What are the biggest mistakes you can make? Discover our tips for a safe start on your own.
You made up your mind, you are going to learn how to surf without an instructor. Because the ocean can be a dangerous environment for an unsupervised beginner, read our advice for how to learn safely.
1. Before You Start
You are going to start surfing alone, but you still have some concerns: what if the waves are too big? Will I get past the impact zone? ... Relax, surfing is accessible for (almost) all people. However, to start safely, make sure that all the following requirements are met:
- Enthusiasm for surfing!
- Be in good health, and physically fit,
- Do not be afraid of water,
- Know how to swim confidently in the pool and in the sea,
- Be at ease in the water and in the waves (swim head under water, dive and stay a few seconds underwater)
If this sounds like you, read on to discover the best way to start surfing alone and safely.
2. Choose Your Surf Gear
Before you take to the water, you need to get the basic equipment. Here is a list of basic equipment you'll need to start.
- Leash Choosing the right surfboard is essential to evolve and improve while having fun.
What type and size of surfboard to choose?
Ideally, start with a foam board. A foam board has the ideal characteristics for a beginner to take off on the wave and enjoy the first sensations of surfing! It’s the ultimate board to learn the basics of surfing safely, and can be used by the whole family.
3. Safety: Start Surfing the Right Way
- Get information on weather conditions
Weather is an integral part of a surfer's life. A beginner will ideally start in small conditions with waves less than 1 meter. Don't overestimate your level. If the waves are too big you can get hurt and scared. Pay attention to tide schedules - some spots can become very dangerous at high tide, while at low tide there is no risk, and vice versa.
- Never surf alone
Although surfing is an individual (not team) sport, the ocean always has the last word. It is recommended that you surf in small groups, keeping an eye on each other. You will learn much faster by observing and asking other surfers for advice. Never forget that a lack of knowledge at sea can be fatal... Before you go surfing, always tell someone about your plans and what time you intend to return and which spot you chose.
- Protect yourself
In summer, with the increased temperature of the water, we tend to increase the duration of our sessions. In these conditions, the risks of sunburn is high: choose anti UV clothing or a shorty wetsuit, combined with sunscreen. In winter, wear a thicker and longer wetsuit to protect yourself from the cold. In some spots you might have to buy different wetsuits depending on the time of the year - to protect you from the sun, or the cold.
More than half of the accidents in the water involve a collision between the surfer's head and his surfboard. These risks of accidents become even higher when there are a lot of people in the water... Wear a helmet!
- Learn the rules of priority
Like the highway code for cars, surfing also has its rules to avoid accidents between surfers. For example, the most well-known: the surfer who is surfing the wave has priority. You will find all the priority rules here.
- Attend some classes in a surf club
To accelerate your learning curve, master the right techniques and avoid hurting yourself, we recommend that you take a few hours of lessons with a surf instructor. This will guide you step by step to find the right paddling position, to stand up, and correct or avoid mistakes.
4. Learn to Surf in 5 Steps
- BECOME FAMILIAR WITH WATER AND WAVES If you have never set foot on a surfboard or had the opportunity to jump in the waves, we advise you first to get familiar with the ocean. Observe the tide rises or falls, the direction of the current, the size of the waves... Then get in the water and have fun: dive under the wave, jump, swim and try sliding on your stomach - we call this body surfing! The best idea is to start with a bodyboard to enjoy the first sensations of gliding with a wave, otherwise lie on the back of your board, with your back to the waves in the white water and let yourself slide. Isn't that fantastic?
- GOOFY/REGULAR: WHAT IS YOUR FRONT FOOT?Like skateboarding or snowboarding, surfing is practiced standing sideways, with one foot in front of the other. It is important to know this before getting into the water, just to give you an idea of where to begin!
- LEARN TO PADDLE EFFECTIVELY A good paddling technique is essential in surfing and depends on two factors, the position on the board and the movement of the arms. First of all, lie down on the board so that it is as flat as possible. Avoid putting too much weight on the back or on the front of the board - this creates resistance when paddling, or if you’re too far forward you will fall over the nose of the board. The ideal paddle position is with your chin, neck and torso raised, to lighten the front of the board and increase your speed. To catch the wave, you will have to be committed and have only one goal: to make a short but intense effort, "as if your life depended on it". To paddle properly, you must have regular movements, cup your hands firmly. Move your hand into the water with as little splashing as possible and push it vigorously behind you. To increase your physical abilities and technique, swim regularly in the pool, especially front crawl.
- HOW TO GET PAST THE IMPACT ZONE TO REACH THE PEAK? To get to the peak (where the waves are breaking), don't try to paddle towards it directly. Firstly, you may bother another surfer and secondly, you may hurt or exhaust yourself- all the waves will come straight to you and break on your head, so it is recommended to bypass this area. When a wave breaks or white water comes towards you, and it is not possible to avoid, you have two solutions: the duck-dive or the turtle roll. With a foam surfboard or a longboard, because of their large volume, opt for the turtle roll. Sitting on the board, cross your legs from below, and grip the rails firmly with your hands to turn upside down. Stay in this position, until the white water passes over you. Once the wave has passed, try to pull your board close to your chest as much as possible, quickly get back on it and paddle! With a shorter board, try the duck-dive. The manoeuvre allows the surfer and his board to pass under the wave, without getting pushed back each time.
- LEARN TO STAND UP (TAKE OFF) The ultimate and most difficult step to become a "real surfer" is the take-off that allows you to stand up and start surfing. Once on the wave, place your hands on the board at shoulder level. Raise your head, chest, and arms all at once to allow the legs to bend and stand. Stay bent, back straight and always look in the direction you want to go. Enjoy your ride!