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A Beginner’s Guide To Surfing

From Chris Hemsworth to Hugh Jackman, the growing hobby is more about the ocean than catching rad waves.

We all want to be like Kelly Slater, some of us just haven’t warmed up to our super cold waters. When we refer to surfing, we often assume we’ll need a history of skateboarding adventures, or likewise, snowboarding escapades. Turns out all you need is a foam board and a hint of persistence.

While Australia is known for ‘dangerous’ waters, we are super fortunate to have some of the best surf beaches in the world.

Surfing is fast becoming a new leisure-trend, it isn’t so much about catching ‘rad’ waves as it is taking in all the ocean has to offer. In some cases this does mean sharing our waters with toothed-friends or ‘frenemies’ known as sharks. Overall, the chances of being attacked by a shark are surprisingly slim.

A CSIRO statistic eludes to the fact—there have been on average only 1.1 fatalities per year over the last two decades. Taking into account our shared playground, there are a few other dangers when speaking about safety in the ocean. A beginner’s guide to surfing must outline the dangers, of which there are many. While there’s a plethora of life-ending hurdles, knowing these dangers and planning for them are in a way—all part of a surfer’s journey, and highlights the ethos of the sport at the same time. Which is be sensible, know your surrounds and understand your limits.

Information is key to a beginner. However, it is just as important to a veteran. Complacency is a surfer’s demise. Let’s take a look at the following questions you’ll need to answer first.

What is your swimming ability?

Can you torpedo yourself through water like Michael Phelps? Or do you need ‘floaties’ swimming in your friend’s pool? Understanding your swimming ability is a major factor when surfing. Your swimming ability will determine the areas you’ll need to stay away from, and it will determine whether you have an awesome time, or an absolute nightmare out on the water.

If you are the latter, it’s probably worth spending some time swimming laps at a local pool, working your way from the slow lane to the fast lane. Next, it’s a great idea to head to a pool that generates waves to mimic similar conditions of that to the ocean.

If you do consider yourself a Michael Phelps type of swimmer, your go-to-move would be to head straight to Urbnsurf.

How serious will this activity be for you?

Do you actually want to be like Phelps? Or are you a Nat Fyfe type who loves the ocean but isn’t about to enter Pipe Masters? Most will fall in the latter category. It’s important to know how far you want to go, reason being, it will assist answering questions like, should I buy a wetsuit? Or Should I buy a board from the beginning? We say yes to both, only for the reason we don’t feel renting out wetsuits is the most hygienic of solutions, especially in today’s climate.

You have addressed the first two questions and are ready to take action, but where do you start?

Youtube. Yes, we are serious. Youtube is a great tool to use at home, so you can familiarise yourself with surfing etiquette. It is a thing and yes it’s important. Next, call the good people at Urbnsurf, if you are in Victoria that is. If you live in elsewhere you’ll need to find another wave-simulated pool so you can learn how to prop up on your board, avoid waves and ride waves.

Urbnsurf is great for all levels, however, it offers beginners a safe environment to learn and perfect the art of surfing. There’s no big fish, or riptides, jagged rocks or killer octopuses (not that there are many). It’s a safe zone for you to familiarise yourself with the code, and start your surfing journey. Urbnsurf offer board hire and wetsuit hire for those who don’t want to buy them.

What board should I purchase?

Great question. You’ve had some surf lessons, and you now know you want to keep going. Without the board you’re just a person in the water. So it’s kind of vital you buy a board, but also the right board. Your surf instructor will tell you buying a flashy cool board will almost end your love of surfing. Why? Because the flashy boards aren’t for beginners. The ones you see in movies are for actors, or professionals. Not you.

You will need a soft foam board that is way bigger than you and makes you look kind of stupid (for now). It’s about being comfortable out there on the water—so you can catch as many waves as possible. A foam board will do that for you. It’s also important to purchase a board that’s right for your height. Our advice is to go in-store and speak to a professional. That way you are fitted and measured, ready to ride the waves, as apposed to wiping out.

What now?

Keep surfing. Keep practicing, and keep learning. And most of all, enjoy!

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