If you have grandkids, kids, nephews or nieces and you surf, you will identify with me when I say that you want that for them too. I’m not talking about being pushy and getting them on the WSL or other such tosh. No, they can blaze that trail themselves should they want to. What I am talking about is sharing the joy of the greatest past-time on earth, riding waves on whatever equipment they want (as long as its not a bodyboard).
I was lucky enough to grow up next to the ocean, albeit in a coastal town on the south coast of England. Cold water and not much swell did not stop my brother and I becoming comfortable in the sea and snagging the swells when they came. In actual fact it made those days even brighter. So how could I not want that joy, the greatest feeling on earth, for my children, nephews and nieces. I owe it to them to help them at least experience that bliss, after that they can make up their own mind.
I now live in Portugal, close to one of the most varied and swell happy places on the planet, there is however a small problem. The water is not warm. Even in the summer when the air temp can reach consistent 30-35 degrees (85-95 degrees Fahrenheit) the water does not get much above 18-19 degrees (about 65 degrees Fahrenheit) and for small people who are being pushed around on a board this can be chilly. Wetsuits, as I am sure you know rely on reflecting your own body temperature back at the water trapped in-between the rubber wetsuit and your skin, creating a warm barrier between you and the colder ocean. If the subject is not moving a lot and generating heat, they are going to get cold.
My wife and I both surf and we have one son who is now seven years old. He has grown up on the beach and with us surfing, he goes in the water and paddles around body-surfing but has always got cold, and when we take him out on a board, gets even colder, especially when the waves break over his head. He said recently,“I am not sure about surfing, dad” and my wife and I just looked at each other, imagining that he might be spending some time on the beach as selfishly we need our fix. Not to worry, though everyone is different, ho hum.
One of the problems we always faced when buying wetsuits for him was that he, like all kids, grows so fast. We’re not made of $$, so we were reluctant to spend a lot of money on suits. However, if you buy a cheap kids suit and it’s says it’s a 3/2, I’m convinced it’s actually thinner, they all just felt so thin and they never fitted properly. That was before we got an Animal wetsuit for him.
I say that we got it, my step mum has some connections at Animal Surf Co and knowing of our peril, decided to pull some strings and get our boy a decent Animal suit. That changed everything.
His now prized possession is an Animal LAVA 5.4.3. It is the warmest suit (so he says) he has ever had. He can stay in the water way past the time I want to get out, and more than that he has become fearless (not always a good thing) and he wants to go surfing.
After our first surf together, when he was standing and riding unbroken waves onto the shoreline, we were sitting having a drink overlooking the 2ft perfection. He said,
“Dad, why do I feel so tingly all over and really kind of fuzzy? I like it.”
This is the moment that we live for as parents, to see our child happy. Not only that but even if he stops surfing tomorrow at least he will know the feeling. I could see the surfed out look in his eyes, the distant happiness, of things reorganizing themselves in his head. He was, in that moment, the most beautiful thing I have seen.
So a massive thank you to Animal wetsuits for making a new surfer and spreading the love. If you would like to know more about the technical parts of the suit and why I think it worked I will be covering that later with the help of Animal themselves.
I wanted to pass on this story as there might be people or parents out there in the same situation as me. Not every company makes good suits for kids but I will stand by this one.
Give your little one a chance and spend the extra, it could possibly be the best thing you ever do.