Surfing is my favorite sport. Duck diving waves, cutbacks, barrels and more. There are a few cornerstone rules I maintain while surfing. These are the best ways to be safe while surfing!
Surf with a Buddy
Anything can happen while surfing: currents, wildlife, even your own board could hit you during a wipe out. It is super important to surf with a partner at least; keep an eye on each other periodically and stick to a similar session time.
Keep your board with you at all times
Your board is like your baby. Never let it go! Learn to duck dive the wave or roll over (turtle roll) with your board. If you throw your board behind you in crowded conditions you can kill someone. If you aren’t sure on board control, get more lessons. Your board shouldn’t leave your hands. Surf as if you have no leash!
Never turn your back on the ocean
One humble surf instructor explained this one to me. Always be at least parallel to the beach but always face the surf. Waves (swells) can come up at anytime and easily overtake you. Always be ready – and watching the waves roll in. Even upon your return to shore, you should be constantly checking the surf behind you.
Spend Time Watching the Surf
– Before you paddle out, scan the entire beach for up to 10 minutes. Do you see rocks? Which direction are the waves breaking (left or right) and where? How fast are the sets coming in? Pick a time when the water is calm to paddle out quickly! Go for the channel where the waves aren’t breaking as much to take advantage of the the rip current. Get to know the waves you are about to take by sitting quietly and studying the surf before you paddle out.
Roll your shoulders, ankles and get your blood flowing before hitting the water. Touch your chin to each shoulder because you’ll check the waves/shore (looking left & right) often
Check the shore
Check back to shore to make sure you haven’t drifted. Pick a reference point on shore before you go in the water. Periodically check where you are at during your paddle out and after taking waves.
Look left & right
As you paddle for a wave and ride a wave take a look left and right to make sure you aren’t dropping in on someone else’s wave
Take Lessons Often!
I still get lessons from my husband from time to time. He is a pro surfer and native surf instructor at Casa Verde Surf Retreat in Costa Rica. Book a week long vacation in paradise in semi-inclusive digs minutes away from the best year round surf in Costa Rica (more details below).
Check your surroundings IN the water.
Probably the most important surfing rule. If you are surfing alongside people or in a crowded lineup this can be a matter of life or death. You can kill someone with your board, or yourself. In crowded conditions, look left and right before dropping a wave. If you plan on dropping a wave communicate “I’ll go left, you go right”. Or call it “This wave is mine” if it is your right of way on a wave. The person at the peak of the wave (the breaking wave) has priority. Don’t drop a wave on top of anyone paddling out.
Regularly scan the area
Look around and behind you to see where there are other surfers or swimmers close to shore. Be aware. Respect the rules of the surf like you would the rules of the road. Respect the right of way for surfers dropping the wave.
ALWAYS LOOK UP AND AROUND BEFORE DROPPING THE WAVE.