Surfing is a sport practised in an environment full of hazards. Like most sports, it requires knowledge of certain basic and breakthrough techniques but also of the environment around you. So I propose that you learn the basic techniques that will allow you to catch your first wave and maybe even to stand up! Then you will continue to improve by learning the moves one by one.
Surfing requires you to understand the environment, in this case the ocean.
Just like other natural elements, we do not control the sea but we can learn to understand it better by paying attention to oceanic conditions and the topography of the surf spot (sandy/rocky bottom, currents, tides, etc...).
It is therefore strongly recommended to stay informed about surf conditions, especially if you don't know the place. Starting in one of our official schools is the best way to get into this sport without significant risk.
Get into the habit of observing how the spot works before getting into the water. Look to see if there are rocks, watch the waves, wait for a couple of sets to pass and try to gauge their size.
Si d'autres surfeurs sont présents, n'hésitez pas à les rencontrer et profiter de leur expérience. Les locaux les plus tribales seront toujours moins hermétiques à une approche humble et amicale La plupart d'entre eux voyagent et connaissent l'importance de se familiariser avec un spot et ses pièges possibles. Ils peuvent vous servir de repère pour évaluer la hauteur des vagues, la position du pic et du meilleur endroit pour remonter vers le large ainsi que de la présence de courants. Rien ne remplacera les conseils et l'expérience d'un surfeur expérimenté et habitué des lieux.
If there are other surfers around, speak to them and make use of their experience. Even the most tribal locals will be less cagy when faced with a humble, friendly approach. Most of them will have travelled and understand the importance of familiarising yourself with a spot and its potential pitfalls. Other surfers can be a good gauge of wave size, the position of the peak and how to best get out back as well as where the currents are. Nothing can replace the advice and experience of someone who is a regular to the spot. If the current takes you, don't panic and stay on your board. Try to paddle towards the waves to get taken back by the foam instead of tiring yourself out by trying to fight against the current. Do not wait until the last minute before calling for help; ridicule does not kill...
Knowing how to paddle is the first technique to learn as this is what will allow you to get around in the water and catch waves. You will quickly find out that staying on the board lying down is not as easy as it seems. Your body must be ideally placed to balance the board so that you can start to paddle.
Make yourself some friends: practise paddling by heading out of the surfing zone so you don't get in people's way, staying safely away from a possible collision, which could end badly.
The surfer must energetically paddle one arm after the other like in front crawl. Your shoulders should be slightly raised to make your arm movements easier. Your head should also be raised to get a better view for catching waves and avoiding others. Finally, your feet should be together to avoid rocking the board. For this you can even cross your legs to force you to keep both legs together.
Getting through the waves
The easiest way: turn yourself around under the wave while firmly holding the board above yourself like a barnacle shell.
What not to do (to keep your new surfer friends...) do not let go of your board onto them.
When the wave is approaching, slide towards the back of the board and pivot around 180° and sit down. You'll go backwards quite a bit but it can prove quite effective in small waves.
2. Eskimo roll: turn the board over holding it strongly with your hands. Let the wave pass over you and do the opposite to get it back the right way up. Quite effective but you lose a lot of time each time.
3. You can try to push yourself up on your arms as the foam approaches and press the board with your knee to stop it going backwards. This mini duck dive can be effective in small waves.
4. . Finally if the wave is quite big or you find yourself in the impact zone, you can think about letting go and diving. BEWARE: always look behind you, one surfer may be hiding another.
Catching a wave
Now that you know how to paddle, it's time for the next step: catching a wave. First of all you should understand that no wave catches itself. Lovers of peaceful chair lifts and smoking cigs while awaiting your snow-based take off: surfing may not be for you. You have to sweat blood and seawater to find your pleasures out here and you must know how to catch it yourself.
For the first attempts you should go for already broken waves or foam, away from anyone else. I know you'd all love to just catch a great wave like in the magazines but you'll have to bide your time because it's not easy. Take some foam waves and get a feeling for the power of the wave. Then try to get to your feet, pushing off your arms as if you were doing a press-up.
Now that you've had your first feeling of gliding with the wave, it's time to catch a real one. First of all you have to paddle faster than the wave to be able to catch it. Start paddling a bit before it arrives alongside you to build a bit of speed and then accelerate at the moment you feel that the wave is right behind you. When you feel it lift you up give it a last paddle and stand up.
The Take off
So you think you've learned the hard bit already? Don't be fooled! This is all just the beginning and this is the most important part. The take off is by far the most difficult manoeuvre to pull off for a beginner. This is the moment you have to stand up and travel down the wave in your stance.
Firstly, remember what you learned in the Catching a Wave section. You'll have to paddle fast to be pushed along by the wave.
At the moment when you feel that the wave is carrying you, give a strong push on your arms. At the same time slide your foot towards the centre of the board. Be aware that foot positioning is crucial. The leading foot must find the middle of the board or slightly to the back of it to spread all of your weight along the whole of the board. Think about keeping your knees bent and your pelvis above your board at all times, this is the secret to good balance. You can train on the sand before getting into the water or even in your bedroom (yep, you'll see this is a common trend among surfers, much to the dismay of their companions).
Despite all these explanations it still might not seem that straight forward...and you'd be right. This is why we suggest starting to surf with us. One of our ten schools can take you right through surfing, whether you are in the pure beginner stages or need to improve. Nothing can replace the assistance of a real instructor.
In the schools:
LEVEL OBJECTIVES SKILLS
and dress yourself and attach your leash
get into the water safely
get through the foam into a zone that you are safe in
ride the foam
paddle in a lying position on the board and ride the foam while paddling
stand up in one go on the board
2 Get past the impact zone
go around the impact zone using the current
get to your feet on an unbroken wave of less than 50cm
stand up in one go on the face of an unbroken wave
keep your balance
keep your balance following line of wave
3. Catch a wave < less than 1m, get out back duck diving, position yourself, choose the right waves,
take the direction of the wave
go to the left or right from the start
follow the shoulder of the wave
keep your balance in front or backside position following shoulder of the wave
4. Surf a wave less than 1.5m
stand up and follow the direction of a medium sized wave
use the height of the wave
find stability by moving up and down the shoulder of the wave
gain speed on the wave
gain and keep speed using all the height of the wave
- use the energy of the wave to move towards the shore on your own
- master the different techniques to get from lying down to standing up
- surf on a broken wave standing up
- catch an unbroken wave out back
- follow the shoulder of the wave into shore
5 days for 5 main techniques:
- master linking take-off/bottom turn in a dynamic way
- make use of the height of the wave
- link up main manoeuvres
- improve speed and tweak style