Learn to surf in ten easy steps
Surfing. It’s simple. Just walk out into the surf, turn the board around, catch a wave and stand up. If only it was that easy! Here's ten steps to help you master the waves.
The sport of kings takes a lifetime just to get “OK” at it. One thing you have to remember before learning to surf is the sad fact that you will never master surfing. It can be a slow, painful process just to get to grips with the basics. However it’s not all doom and gloom. The surf journey is a fun one that only gets better the more you do it.
The following ten tips are to be used as a guide to help kick start your surfing life. It is worth every penny to invest in some good coaching as years of practicing bad technique can be torturous.
Pick a beach that is well lifeguarded. Make sure the equipment you use is safe – a soft board and a warm wetsuit will keep you out of trouble. Take advice from a surf instructor or lifeguards on the beach.
Hold back and take a look at what’s happening in the water. People who rush in end up in trouble. Take note of what the tide is doing, where the rocks are, whether there are rips and pick the spot with the best waves for you.
Walk to the waters edge. Slip your leash on around your back ankle. Make your way into the ocean, keeping the surfboard by your side pointing straight out to sea.
Once waist deep, turn the board around and point the board back towards the beach. Keep an eye on the incoming waves at all times. If a wave comes you wish not to take lift the back of the board up and over.
As a new surfer you will want to catch a broken wave or white water. At waist deep this will normally be the only wave available. You want to pick your waves based on size and distance from you. The more distance you put between you and the wave the more time you will have for the next step, getting ready.
This step takes practice but it’s important to get it right. Pull yourself onto the board making sure the board is flat on the water. Too far forward will result in a nose dive. If you’re too far back, you’ll be pushing water when you paddle. Put your knees apart and keep your head up. Don’t wrestle the surfboard, lay into it.
You need to get the board moving long before the wave meets you. The more paddles you put in, the more chance you have of tapping into the wave. Keep your body still and don’t kick your feet. Your paddle strokes should be long and effective.
After a while the wave will catch up with you. When this happens do two more paddles so you drop down the face of the wave. Use your head to help you – head down for more speed and head up to stop a potential nosedive.
Once you catch the wave and you’re racing towards the beach, it’s time for the hard part – standing up. Pushing down as if you were doing a “half” push up and bring your legs underneath yourself while twisting your pelvis. This will help you slide your front foot forward, rather than trying to “step through”.
Keep a low centre of gravity, knees bent, backhand in front, eyes fixed on where you want to go. Relax and keep the board flat in the water. Once the wave dies out, hop off and pat yourself on the back. Easy!
Words Chris Thomson Photos Elliot Walker
Chris Thomson is a surf instructor with 121 Surf Coach (www.121surfcoach.com ). When he isn’t teaching, Chris can be found sliding the waves at Watergate Bay or organising adventures for Errant (www.errantsurf.com ) – the surf travel company. He also surfs professionally as a team rider for Fat Face and the Extreme Academy.