Friday, February 8, 2008

Surfing Equipment - What do I need?

What do you need to start surfing?

One of the biggest barriers to people wanting to take up the sport of surfing is the fact that you need a surfboard, and surfboards generally don't come cheap. If you are in a cooler climate, you will also need a wetsuit. These don't come cheap either.

Luckily we have it slightly easier these days than days gone by. We have access to online auction sites which make it quite a bit easier to pick up a cheap wetsuit or board. Also, traditional surfboard making was done locally. These days there are now lots of cheap imports which are fine to begin surfing on.

To start surfing, all you really need is the following:

A surfboard. Preferably 7-9 feet long. Nice and stable and the wider the better.

A wetsuit or board-shorts. I would also recommend a rash vest to prevent the dreaded nipple-rash!

A legrope. This is really important, you don't want to be chasing your board into the shore every time you catch a wave.

Some waves!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Tips for Beginners and Pro's

The two main components of surfing are paddling out and dropping in. While there is definitely a lot more to surfing, these are two things to master. The best way to learn how to surf is first hand, so after reading this article, go out there and surf, surf, surf!

When paddling out to surf, you have a few different choices to make. You can ditch your board, paddle over the top, dive early or try to paddle under the lip. Deciding what to do is all just a matter of experience. When paddling out, always charge straight at the wave as hard as you can. Even if you think you're going to get beat by the wave, just keep paddling straight toward the wave. The wave is moving toward you, so if you keep moving toward it, you will be surprised at how quickly you can get there, and possible even slip right under the lip.

The trick to piercing an already broken wave is depth. You need to get below the broken water of the wave into the calm water below and keep swimming forward. The deeper you can get under the wave, the safer you will be from the force of the breaking wave. Duck dive deep, or ditch your surfboard and dive down. As the wave passes over you, push off with your feet and streamline your body. As soon as you break the surface, get back on your surfboard and paddle like crazy.

When dropping in on a wave while surfing, always remember that where your head goes, your body follows. Lead with your head. If you want to go down the face of the wave, you have to keep your head down. Stretch your neck, put your chin near the deck of your surfboard, and hurl your every thought and inspiration down the face of the wave as you paddle. Only when you are sure you are sliding down the face of the wave should you slide lithely to your feet and start dealing with your bottom turn.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Learn to Surf: Surfing Basics In One Day

The first thing you need is the right surfboard. Most people make the mistake of trying to learn how to surf on a board that is too short. They see pros riding short boards and think that's what they need. This is wrong and will only make you frustrated and give up trying to learn.
Make sure you get a surfboard that is a least 9' long. You want it to be thick and wide as this will insure it's buoyant and stable. A good choice for learning are those soft-top boards that are...are like giant Boogie Boards.

Practice these first steps on the sand before you get in the water:

1. Lay the board with it's fin, (or skeg), down in the sand so the top, (or deck), is facing up.

2. Lay on the board on your stomach so your head is about 2/3 of the way towards the front, (or nose), of the board. Since you will spend a lot of time laying on your board you should invest in a rash guard or other UV protective surf shirt such as a StayDry Shirt to protect your stomach from getting a rash and your back from getting sunburned.

3. This next part is done all in one, quick motion: bring your hands up near your chest and grab the sides of the board then jump up and bring your feet up to where your hands are so you are now crouched on your feet and holding the board. Be sure you bring your feet up and under you so you are on your feet near the center of the board and that one foot is ahead of the other, (which foot is up to you).

4. Slowly stand upright as you bring your arms out to the sides for balance. Be sure to keep your knees bent.

Practice this technique,(called a 'pop-up'), until you can quickly and smoothly jump to your feet in one motion.

Now you're ready to hit the water.

Go to a beach that either has small, gentle waves or lots of whitewater you can ride on. Whitewater, (or soup), is the water that rolls towards the shore after a wave has broken. It's the best place for learning as it will be easier to catch when you paddle. You can also have someone stand in the whitewater and push you into the wave while you lay on the board.

Enter the water pointing the nose towards the waves and lay on your board.

IMPORTANT: You want to lay on the board so that the nose of the board doesn't dip into the water OR point up out of the water too high. When you start to paddle you want the nose to be parallel with the water, just skimming the surface.

To paddle keep your head up, your legs together on the board and cup your hands as you reach out into the water and draw them back along the sides of the board. Bring them out of the water down by your hips smoothly and without a lot of splash.

Once you're out and white water is coming towards you turn and point your board towards the shore, lay in the correct spot, (nose skimming the water) and start paddling. When you feel the wave pick you up and start to push you without you having to paddle you're ready to 'pop-up', (see step #3).

It will take some practice but by the end of the day you'll have a lot of fun, get a great workout and be surfing. Just get yourself a rash guard and some board shorts and you'll be a total surfer, dude!

Surfing Wetsuits 101

Winter is a fact of life for many people who enjoy the sport of surfing. However, cold air and water temperatures don't have to stop your sessions! Enter the wetsuit, probably the single biggest invention in surfing since the surfboard itself.

Wetsuits are tight fitting bodysuits made of flexible neoprene rubber. They work by trapping a thin layer of water between the neoprene and the skin. The body heats up this water, thus keeping the surfer warm.

When picking out a suit, you're going to want to get one that is specifically designed for surfing. That means seeking out your local surf shop. Don't go to a dive shop or swimming store. Surfing wetsuits are specially made to endure the specific repetitive motions that surfers make when they're out in the ocean. For example, non-surfing suits can have seams in bad places that will cause major rashes when you've been paddling for a few hours.

Wetsuits come in different cuts, from short-sleeve spring suits (or shorties) to fullsuits with hoods. When it gets very cold, booties and gloves are also available. Caps and hoods are also available for suits that don't have them already attached.

Surfers often have a quiver of wetsuits to accompany their quiver of different boards, especially in areas where the seasons change dramatically.

There are a variety of thicknesses from which to choose. From thin 2 mm spring suits, to 2/3 mm fullsuits, 4/3's, 5/4/3's, and 6/5/4's. These numbers reference how thick the neoprene is in millimeters for different areas of the suit. Often the thickest neoprene will be in the torso and thighs, while the thinner areas will be on the arms and calves.

When getting a wetsuit, it's important to set aside a block of time in order to try them on. Each company uses different models and they all have a slightly different fit.

The fit should be snug. Don't buy them too loose or water will be able to freely enter the suit and the insulating effect will be lost. This means you shouldn't buy a kid's suit a few sizes too big so they can grow into it. They might as well not wear a suit at all. The neck is an important area to pay attention to. The collar should be snug so that water doesn't freely enter and exit.

When looking at the pricetag, you do tend to get what you pay for. There are several different makes and models from each company, from budget to luxury. Often the higher priced wetsuits will have all sorts of cool things like sealed seams and improved zippers and entry/exit schemes.

The History Of Surfing

In the early 1900's the Hawaiians organized the Hui Nalu (surf club) and competed in neighborly surf competitions with the Outrigger Canoe Club. This drew a great deal of attention to the Waikiki surf shore, bringing a revitalized interest in the sport, which had fallen out of favor in the late 1800s. Duke Kahanamoku, an Olympic star in swimming, popularized the sport further by traveling internationally and showing off his surfing style to thrilled audiences around the world. He was favored by Hollywood elite; having acted in bit parts in films and was always recruiting new surfers wherever he went. He is credited with surfing the longest wave of all time in 1917, in the popular surfing area now called Outside Castles in Waikiki. His 1000 meters plus wave record has yet to be overtaken.

In the 1930s, the sport of surfing was experiencing a Renaissance. Tom Blake, founder of the Pacific Coast Surf Championships that ended with the onset of war in 1941, was the first man to photograph surfing from the water. Another photographer and surfer named Doc Ball published California Surfriders 1946, which depicts the pristine coastal beaches and good-time, relaxed atmosphere of surf living. Surfing, although curtailed in the aftermath of WWII, revived as always by the 1950s. Bud Browne, an accomplished surfer and waterman, created the first 'surf movie' with his 1953 "Hawaiian Surfing Movie". This inspired many photographers, filmmakers and surfers to continue documenting the sport, culminating with is arguably the best surf movie of all time, 1963's "Endless Summer" by Bruce Brown. The film opened up the genre of the surf movie and the art of surfing to non-surfing people, accumulating fans and inspiring neophytes.

Although surfing was a male-dominated sport, adventurous women surfers can be seen all the way back to the times of the Polynesian Queens. Two notable 'surfer girls' were Eve Fletcher and Anona Napolean. Eve Fletcher was a California-born animator for Walt Disney and Anona Napolean was the daughter of a respected Hawaiian surfing family. The two pioneered the sport for modern women, winning surfing competitions up and down the California coast at the end of the 50s and into the 60s. Hollywood was quick to be on the scene and with the 1959 film "Gidget", surfing was flung far out into the mainstream, never to return to its humble, ritualistic beginnings. "Gidget" inspired a slew of "Beach Blanket Bingo" movies that brought surfing to a new generation of teens and inspiring a new genre of 'surf music' that accompanied films and made The Beach Boys more famous than Elvis in the 60s.

Surfing spread throughout all media and Surfing Magazine was born in the early 1960s by famous surf photographer, LeRoy Grannis. After that, other publications cropped up bringing more information on the sport, equipment and stars of the surfing scene. John Severson, an accomplished filmmaker and photographer, created Surfer Magazine, originally called "The Surfer". These publications brought advertising, professional surfing, surf culture and publicity to the now very popularized sport.