Are you thinking of squeezing into a wetsuit and taking the plunge with a surfboard this summer? If so, there may be some surprises waiting for you before you even get to ride bombs (big waves) or snappers (small waves). Here’s our list of the top ten things you need to know.
1. There’s no age limit to surfing
You can start surfing at any age. “The younger you start the easier it is to learn - but you are never too old,” says Scott Marshall, a surf instructor at Bude Surfing Experience. “We teach anyone from as young as five-year-olds and have even had an 84-year-old surfing.”
2. Bikinis and surfboards don’t mix
Hollywood might have you believe that it’s perfectly normal to surf in a bikini, but just try it and you’ll quickly want to cover up. Constant wipe-outs and climbing back on to the surfboard as well as just sitting on it waiting for a wave can rub your skin in some uncomfortable places, so wear a wetsuit. Once you become a pro however, you may opt for ‘boardies’ all the way – even in our UK Summer’s…
3. Wetsuits are tricky beasts
One of the hardest parts of your surfing lesson will happen before you even get in the water. “It is surprisingly difficult to get into a wetsuit when putting one on for the first time,” says Marshall. “It feels very strange at first because it sucks everything in.” On the plus side, once you’ve wriggled into it your wetsuit will protect your skin and keep you warm. It also does a good job of tucking in any unsightly bulges!
4. It can change your life
When you first take to the waves with your surfboard you’ll be lying down, but you’ll be amazed how quickly you can get to your feet. “Often, after just one lesson we see students standing up and actually riding waves,” says Darren Burrett, head coach at Surf South West. “It’s worth every struggling moment to persevere because the first time you successfully catch a wave, it’s a life-changing moment.”
5. Snowboarding won’t help you
Many first-time surfers believe that their experience of ‘surfing on snow’ with a snowboard will mean they take to surfing like a duck to water. It isn’t the case. In fact, snowboarding experience can be a hindrance as your feet are strapped to the board. In surfing making small adjustments to your position on the board with your feet is essential while many snowboarders have to overcome their instinct to keep their feet rooted to the board.
6. Keep your mouth closed
We don’t mean about the best surfing spots, although you may not want to share them when you find them. Keeping your mouth closed is a lesson most students learn the hard way because you will spend a lot of time wiping out and keeping your mouth closed could just help stop you from swallowing a lot of sea water.
7. You can surf in the shallows
“You don’t need to go any further than waist deep to catch waves,” says Marshall. “If you paddle straight out to sea without knowing the beach you can get into trouble especially if you don’t know how the currents work. The waves can knock you back and take you sideways. It is important to keep your feet on the ground when you are not catching waves because rips can take you out to sea.”
8. Choosing the right wave is harder than standing up
Standing up and learning to ride a wave is the easy part. “Knowing which wave to catch is difficult without experience,” says Marshall. Eventually you will learn to judge which are the ones to ride and those you should avoid.
Catching your first wave is an amazing experience; from that moment you’re hooked. So the only thing left is for you to get out there and give it a go! Remember to persevere and keep at it- but most importantly, enjoy!