Tips for Beginner Surfers
Surfing is like a passionate romantic relationship. It could be thrilling, but just like love it can be dangerously treacherous. But for many surfing is a passion.
Like any sport, it takes time, patience and basic physical coordination and one must learn how to do it. If you are just getting into surfing you need to decide what board you would purchase, what clothes you should wear, how to be cool around other veteran surfers, and where is the nearest beach? Don't forget about how does one get up on your board and catch a wave?
Compare surf schools
Invest in a good surf school or camp as it offers some advantages and compared to learning from a good surfing buddy. First, a professional instructor has more experience than a friend, not only in a variety of conditions and situations but also knows how to teach as well as what to teach. You will learn the correct technique safely and efficiently.
Choosing the proper surf school is important and recommendations from other surf pros or other shop owners can be helpful. See if they are accredited by the International Surfing Association, which governs the world's sport. These accredited schools follow exact standards and they are approved instructors certified in lifesaving skills. They also furnish the proper equipment.
However non-credentialed instructors can be just as skilled and effective. It's always wise to ask for references and check records with the Better Business Bureau. You can also get ISA’s criteria as a guide for evaluation. Ask questions such as, are classes limited to eight students per instructor? Do instructors start students on soft boards? Do instructors have students master certain skills before they moved to a more advanced class?
Dress for success
When you're considering what to wear, water temperature is the main factor to consider. If your home beach is in equatorial Africa the water temperature would be near 80°F year-round. This would mean he would only need a pair of board shorts and a rash guard, which is a shirt that prevents irritation from the sun and surfboard wax. Both items should be made of stretchy polyester fabric such as spandex for the most comfortable fit. Rash guards carry a UPF or ultraviolet protection factor rating similar to the SPF rating on sunscreens. A UPF of 25 to 39 is very good and anything higher than 40 is excellent.
If your water temperatures change with the seasons you may need to invest in a surf where sleeveless vest, a long-sleeved jacket, or a head to toe hooded wetsuit. These wetsuits are made of neoprene and are synthetic rubber, which is not only warm but also tough and durable. It is resistant to sunlight, chemicals and abrasion.
Make sure you don't forget your accessories, which include a leash or an ankle strap to secure you to your board. This allows you not to have to go chasing it across the bay when you wipe out. It is now recommended that most surfers where cushioned plastic helmet even though we know it may look nerdy.
Choose the right board
Your first surfboard is like a first car. It should be a basic model, easy to handle and built to last until you're ready for something with more horsepower. Sizing construction are two factors that affect handling and durability.
Size is very important, as a surfboard should match its user. Longer and wider boards are more stable but for a small surfer they should choose a board that corresponds to their height and weight. A 9-foot board is suitable for a novice who weighs about 200 pounds.
In regards to soft boards, which are made of foam for extra buoyancy, these are ideal for true beginners. There is also an epoxy board, which consists of a foam core encased in epoxy resin. As you learn to ride the waves the damages minimized by these beginning boards. Fiberglass boards are more responsive but less durable, something like taking a sports car versus a family sedan.
You can always modify the board with a thin set up. Fins are prongs that are attached to the underside of the board and the act as a writer. One can change out their fins and bury them by size, number and placement to increase speed, make tighter turns and surf in a wider range of conditions.
Make sure to choose the right spot
For a beginner, learning to surf is the equivalent of the kiddie pool. Look for a Sandy, gently rolling bottom that gradually reduces the water. This would create waves to gain height but not too much, about 3 feet high. A straight, sandy shoreline without hazardous rocks and reefs is a good place to start.
Veteran surfers don't look for these kinds of waves because they break up quickly. But this is the place to learn and make mistakes and relative safety. Besides as you know surfers can be very territorial. For safety sake never surf alone, make sure there are always people around within helping distance.
Learn the lay of the land
Knowing your beach geography makes you more safe. Know where the sandbars are, as they produce strong Seaward currents that are called rip currents. You can become exhausted trying to paddle against these currents to return to the beach. Make sure you have a safe course and work out of them by paddling parallel to the shore. Rocks, coral reefs and jetties all contribute to rip currents.
Know when low and high tide occur. Water level effects wave height. Check your local tide tables.
You may also need to recognize native plants and animals and their habitats, as the deadly box jellyfish swarms near some Hawaiian islands during certain phases of the moon.
Learn to read the weather
You would never go out and play golf if the forecast called for storms. Likewise surfers need to check the surf reports and forecasts. Check for ground swells, as they are high-energy waves, produced by strong winds far out at sea. Wind swells are weaker, the products of local winds. Know the direction from which the waves come and your beaches geography so you can predict what type of wave you will get at that beach that day.
Tide tables are readily available online and can be checked on your smart phone or tablet.
Surf conditions can be less predictable than the weather in general so it helps to be able to read climatological signs of change. For example, a rising North wind blowing north to south is welcome on southward facing beaches. The wind provides resistance for incoming waves, causing them to gain height.
Get in shape for surfing
Being in shape does not make learning easier but trying to learn without it can be painful discouraging and even dangerous.
Surfing is a whole body sport but a few muscles get worked more than others. You will use strong arms for paddling, and core strength for popping up.
Sit-ups and push-ups and squat thrusts all help tone these areas. Make sure you have strong rotator cuff muscles in the shoulders, which are used for paddling.
Having a good sense of balance is important in surfing. To improve your balance try walking on a plank.
All these exercises may seem more boring and compared to the thrill of riding the waves. But some of these conditioning exercises can help you find a graceful way to handle a wipeout.
Learn to crawl before you stand
Learning any new skill can be slow so go easy on yourself. Take baby steps and build a firm foundation.
Notice how the board snows rests on the water when you get on it. It should look the same when you'll I on it, the slightly lower. If the nose is too high or dips below the surface you've altered the board center of gravity. Slide forward and restore gravity. Pay attention to a paddling stroke as one should strive for long, steady strokes and palms cupped while keeping the rest of your body immobilized.
Learning is an opportunity to develop patience and patience leads to calmness, which can be a lifesaver and a sport with as many hazards of surfing.
Look before you leap
Surfers can and should observe as much as they can from the beach before pushing off into the surf. Check out physical features such as jetties, peers, and fishing boats that all can be a part of safety factors. Notice landmarks to orient yourself in case you lose your bearings. Locate the local lifeguard if there is one. Check for flags and signs.
Avoid crossing the path between waiting surfers in the surf.
As you become more advanced you will learn to read the waves from a distance and recognize the translucent film bobbing on the surface such as jellyfish.
Obey surfing etiquette
Even though surfing is an individual sport. All servers are part of the community of people who share the waves. There is an unwritten code of conduct and it's especially important for beginners to understand. It helps you prevent accidents and shows your respect for others.
The rules are simply about being polite. One needs to wait your turn in the lineup. Beginners who ride long boards may be tempted to break this rule and use their larger boards paddling and speed advantage to outrace other servers on short boards but don't do that.
Waves are one to a customer. It is considered poor form to drop in, or catch a wave , when another surfer is already writing it. For beginners it's easy not to realize that the waves already in use so pay attention to what's going on around you.
A few other unusual rules in the surfing culture are that it is important to respect and establish surfer spot and seniority. Follow the vibe of the lineup. Early-morning surfers trying to get in a session before heading to work are less tolerant of beginners. Be deferential to this crowd. The after work crowd is more relaxed and boisterous and one can join the fun, but pay extra attention to the traffic. A surfing community is like a neighborhood. One needs to balance friendliness with responsibility annual be sure to fit in.