So you want to be a surfer? This beginner’s guide to surfing is the best place to start. Learning a few basic surfing priciples will help you improve faster, be safe and have more fun. But no matter how many times you read this article, you won’t actually learn how to surf until you try it yourself.
"You can’t learn how to surf from google search, website, or blogs! Go with your friends that know how to surf, find a community, or hire surf coach." Learning how to surf is a fun and difficult journey but there is no better feeling than being out on the water, with the sun shining with perfect waves rolling in.
It’s never too late to become a surfer. You can be 5 or 50 and still having a blast riding the swells. The sport of surfing is all about you, your board, mother nature and the waves. Riding your first wave is easy, that is what's cool about surfing. Just be prepared to be hooked and spend the rest of your life chasing the perfect wave.
Surfing is difficult but will draw you in and keep you striving to improve
First things first, before you start surfing, you must know this: surfing is the most difficult sport in the world. Waves are like fingerprints, no 2 waves are the same. Even at the world's best reef breaks each wave has its own flaws and points of perfection. Wind, tides ,and swells are affecting the waves you surf differently every single day.
From standing on the beach getting ready to paddle out for your first session to getting your first barrel, learning to surf is difficult but lots of fun. And once you catch your very first “green wave”, there is no going back, you’re a surfer. Just remember surfing is difficult, you will fail and perfect the wipe out long before you master anything else.
1. Pick the right board for your ability
Having the right tool for any job is make or break. Surfing is no different, having the right board for the conditions and your abilities can be the difference in catching 1 wave or 20.
When choosing the right board to catch waves, volume is your friend. Volume is the measurement of how much floatation the board has. Especially when learning the more volume the better. It will make paddling easier and give you more stability when your riding the wave.
2. Choose The Surf Spot That Fits Your AbilityThis is extremely important. It can determine whether you have the best time of your life, or the worst. Location isn’t only based on the spot itself but you also have to take the tide and size of the swell into consideration as well. There are surf spots that are good for both beginners and experienced surfers but varies depending on the tides and the swell. For most beginners a higher tide is better since it will keep you safer from hitting the bottom. This is especially important when surfing over reef or rocks.
3. Learn The Rules And Don’t Be A Kook
Surfers are always looked at as carefree hippies that don’t care about anything. Truth be told, surfers in the water can be a bit grumpy and there are quite a few rules in surfing. We will focus on a few to make sure to keep you and everyone stoked!
- Stay within your Comfort Zone
You should only surf in waves that you are comfortable with. Don’t get in over your ability and always remember “If in doubt, don’t go out”.
- Don’t Drop-In
The drop-in is the main offense in surfing and unfortunately you see it way too often. Do not catch a wave once another surfer has claimed it by being in a deeper or in a more effective position at takeoff. The surfer who is closest to the peak, the first part of the breaking wave, has priority and it’s their wave. If you look and there is already a surfer on the wave, let him have the wave. The surfer waited his turn and was in the right spot, the wave is his to do his thing. A wave is meant to be ridden by one person, even on accident if there are 2 people on the wave chances are it’s ruined.
To avoid dropping in look, listen, and pay attention. Look to your inside toward the peak before paddling for the wave to make sure nobody's there. Listen for a warning, a hoot or whistle from the surfer paddling for the wave. Pay attention, if you drop in, make sure you're off the wave as soon as possible, apologize before going on with your session. Communication is key.
There is nothing worse than waiting 30 minutes for a wave, when it’s finally your turn, and then being dropped in on by someone who just paddled out and has no idea what they are doing. One person interfering with people in the surf can affect the attitude for the entire lineup and also everyones safety.
- Respect The Locals
Every surf spot has its own vibe. Some spots have more locals than others. This means some local surfers are more willing to share waves with strangers than others. Be sure to keep in mind some people might have surfed that same spot every day for years, ever since they were kids. When you get to a surf spot, take time to feel the vibes in the water. Take your time, be positive, respectful and unselfish. Share the waves everyone is just looking to have fun.
- Don’t ditch your board
If you let go of your board, it could hit you or someone else. Most injuries in surfing are caused by people dropping in or ditching their board. It is important to know when to hold on to your surfboard and when it’s ok to let it go. If you are paddling out, then you should keep hold of your surfboard. It might be easier to let it go but you never know if there is someone behind you that your board can hit. Also, by holding your board and duck diving, you will be back in the lineup faster.
Remember that surfing is all about having fun and enjoying the ocean. Surfing can be a lot of waiting, remember sometimes the surfer having the most fun is winning.