Surfing in Scotland. Tallington Lakes Pro Shop kindly armed me with an O’Neill Psycho 3 wetsuit for the trip and I was keen to push it to its limits in the cold seas that surround Scotland.
On the Wednesday and Thursday there was a large swell on the east coast so we decided they would be the best days to head to the surf. We travelled towards Aberdeen and made our way south finally jumping in at Lunan Bay. This was a great reintroduction to Scottish surfing; it is a wild and rugged country and the seas around it seem to reflect that. The surf on the east coast were generally messy but it was great to get some water time before we headed to the reefs and slabs of the north.
From the Cairngorms we made our way along the coast to Inverness and then started the long drive to the northern tip of Caithness. The surfing in this area in my opinion is world class. It offers a huge variety of waves from long mellow points to thick heavy slabs. Having already done two trips to this region we also explored further west into Sutherland and again found plenty of empty line ups to keep us entertained.
To say the trip was ideal testing conditions for a winter wetsuit would be an understatement. The weather is constantly changing with rain and gale force winds. The water temperature despite being relatively friendly in October compared to deepest darkest January is certainly cold enough to put this O’Neill wetsuit through its paces.
The first thing you notice about the O’Neill Psycho 3 wetsuit is how light it is. The new TechnoButter technology, which is a honeycomb neoprene, means that the suit is not dense and has a light foamy texture. The weight of the suit is actually comparable to a 3mm/2mm summer suit when dry. As I got changed I noticed that the suit is extremely flexible; however it is worth noting that with this flexibility you have to be careful when putting the suit on because it feels like you could easily over stretch it or tear it if you pulled too hard.
The seams and seals on the suit are extremely impressive and even through some pretty heavy wipe outs I didn’t find that the suit flushed. The majority of the waves we surfed were over granite slabs and plenty of times you find yourself being dragged along the bottom. Fortunately the suit never split or tore in this situation. Obviously there is a certain degree of luck in the way you fall; but plenty of people did tear their suits on the reef. So I would conclude that the TechnoButter neoprene is tough as well as light.
Actually surfing in the 5mm wetsuit was pleasurable, as surfing can be in such a thick suit. I found due to the flexibility and lightness of the wetsuit, I didn’t tire as quickly paddling as I have in previous suits, and was able to surf for the best part of 5-6 hours most days. These benefits also extend to your ‘pop up’ and surfing; and you feel incredibly nimble for being in such a thick suit.
Overall I would highly recommend the O’Neill Psycho 3 because it made surfing, in Autumn, in Scotland an easy task and handled the conditions better than the suits I have worn on the previous two trips. However I would advise if you purchase this suit to treat it with care, similarly to most top end suits you are paying for flexibility but with this they can easily be pulled or stretched. So always hang the suit from the waist on a hanger and always take some thing to change on, especially in gravel car parks, as it would be a shame to ruin suit before you even got in the water.
Note: O’Neill discontinued the Psycho 3 for winter 15/16 and replaced it with the Psycho Freak ZEN and Psycho Freak FUZE wetsuits. They are the same suit just different ways to climb in! The wetsuit technology is almost 100% the same as the Psycho 3 but O’Neill have extended the ‘fire wall’ inside the suit all the way to the bottom of the legs – toasty!by