So you’ve decided to give surfing a go. Fantastic!
Here are some tips to make sure you are keeping yourself safe while learning how to surf.
Always go with an experienced AND more importantly a qualified surf coach. We say this because you must understand the fundamentals of wave formation, rips, currents and technique before you even step into the water.
Surf etiquette. Give way to other surfers who have priority. The best way to determine if someone has priority over you in the waves is this. If the wave is breaking right and a person gets on they wave you are going for and they are on your left – they have priority. Similarly – if the wave is breaking left and you are going for it but someone on your right is already on it – then they have priority. This is the biggest rule of surfing and it will ensure the vibe remains chill in the surf. Showing manners on the waves to more experienced surfers will mean the next time a good wave comes along – they will probably let you take it out of courtesy.
How comfortable are you in waves? If you are not comfortable in turbulent water. DO NOT SURF IN GERUPUK BAY. The waves here are big and can be unpredictable with king-waves (unusually large waves) coming through now and again and cleaning everyone up.
Make sure you understand how to roll-over on your board. When a wave comes toward you – you will be in one of 3 positions. Behind the breaking wave, in front of the breaking wave or under the lip of the breaking wave. If you are behind the breaking wave – no worries you are not in the danger zone. If you are in front of the wave where the wave is going to break on you or the whitewash is going to hit you – then make sure you understand how to roll over so the wave passes over your board/takes the impact of the wave.
The universal sign for help whilst in the water is a clenched fist waving around madly.
Once you get a wave – paddle around the wave (in the area where the waves is not breaking) to get back out to the back.
If you ride a wave all the way in – be careful with how you get off your board. The water can be really shallow so if you jump in feet first you could be jumping straight into sharp rocks and reef. If you can slowly get back onto your chest and paddle out to deep water that is the best option. If you are going to fall – fall flat (widest surface area of your body) so that you do not hit the bottom.
Hydrate before you go surfing. If you are going for an early morning surf – drink a glass or two of water before you go to sleep. This will ensure your body is hydrated in the morning and you don’t have to drink lots of water before going out and surfing. Take a bottle of water with you in the boat and leave it in the boat while you surf. You will want it when you finish!
If you get sea sick – then its also better not to have breakfast before you surf. Have a lollie as an alternative to give you the sugar hit without giving you something to throw up if you do get sick.
Wear sunscreen whenever you are surfing. The sun may not feel like its hot – but the UV index here is almost always in the extreme range. Protect your skin with a t-shirt or rashvest and sunscreen.
Do warm-ups before you go for a surf. You will find a great article on warm-ups here;
If you have time and have booked a surf trip and are not the most athletic person. We recommend you start doing some yoga just to stretch your body. Yoga will prepare your body for the various positions its put in when in the waves. Failure to do so (if you know you are someone who is not generally active) will result in you getting injured or hurt.
Remember your manners when you are out in the surf and if a more experienced surfer (some of them are very arrogant and outright dick-heads) gets angry at you. Apologise and ask them what you did wrong. This will defuse the situation. Do not let someone elses bad attitude scare you from the waves. The waves are for everyone and if anyone tells you to ‘piss off’ or ‘you shouldn’t be there’ tell your guide. No one can tell you that and the locals will make sure that he person is looked after (most of the time these sorts will be asked to leave the wave)
HAVE FUN. Laugh. Sing. Have fun out in the waves. Cheer when you see another beginner stand up. It’s all part of what we call the Stoke and happiness is contagious so don’t be shy.