Or how to fix your wetsuit…
Ever stacked it and managed to rip open your wettie with the fins of your board (or someone else’s board)? Now, you are quite lucky that you were wearing that wetsuit I guess. It would have hurt much more if it was your skin that was torn open. However, it’s still a painful experience to have a gash in your wetsuit. As we all know, they are not cheap for once and a leaking wetsuit kind of defies the purpose of it.
What are your options? You could send it back to the manufacturer and get it fixed. Some surf shops offer to fix it too. Problem with that option, chances that it takes ages but you don’t want to have to sit out for a few weeks just because your wettie is in repair.
The other option is wetsuit fixing DIY. Tried and tested on a nasty tear.
First, you need to get organised and get all the bits that are required to fix your wettie. First stop is probably a surfshop after all to get the Neoprene cement, repair fabric and Neorez.
These are the things that should be part of your wetsuit repair kit:
- Neoprene Cement
- Repair fabric
- Dental floss and big fat needle
- Bulldog clips
- Paddle pop sticks
- Piece of wood
Before you get your teeth into the sticking bits back together part, make sure you’ve taken all the preparatory steps:
- Dry your wetsuit before you fix it.
- Fence off area of operation.
- Ensure adequate lighting is available
- Put a piece of paper on the inside or tape the inside so you avoid spillage.
- If it’s not a clean fin cut but a bit frazzled out, you might want to get a scalpel from the chemist and trim the edges before you stick it together. Actually scissors might do as well.
- Open Neoprene Cement
- Apply one layer of Neoprene. Let dry for 5 min.
- Apply another layer of Neoprene.
- Press together firmly and let it dry. If you can’t be bothered holding it in person You can put a paddle pop stick or similar on either side and secure it with bulldog clips (I bet you were wondering why the hell you would need paddle pop sticks). The instruction say you can use the wettie after another 10 min of drying but we actually left it overnight to be safe.
That will probably do the job. However, if you are one of the perfectionist sorts, there are some extra steps for added strength.
For extra strength:
- In addition to the sticking together with Neoprene, stitch the cut with dental floss (yes, dental floss, it’s got the right amount of stretchiness).
- Then turn it inside out and glue it inside with Neorez (instead of the Neoprene Cement because it’s softer and not going to scratch. Also on the inside it’s actually not Neoprene but the cotton lining which does not go so well with the Cement)
- Put another layer of Neoprene Cement over the outside stitching
- And then if you really mean it you can also iron on a patch of repair fabric or two even – inside and outside. Not only does it seal the cut but it also makes it look nicer. Make sure you put a piece of wood (covered in a plastic bag to avoid damaging the wettie further) inside the leg arm or whatever to stuff the leg which makes it easier to iron the patch on.
This is the advanced-pro-DIY-perfectionist-method. How many of the steps you need to take, really depends on the type of cut you have:
- For simple tears that are just on the surface, you probably get away with just ironing on a repair patch.
- If it’s a straight cut but the Neoprene is exposed, we recommend using the cement and patch.
- If it’s a nasty cut and/or it’s in a spot that stretches a lot (e.g. legs…you don’t want to worry about tearing it again every time you put it on or take it off), then it makes sense to go through the whole shebang of cement – stitch – cement – patch x2 as described above.
All in all it will take you a good couple of hours if you do the whole thing. However, it’s worth it and what’s two hours out of the water compared to two weeks.
Good luck with the handywork.
PS if you are not the DIY type of person and you are in the Eastern Suburbs, happy to fix it at the VGG headquarters. Drop us an email firstname.lastname@example.org