As you know there is nothing that is a sure thing, When it comes to staying safe in the ocean, there are a few handy rules to live by. But for surfers, sometimes the quest for fun or excitement or (Gasp!) the need to impress your friends or some girls on the beach push seemingly intelligent folks into incredibly dangerous situations. Here are some easy guidelines to follow as you embark on your quest for a Zen surfing existence:
Make swimming skills and fitness a priorityBefore you even think about that first paddle out or that first pop-up, (the pop up is a cool concept, i was able to do it the first time i try surfing, but man it was hard!!!)you should have already established strong swimming skills. This doesn’t simply mean that you should be able to tread water. Treading water might keep you above water in a pool, but conditions in the ocean can quickly require real swimming strength to reach the edge of a rip current or propel yourself away from a cliff or rocks. Losing your board in heavy conditions can lead to all kinds of hairy situations and you will need all the strength and endurance you can muster.
While this sounds melodramatic, even the most experienced ocean goers have learned that a strong wind, prevailing current, or quickly rising swell can quickly take anyone by surprise. Therefore, overall surf fitness is the key. Spending time powering laps in the pool, long-distance cycling, or even nightly reps in the jump rope can make your surfing experience much safer and much more fruitful.
Study the Weather
Understanding how and why the ocean behaves the way it does and learning how forecast weather conditions can affect your surf safety and enjoyment are important for beginning surfers. For example, a simple drifting current in the lineup can catch an unsuspecting by surprise. Knowing what patterns cause drift and how quickly the water is moving can help you avoid getting caught under a pier, pushed up against a jetty, or at the very least, dragged 5 miles down the beach from your car.
Changes in wind and tide transform fun waves into a gnarly, unridable mess, so spend time listening to locals describe the conditions and pay close attention how different conditions affect the quality and safety of each session. You will find that you will learn how to not only stay safe but also get the best waves with the least effort. Surf smarter, not Harder (Okay, surfing hard is cool too).
- Time sets before paddling out
- Keep an eye on where the waves are breaking most consistently
- Watch the surfers in the lineup to see if they are drifting. If so, how fast and how much do they have to paddle to stay stationary.
- Ask a surfer who just got in about the conditions.
Always Know your Limits (extremly important)
As your surfing improves, you will want to challenge yourself in bigger and more radical waves, but you have to know when the conditions are too much. That means that sometimes, you may have to post up for a while and just watch or maybe head to a beach where the waves are breaking as hard or the bottom is deeper and softer.
Always be true to yourself and listen to your feelings. Luke Skywalker did it, and so did Ralph Macchio. Sure, there is an empty feeling when you miss the best day of the year at the best spot on the coast, but if your skills and fitness levels don’t match the swell and weather conditions, you will risk being seriously hurt or at least having a horrible session, so why even paddle out . Crowded waves make things worse, so it is best for everyone if beginning surfers avoid the mosh pit that a crowded, highly competitive session can become. Find a spot that better fits your skill set.
I love this sport!!! you have to try it just once in your life to undertand it, understand the culture and the people.
Originally posted 2012-10-02 11:54:11.