Beginner Tips from a Beginner Who Hadn't Known These Tips and Would Have Quite Liked to Have Done...

I am no expert but as I reflect on my first few months surfing I thought I'd share a little list of some things that I would have liked to have been thrown at me before I started. (Most beginner tips you are told, can find easily online or watch on YouTube.)

  1. Don't worry too much about which board to get when you first get one because it will be your choice of second board that will be far more important. Just grab the nearest/cheapest Mini Mal and get out there. (I would just qualify that with one thought: if you know you, or your family, are going to be rough with your board get a tougher one like an NSP or Bic rather than a custom/polyester resin board which will be nicer but more fragile.)
  2. When you get your board out of the car for the first time - full of enthusiasm - don't forget you've put it down behind you, turn around, and immediately trip over it. (Oh yes - and, while I think of it, you can also do a Buster Keaton on the slippery grassy slopes of Woolacombe quite easily if you're not careful...)
  3. Try to find small clean waves when you start. Don't just go out into the 'best surf' you can see. It is good to go out in a variety of conditions but you will learn more about catching waves and standing up in the little stuff (leave your pride and Kelly Slater fantasies on the beach for later).
  4. When you put on your leash it should stick sideways out from your ankle (so that it trails backwards when you are standing sideways in surfing position). At first I kept putting it on sticking straight backwards from my achilles and it would twist as soon as I started surfing - doh!
  5. Fibreglass surfboards are quite fragile - so don't just drag your board through the whitewater by the leash because you'll risk snagging the leash on the rail or tail and cracking the fibreglass.
  6. If you're standing or wading and are going to get hit by a wave don't just turn your head sideways to avoid it hitting you in the face - turn your head all the way towards the beach. If you don't you may get a hard slap of water straight into your ear which hurts and could even perforate your eardrum.
  7. Again when paddling out: if you just make it over a peaking wave (probably pulling a kookish scaredy-splash-face) don't think that's it: when the nose of your board slaps down on the other side the water will shoot round it on both sides and give you about a pint of water up your nose and in your mouth and eyes. What's more you are then useless for a few seconds and the chances are the next wave will then make matters worse! Yeah - watch out for that one!
  8. When you jump back on the board to paddle out try not to bash your balls on the rail fellas; that too can render you useless for a minute or two - at the mercy of the whitewater.
  9. Think about how you fall off - I have injured myself a number of times when innocuously falling/jumping off. I have twisted my knee in the shallows by landing with one leg on the board and I have cut my foot and hands on the fins. Make sure you try to steer clear of the board and don't assume that just because the water is soft stuff that you don't have to think about it when you "dismount".
As Marwood says in Withnail and I: "...just thoughts really..." but I hope I might help one fellow learner have at least one less, painful, kookish moment!


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