Getting started

Who to Surf With / Finding a Partner : -
One of the most important things to have in learning to surf is someone to surf with. Aside from the safety reasons, a partner will give moral support, keep you stoked when you get frustrated, keep you informed when its good, talk you into paddling out when it´s big, and mostly be a friend.

Finding the right person makes every difference in how far you eventually progress. A surfer is on his own in the water, sure, however surfing is simply safer and more fun with friends, especially if they are close to your own skill level. There are the added bonuses of sharing expenses and sharing the responsibility for each other´s safety in the water.

Two schools of thought on who you surf with are : -
A)
Find someone good to teach you to surf.
B)Find someone else who wants to learn and teach each other.


Where to Surf : -
Go to your nearest surf shop and ask people where a good break to learn is. Be honest about your abilities, surfers are a pretty friendly lot.

Generally speaking you should stick to beachbreaks that break over sand. Some beachbreaks are dangerous, so caution needs to be exercised. Use common sense. Seas are dynamic, often rapidly changing places - what may be perfect for beginner surfers now, may not be so in six months, next week, or even an hour from now. Take advice of any lifeguards or experienced surfers around.

What sort of beach break to look for? Places where the waves roll towards shore, rather than rearing up and breaking violently. Plunging waves can be dangerous, even over sand bottoms. When you are expert plunging waves are the ones you will seek out, but in the early stages, avoid them.

Waves need not be particularly good. You´re learning the basics of catching waves and being balanced on your board, and to learn those basics any wave will do. Staying with waves the experts ignore will pay off big time in the first stages of your surfing career - you´ll get all the waves you want and will therefore advance much more rapidly.


How to stand up : -


Pop up : -
A pop-up takes you from lying prone on your surfboard to standing position. To practice this draw a surfboard in the sand, tape one out on the floor, or put your surfboard across your bed. First you need to figure out if you´re goofy or regular foot.

Stand with both feet together at attention and get someone to gently push you forward. Usually the foot you step forward with will be your power (back) foot on the surfboard. Right foot back is regular, and left back is goofy foot.

Stance : -
A good stance is spreading your feet as wide as is comfortable. Both feet centered on the stringer and at 90 degrees to the stringer. Do not stand straight up on your surfboard, your center of gravity will be so high you are sure to fall over fast. Create the lowest center of gravity possible by bending your knees.

Your hands should stretch forward and backward along the line of the stringer to help stabilize you further. In order to stay centered on the board your feet and shoulders should stay centered over the surfboard´s stringer.

Now lay flat on your surfboard, or surfboard model.
Place your hands beside your chest like your going to do a pushup.
Take your power foot and roll it over on your inside ankle.
Let the hip above your power foot roll up off the board.
Keeping your power foot back,
Push your chest off the board and start bringing your front foot up beneath you.

This should take you in one continuous motion from a prone position to two feet on the board . If you go to your knees in the middle of the pop-up, you will not be able to make the bottom turn and your surfing will not progress. As you become more practiced, your motion will become smoother and more fluid. You will learn how to end your popup stably planted on your board without putting your hands on the board to balance.


How to catch waves: -


Getting in the Water: -
Sit and watch the surf for a while. Watch what people are doing. Where is everybody sitting, where do they paddle out. Where do the waves break? As waves get bigger they break further out, so if everyone is sitting farther out than where the waves are currently breaking, it means that there are bigger sets coming. Watch for them.

Stretch:
While you´re watching the break, stretch your arms and back. Limber up.

You´ve noted where other people head out. Wax your board and head down to that spot. Put your leash on your back leg. Walk your board out until the water is about waist deep and hop on. Position yourself on the board so that the nose is just barely (2-3") out of the water. Too little and you´ll be going under, too much and you´ll wear yourself out pushing water.


Paddling / Paddle-out: -
Paddling efficiently is an essential part of surfing. If you can´t paddle well, you can´t get out to the surf and you can´t catch a wave. Go for even, alternating strokes.

When you have to get through the whitewater get up some speed and then either:
Plow right through it.
Raise your chest up with your arms so that the water passes between you and the board.
Turtle: Just as the wave is about to hit you, roll over on your back (roll the board too), and pull the nose of the board down. Then roll back up.
Duck-dive: Raise up on one knee, push the nose of the board under the wave and follow with your body. (This takes lots of practice)
Bail:Get off your board, and dive for the bottom. This is for emergencies only. You lose a great deal of distance this way, and you endanger people around you.

You need to find your sweet spot, which means you have to find the position of balance on your board where you are neither too far forward or back. If you are too far forward your board will pearl end over end every time. If you are too far back, the submerged tail of your board creates drag and you lose efficiency. Lay prone on your surfboard in the water and extend your arms out to either side. Adjust your body forward or back to make the board float very close to level.

Keep your feet together and begin an overhand crawl. Create a slow deliberate rhythm and work your breathing pattern into to the paddling rhythm. Fully extend your arms and dig deep. Shallow, short strokes will get you nowhere. The smoother your paddling technique the less energy you will expend for any distance traveled.


Duck Diving: -
Duckdiving is to get you through a wave that you can´t paddle around or over, while losing as little gained distance as possible to the shoreward motion of the wave.

Carry maximum momentum paddling toward and up to the wave. Lay prone on your board and as the trough of the wave approaches lift your chest high off the board. Drive the nose of your board as deep into the water as possible with as much force as you can. As the wave passes over you, transfer your weight from the nose of the board to the back using your foot and pulling up on the nose. Depending on your positioning and momentum, it may take little to make you rise up through the backside of the wave and continue paddling down into the trough beyond.


Sitting On Your Board: -
Lie on your surfboard in the paddling position. When you are comfortably balanced, take hold of the board with each hand on the rail as if you were getting ready to do a push up. Draw the board from underneath you, pulling it forward through your legs. As the board is sliding underneath you bring your knees up and arch your back into a sitting position. As with everything else in surfing, it is a question of practising balance.

To smoothly sit up on your surfboard as the waves roll past takes practice. Use your legs out on either side of the surfboard to aid your balance and hold yourself upright. Lean too far to the left or right and you will fall off your board. Lean too far forward and the surfboard will disappear out behind your. Lean too far back and we encounter the torpedo effect again. It is not too hard to master this, but it takes practice to become competent at getting into the sitting position.


Catching a Wave, Beginner on shoreline reformed waves: -
Choose a wave, turn your board toward the shore and paddle as hard as you can toward the shore. As the wave hits your feet take 2 or 3 more strong strokes and as the whitewater gets to your chest you will feel the wave take over pushing you. This is your big chance. Popup and remember your stance. If you stand straight up, you will fall straight over, like it is a law.


The line-up: -
The lineup is where you wait to catch waves, just a little outside of where they break. Most surfers sit on their boards and face offshore to watch for incoming waves. Because different size waves will break closer to shore and further out, your point of take off will vary on any given wave. When a set comes in, your position in the lineup will dictate wether you can go for a wave. If the surfers close by you have been waiting longer than you or not, will dictate if you should go for a wave or not.


Catching a Wave, Novice: -
Once in the lineup beyond the impact zone keep an eye toward the incoming waves. You may be outside where the waves normally break, but cleanup sets can surprise you and leave you inside and next in line for a pounding, not to mention having to paddle back out without a ride.

Choose a wave that looks like it will be steep enough to ride and you think will break close to you. On beach breaks the takeoff point will vary back and forth and takes a bit of luck to start with. Paddle hard and fast to match the speed of the incoming wave as closely as you are able.

As the trough of the wave seems to fall out from in front of you the wave will start to grab you. This is the moment of truth. If you can make it onto the face of the wave, take another stroke or two, pop up and ride down the face. If the wave is going to break out from under you, back stroke with both hands to pull yourself onto the back of the wave and turn and paddle back out, keeping a close eye on the next incoming wave. It may have your name on it.


Types of Surf Break: -


The challenge of surfing is that every wave is different. The three main types of wave are;-

Beach Break: -
A Beach Break is where the waves break on a sandy seabed. This type of wave is the best to start surfing on. A good example of a classic beach break is Hossegor in Southern France which can hold perfect barrels up to 20´.

Point Break: -
A Point Break is a wave that breaks onto a rocky point. An example of a Pointbreak is Bells Beach in Australia

Reef Break: -
A Reef Break is a wave that breaks over a coral reef or a rock seabed. These waves are usually the classic ones you see in surfing videos. These waves can be unforgiving if you happen to wipe out badly, but can be the most rewarding in their perfection. Cloudbreak is a superb example of a Reef Break.

NB. A Rivermouth wave can break over rocky ledges or sandy bottoms. A fine example is the all time classic Margaret River.


Lefts, Rights & Peaks: -
A wave is either a Left or a Right depending on the direction the wave breaks from the point of view of a surfer paddling and riding the wave. Paddling to catch a wave, if it is breaking from right to left (the surfer will have to turn left to get on the wave) then this wave is a left. From the beach the wave will be seen to breaking to the right. A right is the opposite to a left.

A peak is a wave that breaks forming a rideable wave both left and right, two surfers can surf it at the same time in different directions.


Wind; Onshore, Offshore & Cross Shore : -

An Onshore Windis the worst wind for surfing. It blows from out to sea and ensures all the waves crumble and have no shape, making the waves un-surfable.

A Cross Shoreis not desirable either, not giving shape to the waves.

An Offshore Windis the best wind for surfing. It ensures that the waves rolling in are well formed and break cleanly. Quality waves come with an offshore wind.


The Rules: -


Don´t Drop In: -
The surfer who is closest to the breaking part of the wave has priority. If a surfer is up and riding then this is also their wave. If two surfers are going for the same wave and it is not clear who has the inside, then it is down to who is on their feet first.


Don´t Snake: -
In the lineup, if you paddle around someone who is in position and get deeper in position than they are to take their wave you have snaked the other surfer.


Paddling Out: -
When paddling out, if you must get over a wave that someone is riding, paddle behind them (the white water side). This generally means getting stuffed for the sake of someone else´s ride. Take comfort in the hope that they would do the same for you. Do not paddle in front of someone unless you are so sure that you will be at least 20 feet in front of them.


Respect the Locals: -
Respect the regulars at all breaks. They wait long periods for good swell and then face crowds when the swells arrive.
Surfersvillage partners provide more info on Surfing-Waves


Surfersvillage - Learn to Surf.

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