7 Surfing Tips For Beginners

mack prioleau

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.

For more information, please check out this article.

The Bloukrans Bridge Bungee Jump

Mack Prioleau

The Bloukrans Bridge Bungee is the world’s highest commercial bridge bungee at 707 feet above the Bloukrans River. The jump is situated at the Bloukrans Bridge on N2 Highway at the border between the Eastern Cape and Western Cape along South Africa’s Garden Route. The bungee jump is open 365 days a year and almost all weather conditions.

History

The Bloukrans River Bridge became the first African bridge for bungee jumping back in 1990. Since 1997, Face Adrenalin has operated the Bloukrans Bridge Bungee accident free.

World Records

There are a number of world records associated with Bloukrans Bridge. The following world records achieved at this location include:

  • Mohr Keet became the oldest person to bungee jump when he jumped from the Bloukrans Bridge on April 6, 2010 at the age of 96 years old.
  • Scott Huntly broke the world record for the most bungee jumps in a day when he jumped from the Bloukrans Bridge 107 times in nine hours. Scott completed this record on May 11, 2011 in an effort to raise funds for local communities.
  • Veronica Dean-Boschoff set a world record for achieving 19 jumps in a one hour span on May 9, 2002.

Famous Visitors

The Bloukrans Bridge attracts adrenaline seekers from all over the world. Face Adrenaline has played host to the following visitors:  Prince Harry, Jack Osbourne, Thabo Mbeki, the Zuma family, Bobby Skinstad, Hansie Cronje, Fanie De Villiers, Kelly Slater, Andy Irons and The Amazing Race.

If you are up for an adrenaline rush then you need to take a trip to the Bloukrans Bridge. Check out some photos from my bungee jump below.

 

Table Mountain Sunrise Summit

Table Mountain Sunrise: Mack Prioleau

Last week a group of my Vanderbilt friends and I hiked Table Mountain for sunrise. We took the Platteklip Gorge route, which overlooks the Cape Town for the whole hike. The hike was tough and long (about 1.5-2 hours) but was well worth it once at the top. We summited right at 5:30 in time for first light and enjoyed the breathtaking views for a few hours before taking the cable car down. Thankfully the cable car was running this time.

The Platteklip is the most direct route to the top of the mountain, making it extremely difficult. However, the path is well constructed, with stone steps and anti-erosion gabions. But this route is by far the most steep, so it is recommended to give yourself some time to get up. The views while ascending the mountain are spectacular, which certainly makes it worth your time to stop and take in your surroundings.

Witnessing the views from the top of Table Mountain for the sunrise was certainly worth the effort. Watching the city of Cape Town begin to wake up and come to life while looking down from above is a pretty surreal experience.

Table Mountain is an amazing hike at any time of the day, as it provides amazing views of both the city, coastline, and the unique plants to the area. To put it in perspective, there are more plant species on Table Mountain then there are in the entire United Kingdom. While hiking up the mountain, you are likely to encounter rock hyraxes, colorful lizards and a variety of birdlife.

Check out some of the pictures of our hike up Table Mountain below.

  • Table Mountain Sunrise: Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau

  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
  • Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau
    Table Mountain - Mack Prioleau

Hiking Lion’s Head In Cape Town, South Africa

Lions Head (1) Mack Prioleau

Lion’s Head is a mountain in Cape Town, South Africa, located between Table Mountain and Signal Hill. Lion’s Head, which peaks at 2,195 feet, is a great half-day hike that provides amazing views of the city of Cape Town and the Atlantic Seaboard.

Originally, the Dutch settlers had named the peak Leeuwen Kop (Lion’s Head) and it’s counterpart, Signal Hill, was referred to as Leeuqen Staart (Lion’s Tail). The two mountains the the space between them closely resembles a crouching lion or a sphinx.

The composition of the mountain, from the rocks to the flowers is both equally beautiful and interesting to observe. The lower portion of Lion’s Head was formed by the Cape Granite and the Malmesbury formation, while the upper peak consists of flat-lying sandstone.

While hiking Lion’s Head, you will be sure to see some people paragliding off the mountain. The slopes and idea wind conditions make it a very popular launching point for the paragliders as you can see in the video below.

The mountain has unique and rich biodiversity, with three main types that are vegetation that can only be found in Cape Town. Granite Fynbos, an endangered vegetation, can be found all along the hike. Peninsula Shale Renosterveld, which is critically endangered, can be found on the lower slopes towards Signal Hill. Sandstone Fynbos, which is also endangered, can be found on the summit of Lion’s Head.

The hike takes a few hours and can be quite challenging. The climb begins at Signal Hill Road, at the base of Forestry Road and winds around the head to a section with chains. The chains have been added to assist climbers over the steep, rocky section of the mountain. You can bypass the route with chains and take an alternative route, but this climb is challenging as well.

Check out some pictures from my hike up Lion’s Head here:

  • Lions Head (1) Mack Prioleau
    Lions Head (2) Mack Prioleau
    Lions Head (3) Mack Prioleau

  • Lions Head (4) Mack Prioleau
    Lions Head (5) Mack Prioleau

 

Garden Route: South Africa

The Garden Route: Mack Prioleau

The Garden Route is the stretch of land that goes from Cape Town all the way up to Port Elizabeth. It is known for its scenery along with all the activity opportunities on the way.

We started our trip late Wednesday morning and drove four hours to our first stop, Mossel Bay. Because we got there relatively late in the afternoon we did not do much other than check out the town and the beach. We stayed at a hostel called Santos Express, which is actually an old train that has been stripped and made into a hostel. For dinner we ate at a braai restaurant called Kaai 4, where we all got meat platters and had a great meal.

Thursday was Heritage Day in South Africa, which is the reason we did not have school. We woke up on Heritage Day and drove to Wilderness, a town about 45 minutes east of Mossel Bay. In Wilderness, we rented canoes to go “kloofing” for the day. Kloofing is an African term for canyoning, which is pretty much canoeing up a river canyon, cliff jumping, swimming, etc. We canoed up the Touws River for 45 to the Cappuccino Canyon where we hiked to a swimming hole where we swam and cliff jumped. When we finished our kloofing trip, we drove to Sedgefield and surfed a little bit at sundown at the beach outside our hostel, Afrovibe. For dinner we celebrated Heritage Day, which is also National Braai Day by having a braai at the hostel.

Friday morning I woke up at sunrise and drove to Victoria Bay to surf. Victoria Bay is a nice little beach community that has a great right point break. When done surfing, I went back to the hostel to pick people up and drive to Jeffreys Bay, the surfing mecca of South Africa. It was a two and a half hour drive from Sedgefield and once we got there we went straight to SuperTubes, the location of the Billabong Pro, to check out the waves. I got in the water but unfortunately slashed my foot open on a mussel and immediately got out of the water in fear of white sharks after seeing what happened to Mick Fanning literally at the same place. The cut on my foot ended the surfing aspect of the trip for me and I was unable to surf J Bay, which was what I was most excited about.

Saturday we woke up and went to Bloukrans Bridge to bungee jump, which is the highest bungee bridge in the world at 216 meters. We all jumped and enjoyed the great views from the bridge. in the afternoon we went to an elephant park where we played with the elephants for a little bit before driving to Knysna for the night. We stayed at an Airbnb at Knysna before waking up early Sunday to make the long trip back.

Bungee Jumping: Mack Prioleau

All of the activities on the Garden Route were great such as surfing, bungee, and kloofing, but the drives we had were just as great. It seemed like we drove through different seasons and countries as there were so many different beautiful landscapes on the way from alpine forests to mountains to beaches to fields. The views were amazing and always changing.

Victoria Falls & The Gorge Swing

Victoria Falls: Mack Prioleau

Victoria Falls

Victoria Falls, also known as Mosi-oa-Tunya, is a waterfall located in South Africa on the Zambezi River. It is truly one of the most spectacular natural wonders of the world. Measuring up to 107 meters in height and dropping an average of 550,000 cubic meters of water every minute, the thunder from the falling water is loud, expressing its power to all of those in the surrounding area. The waterfall is 1,708 meters wide, making it the largest curtain of water in the world.

The falls has been declared a National Park and a World Heritage Site, which has helped preserve the area from excessive commercialization or destruction.

We visited Victoria Falls during September, which is when the dry season begins to take effect. The dry season lasts until January and during this time the islets on the crest become wider and more numerous.

When flood season comes around, it is impossible to see the foot of the falls and most of its face. The spray from the falls rises to a height of over 300 meters and sometimes as high as 600 meters.

Gorge Swing – Victoria Falls from Mack Prioleau on Vimeo.

While visiting the falls, we went to the Gorge Swing which is suspended across the gorge. It is about a 70 meter free fall into a 85 meter long pendulum swing. It was an incredible adrenaline rush and offered a unique perspective of the river and the gorge.