So you have finally arrived in Hawaii for this family getaway that you have been waiting for so long, checked yourself into a hotel and unpacked your surfing gear!
You are now ready to hit the waters and do what brought you here in the first place –surfing, right? Great, but wait a second! Before you slip into that wetsuit or surf bikini, take a few minutes to acquaint yourself with the dos and don’ts of safe surfing.
This surfing safety guide gives you essential tips on how to stay out of harm when surfing so that you can have a breathtaking experience with the water world. Make sure to read it to the end before rowing your surfboard to the waters. Who knows, it might just save your life! Let’s get right to it, shall we?
1. Know Your Boundaries
Pushing yourself to the limit can be fun and will undoubtedly give you a mind blowing kayaking, windsurfing, or skimboarding adventure. But, seriously, you really don’t have to fight giant waves that are beyond your surfing ability just to proof a point. This is simply idiotic, not to mention dangerous!
It poses a great risk to other surfers as well. The rough shove from the waves can put you in the way of these surfers who will have to devise a quick way to avoid you in order to prevent accidents.
If you are new to surfing, stay in the shallows and white water until the time you will be totally comfortable on the board to perform advanced surfing maneuvers. Take it slow. Avoid point breaks and reef breaks at all costs until you have the strength and experience to surf here safely.
2. Come Prepared
You knew you were going for a cold water surf but you packed up beach short! Well, we are not trying to rule out beach shorts but what if the water temperature is way colder than you anticipated?
If you are eyeing a ride in cold water, it is important that you pack the right equipment for the activity. Get a wetsuit that is thick enough so that you can withstand even the coldest temperatures. Throw in a wetsuit hood, diving gloves, and wetsuit boots too.
Don’t forget to bring a pair of earplugs as well – unless you want to put yourself at a risk of developing the awful surfer’s ear. You may need to add a surf helmet to the package if you are going to surf at reef breaks or crowded waters. This will keep your head protected in case you hit it against a rock or come head-on with another surfer.
If you are surfing on a sunny day, you may want to bring a sunscreen and a pair of sunglasses to protect yourself from UV light. This will prevent sunburns and lower your chances of developing UV light-related eye problems like surfer’s eye.
3. Don’t Surf Like There Is No Tomorrow
You see these people who say water sports are addictive? Well, they are probably right. It’s not surprising at all to see a surfer trying to cross the heck out of a 1000 miles ocean!
We have heard cases of people getting lost in the middle of the ocean just because they couldn’t find their way back since they were too exhausted to figure out it out. Yes, you can kayak to the other side of the ocean, paddle to the nearest island, or scuba dive into those ancient underwater caves, all you want. Just don’t do it too much to a point where you are too exhausted to find your way back to the shore.
What if darkness sets in when you are out there and you are not able to see your way back clearly? You really don’t have to surf until it’s too dark or you are so worn out to get back to the land. You need to do so when you still have the vision and strength to do this safely.
4. Avoid Obstacles
We are not telling you not to surf into obstacles, but don’t even go close to these in the first place. When a wave breaks near structures such as cliffs, exposed rocks, piers, boats, or groynes, it would be wise to go surf elsewhere.
Any structure, manmade or natural, makes the water currents much stronger, and surfing near these can put you in great danger. The strong forces can shove you away and thrust you against a cliff leaving you injured or even dead.
5. Be Fit To Surf
Yap, you read that right! You need to be surf fit. We include this in our surfing safety guide because fitness is essential when it comes to ensuring a risk-free surf.
And don’t think because you broke the world record in the last marathon race or just because you do sit-ups every day you are fit for the surf. These will be of minimal use in the water sports. Your paddling muscles will be the most important during the surf. The faster these muscles can move, the quicker you can scull through the water, and the less close you will be to danger.
Well, you may have a good paddle and well maintained surfboard but neither of the two is indestructible. If any of them snaps, you will be totally on your own!
If you are a weak swimmer, consider spending time at the surf lifesaving clubs or any convenient swimming pool. These are the best places to train your swimming and paddle muscles in order to develop the strength and confidence you require to propel yourself against the waters in the event your surfing equipment decides to screw you up.
6. Don’t Let Go Of Your Surfboard
To keep yourself and other surfers safe, always hold on to your surfboard. Even when hit by an oncoming wave, never be tempted to discard it. The strong push from the current can ram the buoyancy device into someone behind you causing serious injuries.
Also, if you are careening through oncoming waves, keep your board to your side. One classic mistake beginners make is to place the surfing board in between the wave and themselves. This is a dangerous move as the board could easily hit them in the face.
7. Your Head Is Important, Protect It When You Fall
If you are falling off your floating board and don’t have a helmet for protection, the first thing that you should think of is to protect your head. Just place your arms above it and try as much as possible not to fall headfirst. Covering this vital part of your body will protect it from the seafloor, your surfboard, and other surfers.
8. Be Aware
Sometimes we get so soaked up in the surfing event that we become unaware of what is happening in our surroundings. Safety starts with observing the conditions around us.
Check to see if other surfers need help. Find out what is beyond the next wave. Keep looking back to see how far you are to the shore.
Can you see birds diving or fish surfacing? These could be a sign that sharks are within the vicinity. Being aware of your surroundings will go a long way in ensuring a risk-free water ride and give you an enjoyable surfing experience.
Just Before The Surf
Now that you know how to stay safe when surfing, the next part of our surfing safety guide lays down some of the things to do, or rather, how to get yourself prepared for the surf. Read on!
1. Sleep Well
Making sure that your surfing equipment is in good condition is imperative and getting quality sleep the night before the surf is equally important. Good sleep gets you relaxed, refreshed, and ready for even the most complex activities.
Going for a surf dazed and groggy means that you will not be on form and alert as you should be when undertaking such activities. Remember you are entering a potentially unfriendly environment. The least you can do is get your mind sobered up in readiness for any danger that might present itself.
2. Do A Quick Warm Up
You are going to be using your paddling muscles the entire time you will be in the waters. A quick warm up before hitting the oceans can help get your muscles ready for the vigorous exercise you are about to embark on. Those squats and yoga stretches will pay off dearly in boosting your movement when navigating the waves.
3. Check Your Equipment Regularly
This could save your life, quite literally. Wax your surfboard whenever you can. Check your removable fins regularly to see if they have loosened up. Doing this occasionally could be boring, yes, but it ensures that your surf gear is always in good condition.
Globo Surf Overview
Even though going for a surf is thrilling, if one doesn’t take the right measures, the whole activity could turn out to be a disaster. Remember you are playing against forces that can literally drown or crush you into a rock. Knowing what to and what not do during the surf is important as it can minimize such dangers. With the above surfing safety guide, you can substantially reduce or completely eliminate some of the major risks faced when surfing.