The most important thing I think I can pass on to anyone about surfing is that you must become a student of the ocean. This means using every opportunity you have when you are down by the water to study what goes on. For example,
Know the beach
- Is it a point break, beach break or reef break?
- Notice where to get in and out safely.
- What is below the waves you want to surf?
- Sandy bottoms are softer, but reefs and rock bottoms are more predictable.
Read Surf and Tide Forecasts
- Know the direction of the swell and the tide before you arrive.
- Develop an understanding of what the swell direction and tides mean for the spot you plan to surf.
Watch Other People
- How do they get in and out?
- Assess the skills of those out so you can avoid hazardous surfers and be mindful of experienced ones.
- If you plan to surf a more localized spot, try to learn who the locals are. It is respectful to give them priority on waves.
Watch the Waves
- Are there only rights, only lefts, or both?
- Estimate wave size and difficulty.
- Identify hazards such as rip currents or sharp rocks.
- Understand where the small, medium and larger waves break.
- Determine which waves you will most likely want to ride and where you need to sit to catch them.
- Is there a channel you can paddle out in or sit in if a set comes?
Beach Break- a sand bottom surf spot with a combination of left and right breaking waves.
Channel-a deep spot in the lineup where waves break more gently or not at all.
Point Break– a rock, reef or sand bottom spot where waves wrap around a point and break in the same direction.
Reef break-a reef bottom break which could consist of live or dead coral; may have a combination of lefts and rights or it could be a point break.
Have fun out there and be mindful!
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