I have always been a jock throughout my life; the girl who wore the athletic shorts and the baseball cap to school. And I was never satisfied with just one sport — until now. During my first year in college, I found the one sport that I was not immediately good at and took some time to perfect. That sport was surfing.
Beginners who don’t want to make total fools of themselves should try skurfing first. Don’t think that when you first get into the water you’re going to rip it up right away. It will take time and practice to learn the techniques involved. Skurfing teaches skills necessary for surfing, like balance. It requires a surfboard-like board, a boat and a pull rope. Here, you can learn the balance needed and some techniques before conquering the major waves at the beach. It’s like surfing, but with the boat pulling you, it is easier.
After practice with the skurfer and getting familiar with ocean waves, try traveling to the east coast of Fla. to surf for the first time. The waves on the east coast are stronger, higher and have less close-outs than that of the west coast. A close-out is when the entire wave crashes, and it has no form or curl.
Before you begin, you need to decide which kind of board to use. The two basic types are short boards and long boards. These two sizes have a huge difference in maneuverability. As a beginner, I recommend using a long board. These are used to ride the full wave, and they are my board of choice. The “shorty,” is used by intermediate surfers and is good in large waves and for performing tricks.
There are places to rent boards all over Florida. On the east coast, check out Ron Jon Surf Shop, located off A1A in Cocoa Beach; on the west side, check out Suncoast Surf Shop in Treasure Island.
Some things to remember to bring for your surfing adventure are: a surfboard, a leash (This is a strap to attach your board to your ankle, and it protects other surfers from getting hit by your board), wax (Without wax, plan on slipping off your board and looking stupid. Warm water wax is most common for Fla. surfing.), rash guard (This is a necessity! Without it, your stomach gets a painful rash from the wax.) and water (Salt water dehydrates, so make sure to bring plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration).
Now, to find the perfect surf spot. Don’t look down the beach and assume that where the surfers are is the best spot. This is usually where all of the beginners gather, and is mostly just a place where people surf into each other and get frustrated with everyone being so close. Look for a breaking spot, a sand bar. When waves crash on the beach, it is not a good idea to surf them. Most likely, you will also crash onto the beach. Look for flats, the area in front of the wave. Usually, that means the ocean ground gets deep again, and this provides for a safer landing if you fall when you catch the wave.
Paddling out is a sport in itself. When the waves are crashing down on you, do what they call a duck and roll. Take your board and roll it and the wave will roll right over you. This sounds complicated, but it works. After a few times, you will be in the spot you need to be to catch the wave, right behind the breaking point.
At this point, figure out what you want to do. If you want to just catch the wave and ride it in, look for a smooth wave. Look for a decent ground swell. This is where the current forms the wave into a nice barrel, and it will make your ride easy and fun.
For those of you who want to do some tricks once you’re up, here are some ideas:
For short-boarders, do a “pop.” When exiting the wave push your board into the wave and jump up. It looks awesome and you will catch some major air.
For long boarders, try the “cheater five.” You walk up to the front of the board and the toes of one foot off it. If you can easily do that, try the hang 10, a popular term in surfer vocabulary for hanging all of your toes off the board while riding the wave. But be careful, this takes a lot of skill in balancing.
Surfing can be a activity with lots of frustration, but once you surf your first wave, you will fall in love with it. It is peaceful and thrilling all in one. Popular Surf spots in Florida: Treasure Island- Sunset Beach, Bradenton Beach- Three Piers, Cocoa Beach-The Pier (This is where most of the competitions are held here), Sebastian Inlet (One of the most popular), Daytona Beach, Madeira Beach, Jacksonville Beach Pier, Pensacola Public Beach, St. Augustine Beach, Melbourne Public Beach and Satellite Beach.