When learning to surf, precautions are a must. With that in mind, here are some tips to keep you safe while having fun in the water. If you’re new to this sport or thinking of bringing someone new into your circle, check out these five simple steps to get started with surfing responsibly. Whether you’re just getting started or looking for ways to perfect your skills as a surfer, there are several things that need to be considered before paddling out. *It is important to understand the hazards and etiquette. Here are 5 simple steps on how you can stay safe.
Step 1: Find the Right Board
The type of board you choose to use can greatly affect your experience as a surfer. Beginners often begin on a longboard (longer+wider) boards as opposed to a shortboard (shorter+narrow) boards. These longer, wider boards are also referred to as logs or longboards are great for beginners because they offer more stability. Another factor to consider before purchasing a board is the materials it’s made out of. Most boards are made of fiberglass or epoxy with a polyurethane coating, but foam boards are the best boards to learn on. Depending on the material, you may want to purchase a board that is lighter and easier to carry around. If you are interested in learning to surf with a longboard, you should make sure to purchase one that is at least 8 feet long, possibly longer for taller folks. Longboards are known for being slower and less maneuverable than shorter boards, but they offer a stable platform to learn the basics. While they may be easier to learn on, they are also less suitable for surfing in heavier waves.
Step 2: Know Where to Go
The first rule of thumb when heading out to surf is to know where you’re going. Before getting on a board, make sure you are going to a safe and appropriate location. This is especially true for beginners who are looking for a place to practice. Selecting a location that is appropriate for your skill level will make the experience safer and more enjoyable for everyone. Furthermore, knowing where to go will eliminate the risk of injury from potential hazards like strong currents or other water-related dangers. Many beaches have signs posted that will let you know if they are safe and appropriate for surfing. If there aren’t any signs or if you aren’t sure, head to your local surf shop and speak with someone who is familiar with the conditions. Ideal locations have slow/gentle waves that allow beginners to ride the whitewash or mushy wave for a long distance. Places like San Onofre in California or Waikiki in Hawaii are ideal.
Step 3: Check the Conditions
It is important to keep an eye on what’s happening in the short term and long term forecast. Before heading out to surf, make sure you check the surf report, (particularly in hawaii or other tropical location), as the surf can quickly increase in size. Our surf reports can easily help you see the nearshore and 10-Day surf conditions. Most surf reports will tell you how big the waves are, the swell direction, local winds and what the tide is doing. The more information you have about the conditions, the better prepared you will be for your session.
Step 4: Wear the Proper Gear
While it may not seem like it at first glance, the right equipment can help keep you safe while surfing. Wearing the proper gear will help you stay warm (depending on the water temperature, avoid cuts and scrapes while out on the water. ALWAYS wear sunscreen and make sure it is reef friendly. Many sunscreens are terrible for marine wildlife. See Surfriders guide to reef friendly sunscreens. A wetsuit is a must for any water temps below 65 degrees Fahrenheit. In tropical locations, a rash guard that has an SPF rating is a good choice. For your lower body, wear a pair of board shorts that provide good coverage (and make sure they have fabric that will stretch. Trust us, if you use a cheap pair of boardshorts, you’ll have a lot of extra weight and you won’t be able to quickly pop-up. For the ladies, make sure you wear a bikini that will stay on, unless you want to show the goods ;).
Step 5: Stay in Control and Be Respectful
Surfing is a fantastic sport that can help improve your health and travel the world. However, it is important to stay in control of your board at all times, this is especially true for beginners who are still learning the basics of the sport.
* Respect the locals and know your place in the lineup (they have been there longer than you have)
* When you are first starting out, lessons are key to learn the basics
*Never drop in on anyone! If someone is already riding a wave or is paddling for the wave (sitting deeper on the peak, they have the right of way
Keeping these five tips in mind will help you avoid injury and keep your surfing experience safe and enjoyable. Now, it’s time to paddle out!