Speedsurfing / Windsurfing – Hypothermia Risks

Speedsurfing / Windsurfing – Hypothermia Risks

Last session it was still cold, both the air and water temperature was around 3 degrees Celsius. But we went windsurfing, I was not aware it was this cold somehow. My bottomline at this moment with my current wetsuit is 5 or 6 degrees air temperature. The session was quite fun, mainly because I didn’t stay long in the water and didn’t have to swim (yeah I really liked the futura for maximum fun but also great speed). Personally I always have a plan B for when it goes wrong (and windsurfing is impossible), knowing how to survive as long as possible is essential.Anyway I like to share some knowledge that might safe you some day. From the wikipedia hypotermia page some interesting qoutes that all windsurfers should know. These are important when it goes wrong and windsurfing back is impossible caused by personal injury or gear failure:

“Hypothermia is defined as any body temperature below 35.0 °C”  -Just the definition

“Moderate hypothermia, low body temperature results in shivering becoming more violent. Muscle mis-coordination becomes apparent.”  -Fatal for windsurfing, mis coordination of muscles, it could even be you can’t do the last 100m to the beach. You feel sick and weak, also thinking normal gets hard.

“Alcohol consumption increases the risk of hypothermia” – Soo beers, whisky, vodka, etc is not helping.

“Heat is lost more quickly in water than on land” – When your board is big enough, sit on it, even if its small try to sit on it. It gives you much more time when at least your core&head is above the waterline. I used in the fishnet accident my legs to stabilise when I floated back, rest  (body, arms, head) was above the water.

“Water temperatures that would be quite reasonable as outdoor air temperatures can lead to hypothermia.”- Soooo even when the water is a bit warmer compared to air temperature(at sea at this time in the Netherlands) try to keep out of the water.

“A water temperature of 10 °C (50 °F) often leads to death in one hour, and water temperatures hovering at freezing can lead to death in as little as 15 minutes.”– Without wetsuit in normal clothing, I guess the wetsuit buys you some extra time (but not hour(s))

“The United States Coast Guard promotes using life vests as a method of protection against hypothermia through the 50/50/50 rule: If someone is in 50 °F (10 °C) water for 50 minutes, he/she has a 50 percent better chance of survival if wearing a life jacket.”- Weightvest ot lifejacket anything on your body will help to keep more heat. Don’t throw it away, however for a weightvest it might be smart to dump weight at one point for safety reasons.

Last but not least don’t panic, also keep faith you’ll be helped, even when chances are small, each minute alive makes it more likely you will rescued. And remember in lots of rescue actions when the boat or heli arrives the people in problems let go and drown, soo hold on till your safe!!

Erik Loots

Erik is windsurfer for 10+ years. In his daily life he is professional in construction dewatering, advisor, troubleshooter. Erik likes adventures, explore and to challenge himself. During his life he is trying to get the best out of it and have respect for the earth, nature and future generations. The modern world is about sharing, in this blog Erik shares his experiences, selfreflection and lessons learned.