Russian winter surfing fan Konstantin Sankov, 30, walks in the icy waters of the Gulf of Finland in the village of Lipovo outside Saint Petersburg.

The temperature is below zero, the wind is howling and the beach is covered with snow – perfect conditions for Russian surfing fanatics to wax their boards, don wetsuits and catch waves.

“Whether it’s winter or summer … it doesn’t matter, we go surfing,” says Nikita Kononovich, a 29-year-old entrepreneur standing barefoot in the snow on a beach on the Gulf of Finland outside the northwestern city of Saint Petersburg, Russia. He points out that “it’s warm today” as thermometers show -2°C.

That’s nothing for a surfer like Kononovich, who recently took his board out on northwestern Lake Ladoga in temperatures of -10°C.

The problem for surfers isn’t paddling into the icy water without freezing – but getting out of the water, says another surfer, Danila Novozhilov, who has won a title at Saint Petersburg’s surfing championship.

“The worst moment is when you get out of the water and go get changed,” he says, rubbing moisturiser into his face to protect his skin from chapping before running down to join his fellow enthusiasts.

“Surfing in winter isn’t particularly hard,” he insists. “You need to respect a few rules like watching how long you spend in the water to protect yourself from the cold.”

Along the shore lined with pine trees, a handful of walkers in head-to-toe weatherproof clothing stop to watch as the surfers head out to the waves.

For one woman watching, 25-year-old Anna Nalyotova, such macho feats are inexplicable. “I can’t even imagine what could make me to go into the water at this moment,” she says. – AFP Relaxnews