Is there a less enticing break anywhere in England than our local wave, the lovingly-named Shoreham ‘Shitpipes’?
It breaks over a sewage outflow pipe. It’s cold. The water is brown and filthy. There are usually about 50 people out. And it only works in a howling south-westerly gale.
Still, we’re down there any time it works - that’s our own Matt Barr (above) during a fun little log session earlier in the winter.
It is also a great place to find out whether your kit works or not. So we’re looking forward to putting the new Finisterre Nieuwland Works wetsuit (above) through it’s paces during the rest of the winter.
The release of their new wetsuit is a big moment for our Cornish friends and they’ve approached it in a typically forward-thinking way. Rather than go straight to market, they’ve opted for a soft launch by inviting ordinary surfers to test the suit and help refine the design.
Thousands applied to join the scheme when it launched last autumn, and 200 surfers were chosen to road-test the suit. Matt was one of them, so when it arrived he headed down to North Devon and then - yes - the Shitpipes to see how it performed in typically freezing British winter surf.
The verdict? “Definitely the warmest suit I’ve ever had, with plenty of cleverly thought-out features”.
Some of these are really simple. “At 6’ 4” I’ve never had a suit long enough in the legs and arms. It means the seals between boots and gloves always leak, and I usually have to spend a lot of time fiddling around to keep these intact".
Finisterre have sorted this by making sure leg and arm length is long enough, and included PU tension bands around the wrist and ankle to improve the seal in these notorious trouble spots and make leaking none-existent.
Course, the most important question for any cold water surf wetsuit is how warm it is, and the Nieuwland Works suit scores here thanks to extra wide seam tape, higher loft throughout the suit, additional neoprene in the lumbar region and thicker chest and back panels.
Overall? “I can think of a few tweaks, mainly to do with improving ease of exit and entry. And if anything, it’s going to be too warm as we move into spring. But overall it’s going to transform those proper dark and dingy winter surfs”.
The suits are available to test through Finisterre’s Falmouth, Braunton and London stores. Find out more: http://www.finisterreuk.com/cws/wetsuit.html
Finisterre’s Matt Smith doing some proper surfing in his test suit.