Learning how to surf isn’t easy. Plenty of first time surfers will spend more time with their face in the surf than out of it, and while this can be disheartening at first, a little perseverance will help you get above water, and soon be riding the waves like a pro surfer. The team at Outdoria has compiled a handy little list to go with that perseverance in order to help make your first surfing experience a successful one. Who knows, you might show everyone by popping up first try.
Learn to body surf
Before the advent of the modern surfboard, surfing was done without any sort of aid at all. Considered by some to be the most pure form of surfing, bodysurfing is an excellent way to get used to the rhythm of the waves and learn how to ride the wave as it breaks. Spend some time swimming to catch waves first, to learn the timing of the break and build the necessary paddling power to catch them.
Use the right board
While it is certainly possible to learn how to surf on a short board, it will most certainly make the whole experience more difficult. Longboards and Softboards are designed to provide a wide stable base on which the surfer will stand. A greater surface area means they are picked up more easily by the waves, allowing you to conserve energy and catch more waves. When you have the basics down you can always graduate to a shorter more manoeuvrable board.
Practice on land first
You may have seen surf schools before lining up on the beach with a group of budding future pros practicing the art of ‘popping up’ on a wave. You can always practice this yourself (although a trained professional will also greatly increase your chances of catching waves) on the beach before attempting to take your board out into the water.
Lie down on your belly on your board on the sand and practice hopping up to your knees first. Try catching a few waves like this just to get the feel of things. Keep your knees bent, your centre of gravity low and use your arms for balance by grabbing either side of the board.
Once you have mastered surfing on your knees then try bringing your non-preferred foot forward (or whatever's comfortable) while still holding on to the sides of the board. The next action is to twist to the side and stand up while slowly letting go of the sides.
White water waves
Ready to get in the surf? Stick to white water your first time out there. With a long board, you should find riding waves on your stomach easy as the broken waves carry your board into shore. There is little chance of getting picked up and dumped and you can start working on popping up without the wave outrunning you.
Always wear your leash
This one says it all in the heading. If you are constantly chasing after your board, you will soon be exhausted and run the risk of getting into trouble in the breaking waves. The more you stay in contact with your board, the less energy you will waste and the longer you can enjoy surfing. A leash not only protects you but the other surfers around you as well. A long board shooting out across a wave can be a dangerous projectile if it’s not kept under control.
Even if you make it up to your feet first time because you are a born natural, you will soon find out that falling is a natural part of surfing. Learning how to fall is essential. Always fall to the side, otherwise you might just cop the tip of your board on the back of your head. Diving off your board can be dangerous as well, especially when surfing in shallow water. If you get dumped by a wave or held under by the breakers, stay calm, hold your breath and protect your head with your arms. Relax, ride it out and swim to the surface naturally when the wave has passed. Tensing up is more likely to lead to injuries.
Keep your head up
And on a swivel. While it is a solo sport, surfing is performed in areas with a lot of traffic. Give way to other surfers and be sure to indicate which way you are travelling so you don’t cross lines. If someone is already on a wave, don’t drop in on them. Not only is it rude, but dangerous as well as collisions can happen.
Above all else, have fun and conserve your energy. Try not to rush things. Surfing is supposed to be relaxing, so chill out, take your time and let the waves come to you.