Welcome to the Online Surf Shop learn to Surf page.
Before we start, surfing is one of the most rewarding yet hardest sports to learn. I’ve spent a lifetime surfing and at 50+ my life still revolves around the surf and the challenges and thrills every wave throws at me.
Lesson No 1, Safety, I can’t stress enough the importance of safety in and around the water. The ocean is a dangerous place and many lives are lost each year, mostly through inexperience and sometimes ignorance so during your first lesson we will run through a few pointers i have picked up over the years. First of all as an introduction i recommend joining your local Surf Life Saving Club who can teach you or your children valuable lifesaving information which you can use throughout your life as a surfer. Both my kids have been involved in Nippers ( the name for young surf lifesavers ) and along with meeting many new friends who share a passion for the sea, the kids learn safety and respect for the ocean. Ill say it now before you start surfing or get your kids involved, run through a couple of seasons at your local Surf Life Saving Club. I’ve pulled inexperienced kids out of the water and watched them spew water and nearly die as their terrified parents watch helplessly from the beach so if you think you can just grab a board and be a surfer think again. Once you have the confidence in the surf you could think about joining a Board riders Club. There’s a list of all clubs on Surfing Australia’s web site. Do the hard yards and you will thank yourself for the rewarding experience surfing will bring to your life or that of your kids.
Lesson No 2, The Surfboard and Wet suit, what sort of board do i need ? You want a board that’s a fair bit bigger than yourself and has stability while your learning. Most of the surf schools around Australia are using a soft board for learners called G Boards and there worth talking to in reference to the size board that will suit you. Don’t just buy a board because a mate told you its a good board or because someone in a surf shop says it will suit. Ask around and gather as much information as you can or get a few lessons before you purchase a board. ( Surfing Australia has over 70 affiliated surf schools around the Australian coastline).
Lesson No 3, Unless you live in a tropical climate you will need a wet suit. Go to your local surf shop and try them on as different labels have different cuts. Make sure the suit fits snug but not to tight and a reputable surf shop should be able to help. From December to May in most of N. S.W. you will only need a Spring suit ( short arms short legs ) and if you want to surf the colder months you will need a steamer ( long arms long legs ). The cheaper brand suits are ok whilst learning but if your keen buy a good wet suit that’s suited to your area as you get what you pay for in wetties. I have a Rip curl 2mm spring suit for summer and a 3/2mm steamer for most of winter and when the water gets down under 15 degrees i bring out my 4/3MM and 2mm wet suit booties.
Lesson No 4, Paddling your Board, sounds easy but having your body positioned in the right spot is crucial when paddling your board. Start off in flat water like a lake or a protected beach where the waves are very small. Wade out and position yourself in the centre of the board and start paddling. If the nose of the board is sticking up high out of the water your too far back and if the nose is going under your to far forward. Move around on the board until you get the sweet spot and the board glides through the water with nice slow deep strokes. The only way to build yourself up in strength is spending time in the water paddling and every time you go your balance will improve so keep it up you’ve come to far now to give up.
Lesson No 5, Catching White Water, once a wave has broken the initial force has been taken and the resulting white water is great to learn to surf on. Pick a day when the surf is small and paddle out through the broken waves until your out far enough to give yourself time to stand up on the wave before it gets to shore. Use the same principle of balance when riding your board as paddling. Legs should be wide apart and to much weight at the nose will force you to nosedive and to much weight at the rear will bog down the tail and force you of the back of the wave. And again only time in the water practicing will get you surfing. If you surf with your left foot forward you will be known as a Natural Footer and the right forward a Goofy Footer.
Lesson No 6, Getting out the Back, now that your confident riding the white water lets look at getting out the back where the waves are unbroken. On your way out you will have to go under many broken waves and the best way to do this is by Duck Diving ( paddle fast towards the oncoming wave then just before it hits you push the nose of your board down underwater by holding the rails of your board and putting one knee into the middle rear of the board. Force the board under the approaching wave and straighten your body holding onto the rails, your forcing yourself under the broken wave the continue paddling and Duck Diving until you are out the back. Practice again is the only way to master the art of Duck Diving so time in the water is what you need.
Lesson No 7, Before Riding your first unbroken wave, i better explain the rules before you go paddling onto someone else’s wave, that’s right someone else’s. The rules of the surf are no dropping in which means the surfer who takes off on the wave first has right of way. Surfers will get very upset if you attempt to paddle onto a wave they are already riding. Waves break as rights and lefts and when sitting out the back looking towards shore a left breaks towards the left and a right towards the right. The name of the game is to stand up before the wave has broken and ride the clean face of the wave either right or left.
Start off on a beach break rather than rushing straight out to a reef and your better off starting somewhere without a crowd but with a friend. Not only does a friend inspire you to improve, the safety factor comes into play with a mate as the surf can be unpredictable.
Ok this is it, your out the back and you can see the waves are breaking just inside where your sitting on your board and you spot your wave peaking up as it hits the shallower sand. Its now time to turn and paddle with nice deep strokes you feel the wave start to propel you towards shore and you get to your feet just before the wave breaks and feel the adrenaline rush as you take the drop and the wave breaks behind you. Wherever you look your board will angle towards, so look along the wave where you want go. Keep your body balanced on your surfboard and put your weight slightly forward. Your getting there now, your a surfer and nothing will keep you from the surf, its in your blood and there is a very good chance the rest of your life will be moulded around the waves.
I hope this page initiates someone or their children to pursue the sport of surfing as i couldn’t imagine life without waves.
Enjoy your surfing cheers Rob.