with. You will see the true passion he has for the sport and making sure that every customer finds what they are looking for and leaves with a smile on their face. MSU is the recipient of Portland Buy Local Indie Biz Awards Best New Business for 2013.
Aquaholics Surf shop in Kennebunk is open year round. We have the largest selection of women’s and wetsuit sizes in Maine. We carry all of the major brands and we pride ourselves in having what you need, when you need it. We wear everything we sell and we consider it our job to share our knowledge and opinions about the gear we carry. We teach year round, so if you’re interested in trying surfing and you consider yourself radical enough to jump in, we’d be glad to feed your dementia. We also rent equipment appropriate for the water temperatures and conditions, so if you happen to be in town when there’s a swell and you didn’t bring your gear, come on down and suit up, grab a board and paddle out.
If you happen to be in town on a Tuesday morning, join us for “Mom’s Morning,” a free program that focuses on getting the girls out for a splash, but we let the guys join in the fun. Call ahead to be surf the conditions are favorable.
Oh, and if you’re in own for a visit and your hotel has a hot tub or heated pool and you forgot your swimwear, don’t worry, we carry swimwear year round, drop in for a look around, you’ll like what you see.