If you are thinking of learning to surf here is some essential information for you-
Boards- If you’ve never surfed before you’re going to need something fairly big to give you stability and added momentum, most people start on fun boards by Bic or NSP, generally they’re sized over 7ft. Once you have the hang of riding along a wave, and feel comfortable, you’re going to want to downsize to something with more manoeuvrability.
Wetsuits- Ultimately it’s about warmth and flexibility and finding the perfect balance, you can’t really go wrong with the major well known surf manufacturers. If you’re surfing in England, you’ll need a 3-2 for summer, a 4-3 for autumn and spring and a 5-3 with boots, gloves and hood for winter (if you dare).
Conditions and Seasons- Generally Europe gets its biggest and best swells through Winter, though this also means the water and air temperatures are cold. Summer is warmer in the water but all that high pressure means we rarely get any decent waves. You can get a 5-7 day surf forecast from the web. You’re looking for mellow winds that blow from land to sea (offshore) and decent swells. An ideal size for learning is 2-3ft.
Locations- The UK does get some great surf but you need to know where to go and when. Generally it takes some driving. Cornwall, Devon, Wales, Scotland, the North East and Ireland all get waves. There are Guide books out there that go into more detail on specific beaches and the conditions that they favour.
Respect, Etiquette and Safety- Always respect those around you particularly local surfers who will not be happy if you ‘drop-in’ on their waves, to avoid this if you’re paddling for a wave and considering riding it, look down the wave to ensure there’s no one on it. The person nearest the breaking section of the wave always gets priority. If there are crowds of people in the water it’s probably not a great place to practice. Also avoid jumping off your board to dive under oncoming waves, learn how to ‘duck-dive’ or roll, and if you do need to dive off look behind you to make sure no one’s going to get a board in their mush.
Surf schools- There are a lot of surf schools in the UK that offer a variety of packages to suit. If you’ve not surfed before it’s well worth the money as they’ll take care of equipment, take you to a suitable spot and teach you the fundamentals. Always make sure the school is BSA approved with BSA qualified instructors.
Hope this helps!
Learning to Surf
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2 April 2008
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