These simple 10 rules will make you feel more confident in the ocean and will help you to avoid the most common mistakes so many surfers make, when they start their surf way.
1. Respect the ocean. Being respectful means not only seeing how powerful the ocean is. Here we are talking about the skills of wave riding and lineup positioning, about understanding of how waves are formed and break, about the ability to notice currents and channels. It is important to know about storms, pollution, to evaluate possible risks, including the ones of ocean predators.
Ocean is never the same; it never stops changing. If you are only starting getting to know the ocean, make sure you take your time – look around, let yourself get used to the waves, to the new environment and only then go to the lineup.
2. Learn and follow the surfing etiquette. One of the most important rules in surfing says: if you respect the others, you are respected in return. Good lineup manners really matter. The etiquette determines your interaction with other surfers by providing modus operandi in all possible situations: where and how to go to the lineup, whether or not you have the right to catch this particular wave, etc. Following the rules is not only about being respectful; it is also a great part of your safety. Surfers take the etiquette really seriously, it is a must for everyone at the lineup to know and respect.
3. Equipment. Easy as it might seem, but choosing an appropriate hydro suit, board or fins is a huge part of your progress in learning. Yes, you can buy the most expensive or the most fashionable things, but it does not mean they will suit you. The best advice here – be as simple as possible. All you need to start with is a quite big and wide board that will definitely give you the feeling of a safe and comfortable ride. You can even try a second-hand board first, just to understand what board is really yours, and only then buy a new one or have it custom-made.
4. Learn to paddle out. All you have to do here is to make sure that your legs are not in the water, then bend your back with your chest moved forward and paddle with as much effort as you have. There are millions of paddling techniques, but the key to efficiency is to decrease resistance and maximize board sliding and movement range.
5. Seeing channels means safe surfing. A channel is formed in deeper areas, out of surf zone, thus, it becomes a safe place where the surfers can have some rest between the sets or start paddling to the lineup. Sometimes channels can be found right at the reef edge or in a sand bottom trench. In case you are exhausted, going to a channel can give you so necessary moments of rest and even save your life.
6. Currents. Experienced surfers not only ride the waves, but are also able to save their energy and use it efficiently. So, currents can either help you or turn your surf into a nightmare – you can go with a current and reach the lineup without wasting your so much needed strengths, or just in 10 minutes you can find yourself far, far away from the point you entered the water! So, before paddling to the lineup, check what the current’s direction and force are and mentally mark some reference points on the beach. If you got caught in a current all the same, it is better not to try and paddle against it, but to get out of water and walk this distance.
7. Duck dive or Eskimo roll. When you are paddling to the lineup, these are the maneuvers that let you go through a breaking wave. In duck diving, you just go under the wave, and with its energy it pushes you in the opposite direction, away from the foam, so you get closer to the lineup, not to the shore. These techniques might take time to master, but remember that practice makes perfect!
8. Learn how to wipeout. Wiping out is unavoidable in surfing. Panic is never a friend in the cases of falling down; it is much safer if you are relaxed and calm. Try to hold your board as in most cases it creates a hazard for those in water. If you cannot control your board, make sure your head is covered with your hands and arms. Some breathing exercises or yoga will help you control your breath in water. The truth is that many surfers view their wipeouts as something funny! It is important to stay calm and never panic – this rule can save us not only in surfing but in any other complicated situation.
9. Surf forecast. You do not have to be a meteorologist, but reading surf forecasts is the skill that you definitely need for deciding on a best surfing time and spot. Understanding the basic terms and characteristics reduces the risks of going to the spots where the waves are too high or the wind is too strong.
10. Keeping the diary. It is recommended to write down the conditions you have been in: swells, water levels, winds and any other factors that might influence your surfing. Compare, analyze and make conclusions about what combinations are ideal for different spots. Such a diary will make your surfing even better!