SEVEN STEPS TO A
“I want to learn how
to surf but have no idea where to start.”
STEP 1. Learn to Swim
To surf one must enter
the water, usually the ocean. If you try to learn how to surf WITHOUT
learning to swim first you could easily drown. Do not attempt to surf
unless you learn how to swim first. You should be very comfortable
holding your breath and being under water. Waves can tumble you
around and sometimes hold you under water for awhile. If you learn to
be calm when this happens you will enjoy surfing a lot more. Waves,
tides, and the location of where you choose to surf play a big roll
too. We will go into that a lot more later on. Right now you must ask
yourself, “Do I like being in and under water? Am I comfortable in
the water? Do I want to spend a lot of time in and under the water’s
If you answered yes
then once you learn to swim you are ready to move on.
To me, surfing is 90%
preparation and 10% or less of actually surfing on a wave! A major
part of that preparation is basic physical and mental health
When we take care of
our mind, body and spirit OUTSIDE of the water ONLY THEN can surfing
truly work its magic. As part of a healthy lifestyle, surfing can
help stress just melt away. Things that were confusing once, become
clear and priorities change.
When I was 14 I really
wanted to be somebody until I learned how to surf, then it didn’t
matter. All that mattered was that I was in the water. Since then
Surfing has taken me to Australia, Costa Rica, Mexico, Nicaragua and
Hawaii more than a few times.
STEP 2 - Study the
You want to do this?
Then you have some serious homework.
While you are training
your body to be a strong swimmer you must train your mind. Learn what
the different parts of a wave are called. There are a bunch of
conditions that need to line up in order to hit the perfect day. The
right swell, tide, and wind are the three major variables. All three
by themselves can ruin the conditions. When they are all working
together you will know. Those special days I refer to as “all time”
and are very hard to forget. You need to learn the basic wave height
forecast first. Do not attempt to go surfing unless you know the wave
forecast and the tides. The wave forecast is a must. You do not want
to be out in the ocean as a beginner if the waves are forecasted to
get bigger than 5 feet.
A good surfer usually
knows what the tide is doing also. Is it going low, coming, in, how
far, and what time? The more knowledge you have the more data you can
accumulate. The more data you have the better you will be at finding
waves. Surfline.com is the number one wave forecasting website and a
premium membership will pay for itself in no time.
Waves; the surf spot
itself will dictate how the waves break. The bottom of the ocean
where you surf affects the shape of the waves. Soft slope=soft
breakers, steep shelves=steep faces and usually barrels. The height
and intervals between waves is next level shit. Once you start
getting into the wave height intervals you will really start to
understand where the power comes from. A short interval like 9
seconds or less is usually a young or weak wind swell. A higher
interval swell like ten seconds or more means there is some power to
be felt. People who like big waves look for waves like 10’ @ 17
seconds or bigger. The Mavericks surfers are riding waves around 20’@
17 seconds and those waves look like they are 40’ when they break!
Swell Direction- Is it
coming from Mexico, Alaska or New Zealand? Is it a weak ass local
wind swell or a huge ground swell? Is it a few swells mixed up making
pyramids pop up at your local beach? Swell direction is something you
could spend some time studying. Gurus have that shit dialed.
Tides- Some good spots
do not even break on certain tides. Studying surf spots and taking
notes will allow you to dial in best tides and conditions. Start a
journal. One spot’s nightmare conditions could be another spot’s
Winds- AGAIN, Some
breaks get real good on certain wind directions and vice versa.
Teaching yourself the specific directions and taking notes is a sure
fire way to build your database.
STEP 3 - Equipment
What I like about
surfing is that once you get your equipment and do some homework you
are good to go. Now that you know how to swim you need a surfboard
and possibly a wetsuit.
YOU: “So what should
I look for when buying my first surfboard?” You ask?
Board volume is the
single most important thing to consider when choosing a board. A
basic 9’ Long Board is the most common starting point for people
under 185 lbs. If that’s you, do not try to learn on a board less
than 21 inches wide and 2 and ¾ inches thick.
For people heavier than
185 lbs or so, I would start thinking about a 9’6” or even 10’
long board, around 3” thick and no less than 23” wide.