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So, while we’ve been squeezing ourselves into copious amounts of 5mm neoprene over the winter, those clever bods at our favourite surf companies have been banging their heads together to take our already highly-evolved wetsuits to the next level.

Here’s SurfGirl's much anticipated guide to the best of 2011’s flexier and stretchier than ever summersuits – and our guide on making sure they last at least through till autumn. Photos: mike searle SURFGIRL 085


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Fit to flex

To guarantee warmth, your suit must be a perfect fit or you’ll fall foul to flushes – which equals an early bath time. The seams on

your wetsuit should offer a watertight bond (unless you’ve picked your wettie up from Tescos or a lay-by on the A30), but this will be totally ineffective if the fit isn’t good – so put aside a bit of time and try a range of different suits until you find the best one for your body shape. 

SG5

Synergy

Synergy (Spring suit)

Synergy (Short sleeve)

Billabong’s top dog suit, the SG (Solution Gold) 5 is evidence of the heights that wetsuit innovation has reached. It uses Zero Gravity Superflex, Solar Mesh 5 chest and back panels (which use the sun’s heat and are 30% warmer than nylon covered neoprene) and has a Furnace thermal lining which increases heat retention even further. Plus with welded external seams, there aint no way you’re coming in before sundown... £240

The Synergy is Billabong’s entry level classic and offers fantastic features, great value for money and, of course, the Billabong logo! This year’s Synergy uses 60% Airlite Superflex G3 which is stretchy and toastie, flatlock seams, back zip and moulded knees for maximum comfort. £93

Peel, don’t pull Modern suits with thinner neoprene are generally stretchier, so they need to be looked after carefully to enable them to last as long as their less stretchy but sturdier predecessors. The key is to ease them

off bit-by-bit rather than dragging them unceremoniously off as you hop around the gravel and glass ridden car park. Peel your legs off all the way down to the ankle and then carefully unhook the ankle over your heel, rather than standing on one leg in and using the brute force option to pull your foot through…

Care 

In these credit-crunched and eco-aware times, extending the life of your suit is more important than ever, so don’t leave it honking in the boot of your car for weeks on end and follow these steps after every surf:

1. Rinse in cool fresh water. Make sure it’s free of sand, salt and car-park dirt, and run the zipper up and down a couple of times while you rinse it.  2. Attach the Velcro patches together so that they don’t rough up the surrounding areas of fabric. 3. Hang out to dry out of direct sunlight. 

The Synergy is Billabong’s entry level classic and offers fantastic features, great value for money and, of course, the Billabong logo! This year’s Synergy uses 60% Airlite Superflex G3 which is stretchy and toastie, GBS seams and a front zip for zero zip leakage and maximum movement in your back and shoulders. £90

The Synergy is Billabong’s entry level classic and offers fantastic features, great value for money and, of course, the Billabong logo! This year’s Synergy uses 60% Airlite Superflex G3 which is stretchy and toastie, flatlock seams, back zip and moulded knees for maximum comfort. £77

Web: www.billabongwetsuits.com Call: 023 92465555 Email: officeuk@billabong.tm.fr

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Stealth

Aimed confidently at the mid range market, Alder’s stealth makes use of top-end materials where it matter most. It’s got X Stretch on the shoulders and sleeves – to keep your top half super-flexible – has a single-lined torso, and is fully glued and blindstitched. And you can put the cash you save towards your next trip away. £100

Impact

Alder’s entry level suit is just the ticket if you’re off on a trip this summer, and for those dreamy summer days when the surf’s on and the sun’s out. It’s got X Stretch shoulders and sleeves for maximum paddling power too, so less chance of noodle-arm ruining an all-afternoon session. £75

Freeride

Those clever guys at Alder have been taking some time out between their winter dawnies to knock up some great wetsuits for this summer, and the Freeride is at the top of its class. It’s full of top end features including 100% X Stretch neoprene, an Aerocore torso – to keep the heat in where it really matters – and a batflap system to cut out flush through. Top quality. £130

Website: www. aldersportswear.com Email: info@aldersportswear. com Tel: 01566 783 444

G-Bomb

For maximum flex, minimum weight and guaranteed warmth, the G-Bomb is at the top of everyone’s list. A well established top-end favourite, the G-Bomb is the suit that you’ll find the pros in. Rip Curl have been at the sharp end of developing the most flexible neoprene for years, and the G-Bomb is 100% E3 – the lightest and stretchiest to date. No excuses for not making those rodeo-flips then... £220

Dawn Patrol

Never mind the top end £300+ suits, the action at the more economical end of the scale has really been hotting up – as demonstrated by Rip Curl’s Dawn Patrol. Borrowing plenty of know-how from the Rip Curl team, the Dawn Patrol makes use of Elastomax 3, has seamless underarms and shoulders, and a Fireskin lining. All on an entry level suit – what is the world coming to?! £120

Web: www.ripcurl.com Email: rc_newquay@ripcurl-

europe.com Tel: 01637 859359

Legend

C-Skins continue to impress with their fantastic build quality and with the features they bring to their midrange suits. The Legend has super stretchy C-Flex neoprene over the upper body, the Ozone back wing entry system, and is fully GBS. Plus it has titaniummesh chest and back panels to really keep the heat in on those chillier June mornings... £120

Email: info@c-skins.com Web: www.c-skins.com Tel: +44(0)1208 78845 Facebook: www.facebook.

com/cskinswetsuits Twitter: www.twitter.com/

cskinswetsuits

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Cypher

The Cypher is Roxy’s top end suit and sits comfortable amongst the highlyrecommended-ifyou’ve-got-the-dollar club of top-end suits. The Cypher makes use of Fibrelite and bio-fleece neoprene, and Roxy’s Flexmax seam sealing. It is very flexible, very light, very warm – and is a very good option if you want the best you can get in the world of wetsuits... £220

Syncro

Mixing it up at the entry level of the wetsuit market isn’t the ‘that’ll do’ game that it used to be, and the Syncro is testament to that. It’s built entirely from Quicksilver’s Hyperstretch II neoprene for maximum flex, has a hollow fibre chest panel, and a Hydroshield zip barrier. In short it’s a lot of bang for not much buck. Enjoy! £120

Web: www.roxy.com Email: liam@quiksilver-tech.

com

Sabotage II

Features Ultraspan stretch neoprene throughout, hollow fibre chest panel, double-glued, blindstitched and heat-sealed taped seams, interlocking ’Y’-flap water barrier panel to prevent water entry through back zip, smoothskin neck, pre-bent arms and legs, Kanoko flex kneepads for comfort and durability. Made to measure for a perfect fit (stock sizes also available). RRP £220

Web: www.snuggwetsuits.co.uk Call: 01637 878488 Email: snugg@globalnet.co.uk

alana blanchard. courtesy rip curl


Bahia

O’Neill’s Bahia is designed for surf girls who want to bring beauty, personality, and confidence to the water. The combination of chic styling and functionality makes the Bahia a great wetsuit for the style-savvy. Plus it’s fully GBS and 40% UltraFlex DS/ 60% FluidFlex – so warm, flexible and looking cool. Sign me up. £140

D’Lux

The D’Lux is 100% stretch neoprene, with single fluid seam weld for maximum protection from leakage, and a smoothskin front and back to keep the wind out too. Plus this season’s D’Lux has strategic seamless paddle zones for maximum flexibility to keep those arms pumping throughout those three-hour summer sessions. £160

Web: www.oneill.com UK/Eire: +44 (0) 1730 811460 Email: wetsuits.eu@oneillwet-

TK90 3/2

Home grown purveyors of fine wetsuits, Tiki, are back with their TK90 again this season. It’s a great suit with their special water repellent coating, hollow fibre lining and it’s fully GBS. Plus it makes use of soft-touch neoprene, so silky smooth on your skin, and it’s compatible with Tiki’s heated wetsuit system – maybe sneak that in when there’s a nasty north easterly bringing the air temp down...

Tel: 01271 812442 Email: tiki@tikisurf.co.uk Web: www.tikisurf.co.uk

suits.com

Vibe

Body Glove’s great looking summersuit, the Vibe, is feature rich this season… There’s Magna Flex in the key paddle zones (arms, shoulders and underarms), S-Flex taping on the collar, crotch, wrists and ankles, and Fairskin chest and back panels to stop the breeze from cutting through. Great design too – and all for £139.95.

Web: www.bodyglove.com Email: sales@typhoon-int.co.uk Call: 01642 486104

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O/S Zip

Xcel have been right at the front of wettie development for the last few seasons and they’ve not let their guard down this year. The O/S Zip series is for surf girls who aren’t fans of the squeeze-yourselfinto-it front zip entry system, so has a back zip which is offset to allow increased flexibility around the shoulders. Clever. And with their trademark build quality and durability it’s another Xcel winner for sure. £190

Infiniti

Xcel’s Infiniti series has been right at the top of the table for the last few years, and this year’s X/ Zip 2 version keeps up the pace. The closed X/ Zip 2 design meaning that the suit has only one open side to the neck entry making for a tighter and easier to get into system. The suit itself is constructed from 100% Ultrastretch superlight foam, and the water repellent lining is infused with recycled fibres and heat retaining bamboo charcoal. So, warm, stretchy, and environmentally friendly – what’s not to love?! £230

DANIEL SURF LTD Tel: 44 1752 330772 Email: info@danielsurf.com Web: www.danielsurf.com


Flexibility versus Warmth

The flexibility versus warmth debate has been raging for a few years now. We thought we’d throw our two quid’s worth into the mix – hopefully it should help you make a more informed decision.

Firstly, flexibility is king: no two ways about it. It’s essential for performance surfing, and if you’re the kind of surfer who hits the surf for a quick session at least every other day then a thin, super-stretchy suit is perfect for you. Your muscles need to be warm to get the best performance out of them though, so you will have a smaller window in which to perform your best – wait for the best tide or bank, or for when the wind swings round and then get out there and chuck your tail about for a couple of hours in flexible heaven. On the other side of the coin if you only makes it to the coast occasionally – say every other weekend – then when you score some good swell you want to surf until your arms are ready to drop off. Consequently you may want to go for a suit that has a little more thickness and guarantees warmth, so that when that northerly kicks in halfway through your four-hour marathon session you won’t be left out in the cold. 


Recore

The Recore is Gul’s innovative environmentally friendly offering. It’s built using non petroleum based neoprene, and uses bamboo and recycledpolyester fast-wicking thermal fibres to keep your skin dry and warm. Plus with the Quadrate chest zip and seam free shoulders you can also expect maximum flex and minimum flush. So you can enjoy a top-quality suit and know that you’re doing your bit. Engage smug summer smile. £230

Viper

Assistance

We’ve been conditioned to never trust a salesman. But buying surf stuff is a little

Gul continue to impress with their featurepacked wetsuits. The Viper is just the ticket for maximum flex and maximum warmth this summer. It’s packing a Quadrate chest zip to keep those shoulders nice and loose, has external LQS for 100% water seal, and G-lock wrist and ankle seals to reduce flush. A great bet from one of the UK’s finest. £205

different to picking up a second-hand car. It’s pretty rare that surf shop employees work on commission, so 99% of the time you can trust what they say when they recommend equipment. Lay your cards on the table and explain what, where and when you need the suit for. Feel them out with a few questions first to see if they surf and if they know the area that you will be using the suit in.  Make sure you know your liquid-sealed from your single-lined before you hit the shop. And don’t be afraid to ask other surfers how they’ve got on with a particular brand, then take your time choosing and get ready to embrace the summer! For more wetsuit info, go to www. surfgirlmag.com

courtesy billabong

Web: www.gul.com Email: gul@gul.com Tel: 01208 262400

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King Of Watersports King Of Watersports offers an unrivalled choice of wetsuits from every single premium surf brand; Quiksilver, Billabong, O’Neill, Rip Curl, Xcel, Neil Pryde, just to name a few! King of Watersports also offer free delivery on wetsuits. Tel: 01202 763675 Email: sales@kingofwatersports.com Web: www.kingofwatersports.com

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devon Tiki Surf Shops Europe’s largest range of surf hardware, instore and online. Wetsuits by Tiki, Patagonia, O’Neill and Rip Curl. Surfboards by Tiki, McKee, Hydroflex, Southpoint, NSP and more. Plus Factory outlet store for ex-demo and end of line bargains! Tel: +44 ( 0) 1271 815757 Email: info@tikisurf.co.uk Web: www.tikisurf.co.uk Address: Caen Street, Braunton, N.Devon, EX33 1AA scotland granite reef surf shop Granite Reef, the UK’s original independent Surfboard, Snowboard and Skateboard specialist store, we take pride in the products that we sell and only stock the best brands. Tried and tested by our team and staff. Tel: 01224 252752 Email: info@granitereef.com Web: www.granitereef.com Address: 45 The Green, Aberdeen, Scotland AB11 6NY wales HotDog surf shop O’Neill, Billabong, Animal & C-Skins Winter stock with free expert fitting. Open 7 Days- Boots, Gloves Hoods & Surfboard Hire. Tel: 01792 234073 Email: sales@hotdogsurf.com Web: www.hotdogsurf.com Address: Hot Dog Surf shop, 26 Pennard Road, Kittle, Gower, Swansea SA3 3JS Ma simes surf hut ‘Wales’ premier online surf shop with quality wetsuits, fast efficient service, and solid advice. Call us - we answer the phone! Tel: 01437 720433 Email: info@masimes.co.uk Web: www.masimes.co.uk Address: 28 High Street, St. David’s, Pembrokeshire SA62 6SD west coast surf We are a beachside surf shop with Wetsuits by Rip Curl, Animal, Patagonia, Hurley, Alder, C-Skins. Check the Website. Tel: 01758 713067 Email: surf@westcoastsurf.co.uk Web: www.westcoastsurf.co.uk Address: Abersoch, Gwynedd LL53 7AP channel islands freedom surf Run by a surfer for surfers! Where the guy in the shop selling the the suits is the same guy in the water using the suits! We simply have the best range on the Island. Tel: 01481 246690 Email: freedomsurf@cwgsy.net Web: www.freedomgsy.com Address: L’Islet Cross Roads, St Sampsons, Guernsey

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dorset The Wetsuit Centre The Wetsuit Centre holds the largest range of biggest stocks of wetsuits in the country at unbeatable prices. The Wetsuit Centre also offers a Free NEXT DAY Delivery service on all wetsuits ensuring you hit the water when the swell does. Tel: 01202 302943 Email: info@wetsuitcentre.co.uk Web: www.wetsuitcentre.co.uk Address: 42 Sea Road, Boscombe, Bournemouth, Dorset, England BH5 1BW

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east sussex Ocean Sports Board Riders Brighton – Surf Shop and Online 1000’s of wetsuits – Ripcurl, C-Skins, Xcel, Billabong and O’Neill premier dealers – Clearance and end of line always available. Established since 1990. Call us for help, advice and the best price. Tel: 01273 412241 Email: info@boardriders.co.uk Web: www.boardridersguide.com Address: 368 Kingsway, Hove, East Sussex BN3 4QT cornwall Down the Line Surf Company Ltd The UK’s premier wetsuit stockist 18 years as the UK’s number 1 hardware store. Expert advise from experienced staff. Free delivery…speak to the professionals. Rip Curl, Billabong, O’Neill, Xcel, Alder and Patagonia. Tel: 01736 757025 Email: info@downthelinesurf.co.uk Web: www.downthelinesurf.co.uk Address: Market Square Arcade, Copperhouse, Hayle, Cornwall TR27 4EA Sessions Surf shop We Have a huge range of Wetsuits from Alder, Billabong, O’Neill and Rip Curl. Plus surfboards, bodyboards and much more! Tel: 01326 211159 Email: info@sessionssurfshop.com Web: www.sessionssurfshop.com Address: 26 Church Street, Falmouth, Cornwall TR113EG SHOP ON THE BEACH Outstanding range of Patagonia and O’Neill wetsuits and O’Neill test centre for free demos of wetsuits, try before you buy! Tel: 01637 860051 Email: sales@shoponthebeach.com Web: www.shoponthebeach.com Address: On The Beach, Watergate Bay, Cornwall TR8 4AA SUNSET SURF Independent, family-run surf shop. Right next to the beach on Gwithian Towans. Expert advice, in-store and online, from surfers for surfers. Wetsuits, Boards and Clothing from C-Skins, Quiksilver, Roxy, Rusty & FCS. Tel: 01736 755007 Email: info@sunset-surf.com Web: www.sunset-surf.com Address: 10 Gwithian Towans, Gwithian, Cornwall TR27 5BT Freeriders Surf Shop Falmouth’s number one independant surf shop. Xcel, West, C-Skins, Quiksilver and Rip Curl. Wetsuit and hardware specialist over 200 new and used boards in stock. Tel: 01326 313456 Email: keith@freeridersonline.co.uk Web: www.freeriderssurfshop.com Address: The Moor, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3PN

courtesy o’neill

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SurfGirl Summer Wetsuit Guide