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  Dry suit, for sure
  Posted by: Kocho on Oct-22-13 9:26 AM (EST)

-- Last Updated: Oct-22-13 11:13 AM EST --

I would suggest you think how you train. In a wet suit you will be sweating like a pig even at moderate exertion levels AND will be cold if you do get in the water if the suit is thin. If the suit is thick, you will be miserable while paddling - too hot.

In a well breathable dry suit, at moderate effort, you will sweat a bit but will be comfortable. Should you fall in the water (assuming you do have layers enough for a brief immersion), once out, you will quickly dry and be comfortable again. In a dry suit, you can be hot or cold too, depending on layers, but you can be dry (if you don't sweat too much). I think being dry beats being wet...

Wet suits that would keep you warm in the water will be very uncomfortable to paddle in. They may be great for surfing but surf ski paddling at a brisk exercise pace is different than sitting and waiting for a wave to appear and occasionally catching it, then being in the water a lot while waiting or swimming out through the surf. On a ski you mostly stay out of the water and move a lot and constantly.

That said, I do paddle my ski in the winter in the DC area. With all the layers, it is not something that I want to do at high power. Layers are too restrictive and heavy to enjoy. You can work on technique and balance outdoors, work on power indoors - get a kayak trainer if you are serious (the machine, not the person) and paddle indoors for technique, endurance, and interval training. Go outdoors only to enjoy the air and chase bumps and boat wakes and to work on balance.

Unfortunately, near freezing waters are dangerous and every once in a while a competitive racer or fitness paddler/rower dies on the flat urban Potomac due to hypothermia, lack of a flotation device, and inability to swim out the few hundred yards to shore. So, think about it carefully.

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