Surfing is an amazing sport. But just like any sport, it takes time, patience and physical coordination to learn how to do it. If you are new to surfing, there are probably a number of questions you are unsure of, including: what board to use, how to get up on the board, and how to behave around veteran surfers in the water? If you are looking to hit the water for the first time, here are 7 things that you should know.
1) What To Wear
When it comes to surfing wardrobe, the main factor to consider is the water temperature. If you are going to be in warm water, you will probably only need a pair of boardshorts and a rash guard – a shirt that prevents irritation from the sun and surfboard wax. However, if you are going out in some colder temperatures, you will want to invest in an assortment of surf wear to make the experience tolerable. You will want a sleeveless vest, a long-sleeved jacket and a head-to-toe hooded wetsuit. You should look for items made with neoprene, which is warm, tough and durable. Lastly, you will want to get a leash, which is a ankle strap that secures you to your board. The leash will save you from having to chase down the board when you wipe out.
2) The Right Board
Your first surfboard should be easy to handle and built to last until you are ready for something more advanced. The size and construction of the board are the two factors that impact the handling and durability the most. Longer and wider boards are much more stable. You should find a board that matches your size, however, even if you are small you will still want a board on the bigger side. As for construction, softboards, which are made of foam for extra buoyancy are good for true beginners. However, fast learners may want to consider an epoxy board, which consists of a foam core encased in epoxy resin. These boards are both buoyant and tough.
3) The Right Spot
The idea spot to learn to surf is the ocean equivalent of a kiddie pool: straight, sandy shoreline, free from hazardous rocks and reefs, with a few strategically placed sandbars. These conditions allow for waves to build, but not to overwhelming sizes. You will also likely avoid veteran surfers in these areas because the waves break up quickly. This means that you will not feel self-conscious or pressured while in the water. Veteran surfers can also be very territorial and often look at newcomers as a nuisance and a danger, which can be true. It is helpful to ask people where the place is very beginners wherever you go.
4) Get In Shape
Getting in shape makes it much easier to learn how to surf. Surfing is a whole-body surf, but certain muscle groups get worked much more than others. You need strong arms for paddling and core strength to pop up from lying on the board to standing. Balance is extremely important. If you want to be able to pop up and ride the waves you will need to have great balance to make your time in the water worthwhile.
5) Learn To Read The Weather
It is important to check surf reports and surf forecasts before you hit the beach. Surf reports and forecasts are readily available online or as a phone application. To apply the information, you will need to understand the key terms and some basic meteorology. Two important terms to understand are groundswells and windsells. Groundswells are high-energy waves, produced by strong winds far out at sea. Windswells, the products of local winds, are weaker. It is important to note that surf conditions are, in general, much less predictable than the weather.
6) Watch And Learn
You can learn a lot just by watching other surfers in the water. You should definitely take some time to observe from the beach before you get into the water yourself. Take note of physical features and objects, such as jetties, piers and fishing boats. Check for flags and signs that signal for hazardous conditions. You will also want to familiarize yourself with the line-up, which is the area offshore where surfers wait to catch waves. Avoid crossing the path between waiting surfers and the surf.
7) Obey Surfing Etiquette
Although it is an individual sport, surfing is very much a community where people share the waves. Learning and following the unwritten code of conduct is extremely important for beginners. It prevents accidents and shows that you respect your fellow surfers. For example, wait your turn in the lineup. It is also discouraged to catch a wave when another surfer is already riding it, so pay attention to what is going on around you.
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