Introduction: Beginner Friendly Surf Tips!
As a surfer who has now had some wave counts to my name I have made some mistakes that I think others can avoid. I felt like putting together a quick tip list for those that are wanting to start in the surfing realm. The price tags that go along with some surf boards are really intimidating and I completely understand why some are hesitant to start. So furthermore here are my quick life hacks for those that are just starting.
- Surf Board
- Wax (optional)
- Wet Suit (optional depending on where you live)
Step 1: Types of Surfboards..
Choosing a surfboard is a very daunting task, At least for me it was. There are so many different types of boards and you have no idea what they will provide and feel like between each board. I remember finding myself asking fellow surfers what this specific difference in the board makes versus this one and so on. To start off, I'm providing a photo of different types of surfboards just to introduce them into the grand picture. Long story short there are many hybrids that try to bridge the gap for the two main types of surfboards. Long boards and shortboards. These two boards represent the complete spectrum for surfing and are intended to be ridden certain ways. Longboards are much more beginner friendly and for a relaxing style type of ride while short boards are meant to be ridden in bigger waves with an aggressive style. So it really is up to the individual what type of surfing they want to do. If you are a beginner though the longboard is much more easier but if you are really tempted to ride a short board there is nothing stopping you just know that you will be in the water for a few weeks before you can finally stand up on a short board versus if you started out on a longboard.
Step 2: Soft-Top Vs Traditional.
This topic refers to the top part of the surf board that you as the rider will be standing on. Now this largely depends on how much research you want to put in and how much money you want to spend. When I started out I went with the traditional board because I wanted something a little more high performance but looking back I think its better to go with the soft top for two reasons. One it is far cheaper and as a beginner you largely wont be able to tell the difference performance wise until you have spent some serious time in the ocean. Second the soft top gives you a little more flexibility in trying other surfboards down the road because you didn't spend as much to start off. Soft top is cheaper, easier for beginners to learn on, & less of a commitment. Traditional boards are more performance driven but far more expensive.
Step 3: Wetsuits..
Now if you live somewhere tropical where the water is warm than you can skip this step, But for a majority of us you will need to get a wetsuit. Wetsuits are measured in millimeters and what you'll typically see wetsuits listed as are the body thickness and the limb thickness with the name of the wetsuit. So above the wetsuit is listed as: Visla 3/2 meaning the wetsuit is 3mm thick in the body while having 2mm thickness in the limbs. Now how thick do you need a wetsuit to be is mainly up to you. The best way find out is to see if there is a surfing shop that rents out equipment and trying out a wetsuit to get a baseline for what you will need. For additional reference my wetsuit was a billabong 4/3 and the temperature where I surfed was routinely 55-61 degrees Fahrenheit.
- I personally think it is worth getting a nice wetsuit as they do really help keep you warm and can be the determining factor of whether your surf session was fun or miserable. So for my money, I would get the best you can afford. Getting a budget friendly wetsuit isn't a deal breaker and can workout too but just keep in mind that if you get a wetsuit that doesn't fit properly or if you save a few bucks you might pay for it later in always being cold when you try and go surfing. This can really ruin the experience for people so for my money I would get the best you can afford as they have additional layers for added warmth resulting in a much better experience.
Step 4: Leash.
Now when you get your surfboard you'll see a cut out with a small bar at the bottom and this is where you can attach your surf leash. It is solely there for when you fall off your board (and you will) so that your board doesn't go too far from your body when you resurface in the ocean. They come in various lengths and what it really comes is just choose your favorite color and you should be set to go. I had a 6ft leash that felt perfect. It gave me some slack but it also wasn't too much slack where it was getting caught on everything that I walked by or swam by. So my personal opinion is keep it on the shorter end 6ft is the perfect medium in my opinion.
Step 5: Longboard Vs Shortboard.
I put this at the end because I wanted to reinforce how radically different these boards are and its something that really only comes into play once you have surfed for a little but that's what type of surfing do you want to do. Longboards are typically rode on smaller to medium waves and have a much more laid back style to them. Shortboards are a much more aggressive type of riding and are almost always done on medium waves and up because you need that extra force to be able to ride the board because of the lack of volume a short board has. As a beginner you can start where you want but just to be clear I think longboards are the best starting point because they are much easier to stand up on and because the type of wave longboards are designed for are much more beginner friendly. You can start on a shortboard and in fact I did when i started out. But just be clear and honest with yourself that you will be in the water for the first couple of weeks because of how steep the learning curve is for them. For my money I like the style of surfing associated with longboards more and therefore would go with them over shortboards any day of the week but you can start off on shortboards although it is not recommended.
Step 6: Summary
- Surfboard: There are many different types but long story short bigger boards like longboards are way more beginner friendly but only adhere to a certain style. So according to your funds do your research and choose wisely. Shortboards are aggressive while longboards are much more relaxed in how they are intended to be rode.
- Wetsuit: depending where you live you may or may not need one. I wore a 4/3 wetsuit in approximately 58 degree Fahrenheit water.
- Wax & leash: If you have a soft-top style board you will not need wax but if you have a traditional epoxy surfboard you will need wax to be able to have enough traction to stand up on it. As for leashes any length works just pick whatever makes more sense to you. The longer it is the more freedom you have of positioning the board but it will catch on more things. While short leashes don't get caught on as many things but you are only limited so much freedom of movement with the board attached to your ankle.