SUP surfing is an exhilarating experience, whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned surfer. It’s unlike any other sport. You rise high, to land low. The head rush itself is amazing, and SUP surfing is a completely different water sport compared to traditional surfing. Not to mention, that feeling of accomplishment you get as a rider when you catch a wave just right.
But SUP surfing is more than getting yourself out there on the waves. You need to know the SUP surfing safety basics, even if you’re an experienced surfer. This isn’t to scare you off. Think of it as good etiquette to your fellow surfers while you’re out on the water. If you follow the basics you’ll have a great time and absolutely nothing to fear.
Follow the basic SUP surfing safety tips and focus on the fun.
SUP Surfing Safety: 6 Tips for Staying Safe in the Surf
Tip #1: Be Fit and Ready
You should never head out into the waves when you’re not feeling up to it. You need strong leg and arm muscles to swim in strong currents, and even paddling through small waves. Most of all you won’t have as much fun if you’re too tired to enjoy yourself.
Consider getting into a swimmer’s exercise routine, especially if you’re a beginner. Swimming’s a great full-body exercise that of course will help make you a stronger swimmer, but it will also make you a stronger paddler.
Swim laps in a pool, lake or even perpendicular to the beach. Swimming helps build up your legs, but most importantly for paddling it also targets you shoulders and back. This works to help you paddle out to the waves as well as when you’re trying to catch them. And, if you do fall in you’ll be confident in your swimming so you can focus on having fun.
Familiarize yourself with what’s around you and underneath the water.
Tip #2: Be Aware of Everything Around You
While you’re out on the surf, you should always be aware of everything going on around you. This includes how the waves are moving to others surfing and paddle boarding as well. Things move slower on the water, so just keep an eye out for what’s around and you’ll be fine.
It’s also a good way to look after each other while you’re out there surfing. If someone has a bad spill or finds themselves in a bit of trouble there’s usually other surfers around that can help. And let’s be clear, if surfing was too dangerous it wouldn’t be loved by so many people. So, you’re more likely to get tips from a fellow surfer, rather than need any help.
Last and not least, know what you’re paddling out into. If you’re going to surf near the coast, rocks, or reef familiarize yourself with its boundaries and depth. There’s lots of great surf breaks near reefs so it’s not that you need to avoid them. Just be aware of what’s nearby to protect yourself from any bumps and bruises and also to protect the reef.
Learn to read the waves before you head out into them.
Tip #3: Identify Currents
Learn how to read the waves and you’ll know exactly where to enter the water, where to paddle out to and where to exit. It’s certainly a skill and takes both practice and experience, so don’t expect to see the waves like a pro instantly. However, as you get the hang of it you’ll improve your surfing by knowing where to catch the best waves and avoid any nasty currents.
Rip currents are powerful and speedy channel currents. They flow away from shore, instead of toward it. Although they can be dangerous if you’re not expecting to be pulled away from shore, they’re useful if you are trying to paddle out. It’s good practice to listen to the weather before you head out and beach forecasts usually include info on the waves.
The main sign of a rip current is when you see waves that hit perpendicular to the shore. Between these waves, you’ll see gaps. The current will go both right and left off the waves as these currents collide. This causes the water to roll away from the shore at amazing speeds. Use them to your advantage, but don’t fight against a rip current even if you didn’t mean to get caught in one. It will eventually slow as you get out to deeper water, just stay with your board. If you want to paddle out of one, paddle across it parallel to the beach. Don’t try to paddle straight back against it. Just like a river it’s a current, so work with it don’t fight it.
With your leash attached you’ll be able to safely retrieve your SUP if you fall off.
Tip #4: Learn How to Fall
Tip #5: Quit When You’re Tired
Now that you know the SUP surfing safety basics, it’s time to head out for a surf!