Coldwaves by Porsche - subzero contest - Wojtek Antonow

Subzero contest in Poland – thick wetsuits and cold waves

Would you go surfing at a water temperature of 2 degrees? 

Well, 35 of the best cold-water surfers from all over Europe just did in Wladyslawowo in Poland, an hour’s drive from Gdansk. The competition, called Coldwaves by Porsche, was an invitational event that brought 23 men and 12 women together for a day on the Baltic Sea. The beach was frozen at the beginning of the competition, the breath visible. There aren’t many days on the Baltic with clean 4 to 5-foot waves, but the 5th of March happened to be one of them. 

Similar to the coasts of Germany, Denmark and Sweden, the waves break over sand between piers or groynes. These coastal protection structures, made of either rocks or wooden piles, induce the waves to break over the sandbank. Sometimes there is ground swell, but mostly it’s wind swell from storms on the Baltic Sea. 

Credit: Wojtek Antonow | Surfer Alys Barton

The Coldwaves by Porsche contest in Wladyslawowo, Poland 

The contest started at 9 am with the men’s division in front of the east podium. The 23 surfers from countries such as Germany, Denmark, Scotland, Ireland, Poland, France, the Netherlands and the Basque Country put on a great show. Before the semifinals, the contest zone was moved to the west podium because the waves looked better a few meters down the beach at noon. The contest went smoothly until the final and Ian Fontaine, Oliver Hartkopp, Gearróid Mcdaid and Iker Trigueros gave their best. We saw powerful turns, some floaters and a few air attempts. In the end, Ian Fontaine scored the highest and won the first Invitational Surf Contest in Poland, followed by Gearróid Mcdaid, Iker Trigueros and Oliver Hartkopp in fourth place. 

Coldwaves by Porsche - subzero contest - Wojtek Antonow
Credit: Wojtek Antonow

The women ventured into the waves shortly after, and a good-sized crowd stood on the beach to watch the show. Cold water specialists from Denmark, Sweden, Poland, England and the Czech Republic, to name a few, found some solid waves to show off their surfing skills. In the afternoon, the sun even came out and the wind dropped, creating a beautiful setting for the women’s final. Two Polish surfers, Karolina Marczak and Karolina Wolińska surfed in the final with Dominika Hornikova and Alys Barton.

The Welsh surfer Alys Barton found many waves to show her powerful turns, scored the highest wave with an 8.17 in the contest and took the victory. Karolina Marczak came in second, followed by Karolina Wolińska and Dominika Hornikova. The prize money was amazing with 3000 grand for first, 2000 for second and 1000 for third for both women and men. The winners also got a beautiful trophy made out of glass, wood and aluminium. It was designed by the Polish artists Aleksander and Gustaw Lange whose work you might have seen on Gabriel Medina’s boards. 

Coldwaves by Porsche - subzero contest - Wojtek Antonow
Credit: Wojtek Antonow

Thick wetsuits, hot tubs and a Porsche at the beach 

The surfers who participated in the competition are used to the cold and brought thick wetsuits, gloves and boots to Poland. When the heats follow each other in short intervals, there is no time to change though. That’s why the organisers have placed hot tubs on the beach for the surfers to jump into between heats to warm up. Danish surfer Katinka Sørensen told me that it was a strange feeling because you sat in the hot water but didn’t really feel it. Only after a while and taking off the gloves so that the water could enter the wetsuit. And it was a pretty funny picture seeing the surfers sitting in the tubs at the beach. 

Coldwaves by Porsche - subzero contest - Wojtek Antonow
Credit: Wojtek Antonow | Between and after heats in the hot tub

The event was very well organised overall and spoiled those involved with great food and a cool competition venue. Even a Porsche came to the beach and created a bit of an obscure vibe. It arrived in the morning on the frozen sand. Hopefully, it didn’t get stuck at the end of the day when the sand was soft….

Polish surf federation just got official 

The president of the Polish Surfing Federation Jasiek Sadowski played a crucial role in the organisation of the Coldwaves by Porsche competition. Thanks to his expertise, the right day with good waves and a blue sky was chosen. The Polish Surfing Federation was registered only recently. They are proud to be the first Polish federation where men and women are represented in equal numbers.

Jasiek Sadowski :‘I am still amazed that in the 21st century there are still differences between the genders, not only at a sporting level, but also in the management (committees, boards, etc.). One of my goals as president is to make surfing accessible to all and to emphasize in all committees that surfing is a different sport and brings with it the Olympic mission and special values. Inspired by the 2024 Olympics in Paris – the first ever Olympics with an equal number of female and male athletes – we introduced parity (2 men and 2 women) in the board of the Polish Surfing Federation, making it the only Polish sports federation with an equal number. We want to make our decisions better and have more reliable views from the women’s point of view and make decisions together. Together we create a better world through surfing. Aloha!”

 

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