Ever watched a surfing movie and promised yourself that you will learn how to surf no matter what? Many of you reading this post might be thinking of following your dream by taking up surfing as a recreational activity following a hard days work or you may be thinking of learning how to surf while you are on holiday.
Whatever your reasons, surfing could be the challenge and relaxant that you need right now. Surfing might look easy when you’re watching the professionals, but there’s tons of basics you need to know before you paddle out into the ocean by yourself.
Follow these 4 steps to be on your way to become a surfer:
- First of all you should note that surfboards are made to float on the water and they have a natural center of gravity. If you lay on any surfboard in a swimming pool, it will come to rest the same way every time. This is what you need to do when you are laying on a surf board. The surfboard should remain in the same relation to the water as it was without your weight on it, just a bit lower in the water. Find this balance point when you lay on your surfboard – mark the point where your chin is on the board. This mark is best made with a bit of surfboard wax or a magic marker. This reference point enables you to put your chin on the same spot every time so the board will react to your weight the same way every time. If the board’s nose digs into the water it’s called pearling – in this case you should move the location of “your chin” back. To adjust, just slide back an inch from the mark and make a mental note. Too much weight on the back of the surfboard will cork it. Many surfing beginners make this common mistake. You won’t be able to catch a wave if you are corking your board. Move up an inch at a time till the board lies in the water naturally. This will provide you with the maximum hull speed and minimum drag from the water.
- If you are paddling in the water, don’t paddle with both of your arms at the same time. This will cause the board to speed up and slow down in the water and you won’t be able to maintain constant hull speed through the water. Always paddle with the crawl stroke, one arm and then the other alternatively. This will provide you with a constant speed so you can catch that wave.
- Once you’ve mastered the laying-on-the-surfboard and paddling part, you should look at mastering the sitting-on-the-surfboard part. The first time you try this you may be quite wobbly. The key to sitting on the surfboard is remaining calm and still. The less movement that you make the easier you will find it is to do this. All the other skills of surfing will improve as you learn to be calm whilst surfing.
- The next step is to learn how to stand up on your surfboard. Contrary to popular belief, this is actually something you have been doing all your life. Lie on your chest with your head up and look ahead. Put your hands on the board beside your shoulders palms down like you were going to do a push up. Push your upper body up while at the same time you sweep your feet under you, laying them on the stringer, the line down the middle of the board, so your weight is centered along the stringer. When you’re coming up, remember to keep low. If you stand erect you will fall. Assume a position of a sumo wrestler. Press your feet shoulder width apart and “grip the board in your feet”, opposite of the way you would press your thighs together on a horse. Have your hands a bit higher than your waist and just in view of your vision. Always look up! If you look at your feet, you will fall down! Practice this for hours. Get someone to watch you and have them critique your performance. Practice jumping up without making a sound on the floor. Calm and controlled is the smoothest way to approach this so practice doing it quietly. Lay your surfboard on a large bed or in the sand and do this exercise. This is a way for you to judge your ability to be controlled.
Be mindful of the following safety tips as well:
- You should never have your surfboard between yourself and the coming waves.
- To avoid collision with others, keep a safe distance, +/- 4.5m (or the length of you, your leash and board combined)
- Beginner surfers should always wear a leash or leg rope tied to their surfboard.
- Every beginner’s surfboard should also have a safety nose guard to prevent dangerous impacts with the surfboard nose.
- It’s a good idea to always surf with a buddy for safety if you are a beginner.
- Never push your board through the water fin first. The fin is meant to keep the board pointing nose first. Pushing the board fins first can be quite dangerous because the board wants to go the other direction.
- If you are starting to surf, consider wearing a chest guard, rash vest or tee shirt to avoid the rubbed rash on your stomach and chest.
- During winter you should look at getting a wetsuit so that you can stay warm while you surf.
- When you fall off your board, cover the back of your head with your hands, with your wrists over your ears and your elbows together. Stay under water for a moment longer than necessary. There are companies that make special surfing helmets, this is another alternative that you could look into.
- When you come up try to be facing the oncoming waves and look for your board’s location immediately. Loose surfboards are very dangerous objects for swimmers in the ocean.
We hope that these surfing tips will help all of you to become aspiring surfers. Remember that these tips are just guidelines on how to surf, we recommend that you have a couple of surfing lessons to make sure you go from Zero to Surfing Hero in no time. Find a surfing school in your area or ask a surfer friend to take you out and give you some first hand guidance.
If you have something to add to these list of tips, please comment on this post and let the readers of the Junk Mail Blog know. Feedback is appreciated and welcome here. Also feel free to check out these related Tips below: