An A to Z of surfing advice
I spent five years surfing the south-west coast of France. Want to have fun surfing? I have a few tips for you. From A to Z.
A is for Aloha
Aloha is Hawaiian for hello, welcome, goodbye, affection, love, compassion, mercy.
B is for Board
You don't need the latest pro model to have fun surfing. I had more fun with a cheap foam top surfboard than an expensive shortboard. To save money, try to buy second hand boards.
C is for cycling
If you can cycle to the beach, do it! It's a great way to warm up your legs. You'll be surfing at your best from the first wave.
D is for duck diving
Don't wait for the whitewater to catch you, paddle fast towards it to make your duck dive easier.
E is for energy
Don't wait until you're exhausted to get out of the water. Better to reach the shore when you still have the energy to paddle than to be caught in the current with noodle arms!
F is for fins
These are ridiculously expensive for what they are: just pieces of plastic. If you know someone with a 3D printer, they can help you save money.
G is for Grommets
The kids who surf. They're really young and already surf better than you. But surfing is not a competition. The best surfer is the one who has the most fun.
H is for Head
Keep your head still and face forward when paddling. This will stop your board pitching, which will ruin your paddling efficiency. And don't let your feet drag into the water as they will slow you down. Link them together like a cliff diver.
I is for industry
Thank them for making wetsuits, but hate them for ruining the spirit of surfing. "Surf is life" is a marketing invention. Surfing is great, but there are plenty of other things to enjoy on earth. And you definitely don't need surfwear. It's super expensive and won't make you any cooler than you are.
K is for Kyrgyzstan
I know. There are no waves there. But a lot of other places have not been surfed yet. The search for new waves is still on!
L is for leash
Don't wrap your leash around the tail of your board. It's made of a memory material that will tangle around your feet the next time you go surfing and you'll miss waves.
M is for morning
The wind is often offshore early in the morning. It's the best time to catch waves before the wind changes direction. And early in the day there are often fewer surfers in the water, which means more waves for you!
N is for never
Never ride a wave when someone is in front of you! No one wants to be stabbed by your surfboard fins.
Never ride a wave when someone else is riding it! IT'S THE LAW!
Never let go of your board to dive under the wave when people are paddling behind you! The wave will push your board right into their faces.
O is for Overhead
When the waves are bigger than a standing person. Accept your limits before the ocean reminds you of them in an unpleasant way. If it's too big for you, it's too big. And don't follow the daredevil who says: "It's not that big!
P is for priorities
The surfer who is closest to the whitewater has priority to take the wave. Again, IT'S THE LAW!
Q is for quiver
One versatile surfboard is luck. Multiple boards is fear: what if you choose the wrong one for the session?
S is for stretching
The more flexible you are, the better you surf. Relaxation is important when surfing. Don't force manoeuvres. Yoga will make you a better surfer. Yoga is a very effective way to stretch your muscles, cool down and improve your balance.
T is for take off
Don't grab the board, put your hands flat on the deck. Put your back foot on the deck first, then your front foot. Then get up with your head first, not your hips. Once you're on a wave, you don't have time to learn how to do a take-off properly. That's why you need to practice it on the ground a lot until it becomes a reflex action.
U is for used
Don't ruin what you came here to enjoy. The ocean is fragile, and surfboards and wetsuits are made from very polluting materials. Buy second-hand surfboards and wetsuits whenever possible. The environment and your wallet will thank you. Eco-friendly surfboards and wetsuits are available if you can afford them.
V is for variation
The late triple world surfing champion Andy Irons said: "I tried to change my surfing, which is the absolute worst thing you can do. Everybody surfs their own way. If I try to surf like someone else I look like a dork.".
W is for wetsuit
Put it on as soon as you can after your session. Hang it by the waist on the horizontal bar of a coat hanger. Never leave it to dry in the sun. All these tips will prolong the life of your wetsuit.
If you have difficulty putting your wetsuit on, put each foot in a plastic bag before getting into the wetsuit.
X is for eXit
Most of the time you can do one more manoeuvre before exiting a wave. There is always room for fun!
Y is for Yoga
If there's one activity I'd recommend out of the water, it's yoga. It makes you more flexible and relaxed. Many professional surfers use yoga to improve their surfing and prevent injuries.
Z is for zones
If you're new to a surf spot, watch the best surfers in the water and notice where they wait for waves, where they get in and out of the water, and which way they go to get back to the lineup after catching a wave. Better still, ask the local surfers on the beach. They'll explain the dynamics of the spot, its possibilities, its dangers and what to expect when the tide changes.