You’re never too old to learn how to surf and all you need is a surfboard, leg rope, wetsuit or a rash vest, and a whole lot of determination with a little bit of balance and coordination. Before you hit the beach in the pursuit of becoming the next Mick Fanning, here’s what you should know:
If you’ve never surfed a day in your life, start out with a few lessons from a local surf school or a seasoned surfer. You’ll need a board, read our blog on how to choose a surfboard. A board designed for beginners will give you the best chance of catching a wave.
Finding a beach suitable for beginners can make or break your surfing experience. Surfunation has a comprehensive list of kid-friendly and beginners spots Australia wide with links to the surf reports. Learning to understand the conditions before you paddle out is exceptionally important.
Before hitting the surf, familiarise yourself with surfing etiquette. Surfing without knowing the unwritten rules of the water is just as dangerous as driving on a freeway without being acquainted with the road rules. Knowing who has right of way on a wave can save you from being injured or hurting another surfer or swimmer.
Waxing a surfboard is not just something you do on the beach to look cool. Surf wax stops the deck from being too slippery. Keep in mind wax combined with friction can create a rash if you have sensitive skin, so be sure to wear a wetsuit or a rash guard.
Before any workout, a warm up will help prevent strains or injury, surfing is no different. A light jog with shoulder, lunges and squats will help prepare lubricate your joints.
A leg rope or surfboard leash will prevent you from losing your surfboard and save you from a lot of extra swimming trying to retrieve your board.
Remember what your mother used to tell you about not eating before swimming, it’s an old wives tale. Surfing burns a lot of energy, so make sure you fuel up on healthy carbs and proteins and drink plenty to stay hydrated.
When paddling out to the break, keep your strokes steady and rhythmic to power through the water with minimal exertion.
Cut your teeth by starting out in the white water, attempting to catch the small waves. Attempt to pop-up the minute the waves picks you up. Your feet need to be evenly spaced, shoulder width apart. Bent knees will act as a shock absorber and allow you to maintain a lower centre of gravity for better balance.
If you fall off, aim to jump away from the board to avoid being clonked on the head. If you find yourself tiring, lie on your belly and ride your surfboard back into the shallows.
Wiping out, that is falling off, is all part of the learning curve, so make sure you are a good swimmer or wear a floatation vest for extra buoyancy.
Once you’ve mastered the basics, you can check out some of Australia’s best surfing beaches.