Racing a giant seahorse in wetsuit? That’s how a 19th century French painter conceptualised the future. And while he was almost on the ball, most people these days prefer giant seahorse racing in a modern wetsuit.
Wetsuit technology has come a long way, especially in the past decade. Surfing the wintry, wondrous waters of northern climateswas once a dream. Nowadays cold water surfers participate in prestigious competitions that draw big crowds. Take the UK Pro Surf Championships at Thurso on the northernmost tip of Scotland; one hundred pro surfers compete annually with an estimated 2000 people arriving to enjoy the spectacle.
Thanks to modern wetsuit technology watersports can be played almost anywhere and, with two thirds of the world’s beaches lining cold waters, a new world of sporting opportunities has been opened up by new neoprene fabrics that protect wearers from extreme cold and hypothermia.
Getting to the bottom of it
It was our fascination with the deep that drove us to go down into no-man’s-land. Records as far back as the 16th century reveal our diving ambitions are nothing new. It was a physicist’s race to the bottom of the ocean that led to the invention of the wetsuit.
Petite just got huge
Wetsuit technology has had a profound impact on global communities that goes well beyond sport. Villages that once relied on fishing and other local commodities have rapidly become surfing havens, people come from far and wide to enjoy competitive watersports. In many places, including Thurso – a once quiet community of fishermen and sheepherders – towns and villages rely on tourism as their primary industry. Thurso is full of wonderful little hotels and pleasant restaurants and pubs.
Don’t let your head get too big!
Diving bell suits were bulky, clumsy and dangerous. Go too deep and your head could literally explode into that bulbous metal helmet that was a standard fixture of diving suits. Neoprene is flexible and can be adjusted to size, watersport and any water condition. Browse online to find the right wetsuit for you. The Wetsuit Centre has an extensive catalogue of wetsuits and watersports gear to get you going.