Are you a beginner surfer? Learning to surf requires dedication, motivation and, above all, a lot of practice! Rules, surfing techniques and weather forecasts: discover how to start surfing the right way, so you can improve safely, quickly and have fun on your new surfboard!
Rules for Surfing
- Respect the Principle: "Only One Surfer Per Wave"
This is one of the most basic safety rules: only one surfer takes the wave in order to avoid collisions with others and injuries.
But which surfer has priority? The one who's already on the wave! What if he's not riding the wave yet? Then it’s the surfer who is closest to the peak! Whats the peak? The place where the wave begins to break and turns into white foam! Ok...so how do I know who is closest to the peak? Your eyes will tell you! Always look around you and your eyes will tell you what to do!
- Avoid Interfering with a Surfer Who is Already on a Wave
Priority is given to the person surfing the wave. Stay away from his/her path so you won't force him/her to slalom around. If possible, stay away from the peak - on the shoulder when you are paddling out. If it’s not possible to get to the right position, too bad, paddle towards the white water. Why? Because that’s the right thing to do. Yes, if you find yourself on a surfer's path and your only option is to go to the foam and get shaken around, do it. How would you feel if you were the surfer and your wave was interrupted because someone didn’t want to get their hair wet?
- Do Not Surf in the Swimming Area
Every summer, surfers collide with swimmers. In most countries, there are designated swimming areas - in different places the area is marked with blue flags. It is forbidden to surf inside this zone for the safety of the swimmers who are there. At the very least, a fine awaits the careless surfer who ventures into the swimming area, at worst - a serious accident.
It is true that many patrolled beaches suffer from the frustrating syndrome of a perfect peak in the bathing area, and it hurts...but the beach is for everyone - and sometimes we have to share!
- Do Not Fight the Current
Fighting the current is a waste of energy! If you feel you are getting carried away, don’t panic! Let the current carry you and once out of the trouble zone, say calm. You want to paddle out of the current, parallel to shore, along the beach and then follow breaking waves back to the shore at an angle.
- How to Make a Success of Your First Surfing Sessions
From the warm up on the beach, to the position to adopt on the surfboard and your paddling technique, learn more about our recommendations to start surfing the right way!
Leave nothing to chance and take the time to prepare well your first session, in order to progress effectively, make sure you have:
- An appropriate size of surfboard according to your skill level and the size of wave you surf.
- A suitable wetsuit
- A good leash
- The right wax
Choose from our experts' video tutorials to learn about the right practices, such as:
- warm-up before surfing: essential!
- which foot is your front foot on your surfboard
- the surfing position
- the first surf paddle
- the first time in the water while surfing
- your first take-off on a beginner surfboard
Beginner Surfers: When and Where to go Surfing
Read and understand surf forecasts
- the swell: it defines the size of the waves. To start, settle for waves less than 1 m;
- wind: too much wind can have a negative effect on the waves. But offshore wind (blowing from land to sea) is excellent for surfing, because it carves and smooths the waves. The onshore wind (blowing from the sea to the land) on the other hand, is a wind that comes from the ocean. It flattens the waves and forms an unpleasant chop. A light offshore wind gives favourable conditions. As a rule, too much wind is never good for surfing. Too much offshore wind and you’ll be stuck at the top of the wave, too much onshore wind and the water will be too choppy and messy.
- the tide: generally, a rising tide brings better conditions to surf. But there are no fixed rules: ask the local surfers to find out how the spot works. Otherwise, check beforehand on the websites that describe the spot or in the guides such as Stormrider.
- the period: an essential and totally new concept for the beginner surfer! The period is the time, measured in seconds, between 2 waves, and this will also affect power of the wave. A small period will mean the space between the waves is not very much, they will be less big and the waves less powerful, but the waiting time will be shorter. A big period means a larger space between waves and more powerful waves. Out in the ocean, the waves organise themselves in to sets - groups of 2-8 waves that are a little bigger than the rest of the waves rolling in to shore. A higher period means that these sets will be bigger, but also… a longer wait! Sometimes there is a wait of 20mins + between sets! But there will also be smaller waves in the meantime. A short period will mean the sets will be closer together but not so big or well organised. The ideal period is around 10 seconds.
- the season: autumn and spring are the best seasons to surf in France. There is more swell and a mainly off-shore winds. In summer, there is much less swell: you can spend a week waiting for waves.
To be sure of good weather conditions, take a look at the webcams before going to the spot! To find them, type the name of the city or the spot plus "HD webcam" in a search engine.
Different Types of Waves for Beginner Surfers
Learn the terms
Foam / white water: best friend of the beginner, you can stay within your depth, close to the shore, and then catch the foam in order to learn how to position yourself well on your board and to carry out your first take-off.
Beach break: These are the most accessible and the most frequented type of waves. Waves form on pebble or sand beaches in different places and re-form quickly. In other words, it's a spot where the waves break on a sandy bottom.
Point break: this wave always starts from the same place and breaks on rocks or pier. Not great for a total beginner, but very good for improving your technique. And, yes, it's also a movie...
Reef break: A type of wave that breaks on the reef... We advise you not to begin surfing on this type of spot. Reefs are often sharp rocks, with various hazards - not the best place for a beginner!
Another advantage of white water: you don't have to wait on the lineup to get started! You can practice without stopping until you master the basics of surfing, before joining the peak.
white water: you don't have to wait on the lineup to get started! You can practice without stopping until you master the basics of surfing, before joining the peak.