This winter, Finisterre launched their first women’s wetsuit; the Nieuwland 4 Hooded Wetsuit. The wetsuit comes after a winter dedicated to a unique and widespread tester programme, working with a range of female surfers to gauge their feedback and observations.
Our first women’s wetsuit was designed with warmth, fit and durability in mind. To help us build the best suit possible, we enlisted the female surf community for our tester programme; 100 women from across the world who gave direct feedback on the suit’s performance and design. At the end of the winter, we held the first ever Wetsuit Tester Camp at Wheal Kitty, where we had a lot of fun, but also received invaluable feedback that ultimately lead to a better production suit. It was an awesome process and great to meet them all.
Following the testing season, all of the women testers to join together for another first: The Women’s Wetsuit Tester Programme Camp. The weekend saw nearly 100 testers descend upon the Finisterre workshop for two days of surfing, cook-ups, music and invaluable feedback
This suit was designed by women. My experience and expertise only offered into the construction of the suit, not the design. The suit was changed, single handedly, by the April camp.
Respect to Finisterre for making this move and while it has taken them some time to bring this suit to market, for a small company committed to quality, these things can’t be rushed. The result is something Finisterre can all be proud of. A wetsuit designed by women, for women.
We spoke to one of Finisterre’s ambassadors Easkey Britton to find out surfing in Ireland through the winter and how the new wetsuit has performed in the cold Irish surf.
Easkey with the cold weather upon us now, how much are you looking forward to surfing this winter?
Ireland in winter takes you out of our comfort zone – you have to really want to be there, with nothing to prove, because the elements can be unforgiving and unpredictable. I love the wildness though. How it can feel like the wind is stripping you bare. Blowing so hard there is no space anymore for nagging thoughts, doubts or worries. It certainly helps build patience and trust.
How cold does it get and how do you stay motivated during the cold months?
The weather patterns definitely seem more chaotic with climate change accelerating. It adds to the uncertainty. It was strange last winter. We didn’t have any ground frost until the new year and then it felt like we were surfing in between snow storms all the way to April! In a way cold water surfing appeals to my longing for solitude and introversion despite my apparent extrovert ways. I find it’s a great time of year to recharge, regenerate, come back to wholeness after having given so much in a world of constant buzz, noise and distraction. The quiet isolation of winter can feel like a gift. Other times, of course, it can feel like a penance when the north-westerlies haven’t relented for weeks on end and all the world is grey. To get motivated on the tough days it’s good to have some mad surf buddies and invest in a really good thermos!
Did you get involved with the production of the Finisterre wetsuit?
Yes! The process of the production of the wetsuit was fascinating. There was so much direct engagement. I have a whole new appreciation for the complexity, skill and sheer wizardry that goes into the design of a good wetsuit. Wetsuit designer Matt D’Ascoli came over from Hawaii and, with Tom Kay, they ran workshops for a whole weekend to get feedback from the women who had been testing the suits from all over the UK for the winter. The event also led to lovely connections and network of support among such a diverse mix of ‘women of the sea.’
Have you had chance to use the wetsuit much and how has it performed?
I had my first surf in the new suit last week, when the water temperature was about 10 degrees (and dropping)! The fit is incredible, it’s like a second skin. And I love the range of motion I have in the shoulders. There’s great attention to detail such as the extra insulation for the lower back. I also appreciate how all the feedback was taken on board and I can see that come through in a superior design.
It’s great that Finisterre created a new women’s wetsuit alongside the men’s one. There seems to be more inclusivity with female surfers these days, having seen so many changes in surfing, do you feel that?
It’s great to see change is happening, it was seriously long overdue! And it’s incredible to see surfing lead when it comes to supporting greater gender parity and equality in sport with the WSL announcing equal pay for both men on women on the tour. But really, that shouldn’t be such an astonishing thing in the 21st century. So this is just a beginning, a great opening and opportunity to push for greater inclusively and diversity in surfing not just when it comes to gender but for all minorities. There’s still a lot of exclusivity and marginalisation in the surf industry, surf culture, and even certain surf communities …It’s great to see that beginning to be disrupted by individuals, groups and bigger movements using surfing to accelerate social and environmental causes globally, like the International Surf Therapy Organisation, the Institute for Women Surfers, and the surfers behind the Moy Hill Community Supported Farm in Ireland. It would be great to see surfing create more spaces for empathy, understanding and inclusivity in a world that is starved of it.
Click through to see the Finisterre Wetsuit here