Summer has arrived and it’s getting warmer and warmer. However, in Europe surf season is during wintertime. Swedish surfer Maria petersson shows us, that there is no need to be scared of cold temperatures. On Instagram and Facebook, she delivers stunningly beautiful surf pictures from the Artic circle. On landratten.org she explain why and how to surf in the artic. See German version.
Landratten.org: Hi Maria! I really got intrigued by the pictures of your arctic surfing adventures on Instagram! Introduce yourself, who is the person behind this? Who is Maria Petersson?
Maria: Ha-ha Thanks! Yeah, I guess that’s not the normal conditions that you are thinking about when you think of surfing. Well, I’m a Swedish surfer who actually hasn’t really lived in Sweden for about 10 years. I’ve been mostly living in Australia, England, Spain and Norway. And I find it really hard to choose which one of these places I would want to live because they all have good waves, and they all have good special qualities of their own.
At the moment I am at The Lofoten Islands, which are located north of the Arctic circle, in the very north of Norway. There are not a lot of people up here, but on the other hand there is a lot of waves :).
Landratten.org: What fascinates you about surfing places like the Lofoten Islands? The beauty of the places? The loneliness? The challenge?
Maria: There are so many beautiful and amazing things about the Lofoten Islands that make it worth surfing in the cold water. In winter there is snow covered mountains and northern lights, and in summer you can surf all night and all day because of the Midnight sun (when the sun never sets). So there are so many things that are fascinating about this place, but mostly the waves. I have never lived in a place where you get so consistent good swell with perfect winds. And the best of all: no one in the water (or if someone is in the water it is most likely your good mate).
And I must say that it’s definitely one of the most beautiful places I have ever surfed. You sit in the lineup watching the snow covered mountains while an eagle is flying past you, and it really just makes you smile, every time!
The first times I ever surfed in these cold conditions, it was a big struggle to get used to wearing a thick 654 wetsuit, with 7mm boots and gloves and still trying to be flexible. It’s a big difference between wearing a 3’2 and a 654 wetsuit. The biggest challenge is when you are standing outside in 10 minus degrees, taking your gloves off first, then trying to take off the rest of the suit with frozen fingers. That’s a challenge! I can admit crying a few times while taking them off.
Landratten.org: What are the water and air temperatures? What equipment do you use to handle them?
Maria: In winter the water temperature is around 4 degrees, and it can get down to 15 minus in air temperature. The golf stream actually hits the Lofoten Islands so that’s why it doesn’t get colder even though it is so far up north.
You will need a 6’5’4 wetsuit with a hood all year around, and in winter you will need 7 mm gloves and boots (in summer you’ll be fine with 3-4 mm).
The wetsuits are so good nowadays so sometimes on a sunny day you will even have to take your hood of to cool it down for ONE duck dive 🙂
Landratten.org: Have you already reached a personal limit where you would have said: “I can’t surf conditions any colder than this”?
Maria: I guess I can say that I can’t surf colder conditions than I have because then the water would turn into ice . In Sweden the water is not very salty so in winter it freezes, and it’s normally in winter we do have waves. So even though Sweden is more south than the Lofoten Islands the water and the air temperature is way colder.
I remember a few years ago, on Christmas day. Me and two friends went surfing in one of the roughest and coldest snowstorms I ever experienced. That was pretty cold 🙂
Landratten.org: Have you got some tips for us for surfing in really cold conditions? How to prepare, how to get changed, how not to freeze to death?
Maria: Ha-ha! I would definitely recommend learning to get changed inside of the car! And also paddle as much as you can to keep the heat, because when you do loose the heat in your feet or your hands, it’s really hard to get it back. Also try to get warm as quickly as you can after a session, otherwise it gets harder to get back to your normal body temperature. I would also recommend bringing some hot water to pour in the wetsuit if you want to jump in for a second session.
Landratten.org: Thanks for your time, take care!
Maria: Thank you for the interview and I also want to thank Lapoint Surfcamps, RandomBastards and Odd Molly for being so awesome!