After receiving my Finisterre wetsuit last November, I’ve been busy over the last 6 months putting it through its paces in tropical Welsh waters. Along with the other female testers, I was invited to a women’s wetsuit tester camp at the brand’s store at St.Agnes, Cornwall – a.k.a Finisterre HQ.
The event was an industry first, bringing together a group of cold water female surfers to listen to our honest feedback on different elements of the suit – performance, fit, comfort, flexibility, durability,warmth and aesthetics – following a winter of field testing not only all over the UK, but in even chillier seas, such as Baltic Germany and bracing Norway.
It was a privilege being involved in such an inspirational weekend – to meet my fellow wetsuit testers and the team from Finisterre, who spoilt us ladies with their amazing hospitality. Particularly special for me was attending with my 7 week old daughter in tow, who was kept toasty warm in the wetsuit when I surfed during my pregnancy.
In creating the women’s wetsuit tester camp, Finisterre have started something very special: a weekend celebrating women of the sea, and a tribute to passionate cold water surfers, not often recognised by big brands or the general surf media despite venturing out day in day out in unforgiving seas to fuel their passion.
On arriving at Finisterre HQ on the Saturday morning, I was immediately struck by the positivity and energy in the room. In combining committed female surfers and an innovative and forward-thinking cold water surfing company, I guess I shouldn’t have expected anything less. Over coffee and croissants we all got to know each other thanks to some fun activities overseen by Tom Kay, founder of Finisterre; and got chatting with brand Ambassadors Easkey Britton, Matt Smith, and Jenny Banks, Finisterre’s newly appointed wetsuit recycler.
Following this fun opener, we testers headed into a break-out room tucked behind the shop floor with to discuss the suit in two interactive sessions with Tom and renowned wetsuit designer Mat D’Ascoli, who were keen to hear our thoughts. In involving field testers, Finisterre, whose guiding principles are ‘product, environment, people’, are proving that they have the passion and energy to design the best women’s wetsuit from the ground up. All aspects of the suit were discussed– what worked for us and what could have been improved– as well as using eco-friendly packaging and the possibility of producing Yulex suits in the near future.
The great vibes extended to excellent conditions – sunny blue skies and offshore waves – and we were all frothing to get into the water in the afternoon. Following a terrific al fresco lunch courtesy of Finisterre and their Wheal Kitty neighbours, Canteen, it was fantastic to head down to the beach with a great group of women. After sharing a moment on the shore, Easkey led us into the water. We paddled out, caught some waves, and formed new friendships in the cool Cornish sea.
The day raced by and it was soon time for the evening knees up, at Canteen. Over delicious platters, we got chatting some more and chewed on the day’s events. Afterwards at Finisterre HQ, the party continued with live music and beers, though I unfortunately had to make an exit at this point due to a very tired baby.
Over cups of tea at Finisterre HQ the following morning, we all reflected on the great weekend we had experienced and how much we had appreciated being part of the women’s wetsuit tester programme. After a debrief and thanks from Tom, contacts were exchanged with promises to visit each other’s breaks and catch some waves together soon. It was pretty unanimous that the weekend was an inspirational experience with great people, amazing waves, fantastic food, and a celebration of women’s cold-water surfing.
Thanks Finisterre and here’s hoping this could become a yearly event!