Although surfing gurus like Stephanie Gilmore and Layne Beachley are able to jump on a surfboard in a string bikini, in reality the rest of us should consider either sports or training swimwear with a rash vest or a wet suit. Let’s face it, when you spend more time in the water than on the board, you need to be comfortable.
Like other beach activities, surfing requires very little with regard to equipment – see below for more information – and there are no additional fees (green fees, court hire etc), so surfing makes for a cheap pastime.Below we’ve outlined considerations for the novice surfer before catching that first wave.
The ocean is a vast and beautiful, natural wonder. To surf happily and safely requires some knowledge about how the ocean works. There are also the unwritten laws of surfing – the etiquette. While the waves, rips, and tides can be unpredictable and ever changing, there’s nothing worse than a surfer out there who is too.
Etiquette is generally a combination of common sense, plain good sportsman-ship and safety. Don’t be inclined to be a wave hog, and you won’t alienate yourself from your fellow surfers.
Other beach and surf dangers can be unhidden rocks, sting-rays the jellyfish and the sharks. The ocean is there to share, and in reality the chances of a shark attack are less likely than a car accident on your way to the beach. Try not to let your fear of sharks stop you from attempting to surf.
Size matters! For the beginner surfer, the bigger the board, the better. You’ll need to start with the biggest board you can carry. A big, soft board will provide great buoyancy and the ability to stand up is maximized on a large board.
Should you begin to enjoy your surfing, and then start to surf more regularly, you will quickly grow out of the long, soft board. Look out for second-hand boards or hire them until you know whether surfing is something you’re going to continue with.
What else do I need?
Depending on your country, the water temperature can get cold. In this case board-shorts or bikinis may not keep you warm enough. A wet suit may be a smart investment, especially for the beginner who will spend more time in the water than on it.
A leg rope or leesh is necessary so you and your board hang tight. The leesh will come with a leesh-cord and you will need to attach this to your board.
Surfboard wax. This is a wax applied to your board to stop you from slipping off while paddling out on your board and while surfing on top of your board. Wax is required by surfers whose boards do not have a traction pad and you will need to re-apply wax after each surfing session.
Where to surf?
Beginners could do worse than starting their surfing career with a lesson from a surf school. You can be confident that the instructors will make certain to take you into waves for newbies, waves with few obstacles or crazy rips.
Once you’ve got an idea of the basics, you should look for small breaking waves. Keep safety in mind at all times and remember surfing should be fun!
The privilege of actually sitting in the great ocean with or without waves is something that should be enjoyed and appreciated. The ability to catch and then ride a wave is the bonus.
Learning to surf and then to surf well can take much practice and perseverance. Remember to enjoy the experience as well, and you’ll find yourself making surfing a priority.