Learn to surf – the basics

July 27, 2010 by Urban Clothing  

Learn to surfSurfing is a great sport and even if you are a complete beginner you will be grinning ear to ear on your first day. Another great thing about surfing is it keep you super fit burning around 200 calories an hour and you don’t realise your exercising because it’s so much fun. There’s nothing like catching a wave and being pushed into shore just using Mother Nature for power. Blimey that all sounds a bit zen, sorry! Now back to my meditation.

It really is best if you can have at least one surfing lesson with a qualified instructor at a surf school when learning to surf, this should cover the basics of surf etiquette and basic surfing  instruction. You will usually find that most surf shops will rent you a board and wetsuit for a few hours at a very reasonable rate. A soft surfboard is ideal until you get the hang of things as you will get a few bangs from the board whilst starting out surfing.

Surf etiquette for beginners

Surfing can be dangerous especially if you are not aware of what’s going on around you. Surfboards are mostly hard with pointed noses and sharp fins so you really don’t want to get in an argument with one when learning to surf. As a beginner surfer the most important thing to remember is to be aware of what’s going on around you. This however can be difficult with everything that’s going on in the water. To start with you will be just catching the white water so all you need to do is make sure no one is on the wave that your trying to catch. You will find that most advanced surfers will have already got off the wave before this point so there should be plenty of white water waves for you.

Surf safety for beginners

Surfing Lifeguard FlagsAlways use a leash and when walking out into the waves always keep your board by the side of you, never in front of you, because if your board ends up between you and the oncoming wave it’s not pretty. Be aware of other surfers when your walking out into the waves it may be easier for you to avoid them rather than them avoid you if they’re also beginners. It’s best to walk out to just over waist deep to start with stay well within your depth. Always obey any lifeguard flags on the beach and use the designated surfing area if there is one (black and white flags in the UK) and check for any potential rips or currents.

Paddling a surfboard

Walking into the waves with a surfboardWhen you have walked out to around waist deep turn to face the shore and wait for a gap in the waves. Now’s the time to have a practice at lying and paddling your surfboard. You need to find a good balance point on the board where the nose is a couple of inches out of the water so you’re neither too far back nor too far forward on the board. If you are too far back the waves will pass you by and you will be unable to catch them. If you are too far forward your run the risk of the nose digging in and throwing you off the front of the board. Now have a practice paddle, front crawl, and you will usually get a good idea if your positioning is correct. Remember this position TIP: usually there are logo’s or markings on the surfboard use these as a reference point so you can quickly get in a similar position on the surfboard again.

Catching your first wave

Now you’re comfortable finding a good balance point lying on your board it’s time to have a go at catching your first wave. Walk out into the waves to around waist deep and wait for a wave to pass you. Now turn around to face the shore line and get onto your board and find that balance point. Look over your shoulder for an approaching wave and start paddling. Try and keep the board going in a nice straight line perpendicular to the approaching wave. As the wave approaches and you feel it get to the tail of your surfboard, and start to push you, give a few hard paddles and you will feel the board accelerate as the wave pushes you along. Stop paddling and put your hands on the side of the surfboard towards the nose and let the wave take you into shore. When you are approaching a couple of feet of water slide of the side off the board, this will stop you going any further and possibly damaging the fins on your surfboard.

What next for the beginner surfer.

So you’ve mastered catching the white water what next? Well now is the time to have a go at turning. Turning already? Yes, we think it’s best to get a feeling for it early on so you understand about weight placement. When you catch your next wave and your going along nicely and feeling in control lean slowly to one side and you will feel the board start to turn. The board will track at an angle to the wave. Then lean slowly in the other direction and you will feel the board turn back to straight and then to the opposite angle to the wave. Keep practising this until you are confident controlling the surfboard. This will stand you in good stead when it comes to the next stage, standing up.

Look out for Learn to surf part 2: Standing up on a surfboard coming soon.

Some Surfing Gear to wet your appetite

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