Surfers have a love-hate relationship with urine. On cold winter mornings with a gut full of coffee, sometimes nothing feels better after your second duck dive when that ice cream headache kicks in than draining the main vein. Any non-surfer might quiver in disgust. But, for those in the self-contained yellow shower club (and that’s 90% of us who’ll openly admit it and the other 10% who do but lie about it) there’s a down side. Namely, the smell.
So, everybody does it. Great. But there’s a wrong way and a right way. And, from the yellow novice to the experienced pisser, it’s always good for a little refresh on the rules of the road.
1. Don’t pee the first session with a brand new suit
The great thing about wetsuits nowadays is sizes are pretty universal. But every now and then something might go wrong when you purchase a new suit. It might not fit right, it could be defective – seams break, zipper breaks, whatever – in which case, you’re going to need to take it back. For one, if the sales person smells pee, guaranteed they’re not going to let you return it. But if you covered up your tracks, even rinsed it out, say, and they let you return it, it’ll likely be sold to someone else. In other words, someone’s purchasing something they think is new that’s been pissed in, and that’s not cool. So be sure you’re keeping the thing before you mark your territory.
2. Don’t pee in a friend’s wetsuit
Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures. Picture this: the waves are pumping, and you find yourself at a friend’s house up a creek without a suit. Your buddy says it’s too big. But hey, “You can borrow my wetsuit,” he says. What a pal. The only way to soil this touching moment is to literally soil that suit. Like with dogs as in the ocean, once you pee freely all over something that was once someone else’s you send a message: mine now. In the world of pheromones and ammonia, you’ve declared that when someone lends you something out of the kindness of their heart, instead of returning it in working order, you’ve chosen to piss your friendship away.
3. If you ever find yourself renting a wetsuit, assume every person who’s worn it has peed in it
I once found myself in the parking lot with a friend changing out of our suits and recanting an amazing session. An Australian couple walked up to us. “Oy,” the guy said. “You reckon where we can rent a coupla steamers?”
“You mean wetsuits?” we replied. “Yah. Just over there,” we pointed. They must have seen how good the waves were. Borrowing a wetsuit from a friend is always a better alternative to renting. At least then you know that only one person’s soiled it. But, if you’re in another country having left your own at home, or otherwise left with no options, renting may be the only way to get in the water. If that’s the case, you must assume that every other person that’s rented it has peed in it. Now, unlike tip #2 there’s no rule against peeing in a rental. Quite the opposite. It’s highly encouraged. If you’re gonna end the day reeking of urine, might as well have it be yours that drowns out the rest.
4. Drain your wetsuit
There are a few tips to avoid both you and your suit smelling of pee come time to head to work or school after a surf session, but it may require some planning. Things to be wary of: does your home break have a shower? If so, it’s always a good idea when showering off to pull your collar away from your neck and let some of that water in to rinse out anything that may be left in there. Draining your suit with fresh water is probably the best case scenario, as salt water can be damaging to the neoprene.
But if your local break doesn’t have a shower, it’s best to drain your suit out in the lineup. When it’s cold out, it’s probably best to wait until you’re just about to leave. Let some water in your suit, and when you catch a wave it should drain out your legs. This, however, is not advisable in frigid conditions – hypothermia risk and what not. Which leads to the next tip.
5. Always rinse your wetsuit out
Every wetsuit manufacturer will tell you that after every use, it’s best to rinse your suit out with warm water and hang to dry inside out in a cool dry place. They say so largely due to the fact that salt water is not good for your suit. The added benefit, though, if not the more important one, is that rinsing out your wetsuit after each use will (hopefully) ensure that it doesn’t take on an irreparable urine scent.
6. Wash your wetsuit periodically
As in tip #5, it’s important to keep your suit clean. By not just rinsing it but washing it, you can sometimes reverse the effects of a smelly suit. Warm water and a little bit of mild laundry detergent does the trick.
7. Avoid certain foods the night before a surf
They say certain foods make your pee smell strongly, most notably garlic and asparagus. If you use a wetsuit often, you may have learned this the hard way. To avoid being Pepe Le Pew in the lineup, or stinking up your car and everything within a 10-foot radius from a smelly suit, maybe just avoid these foods when you plan on surfing.
Got any tips to add? Leave them in the comments.