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 East: Monday September 20, 2004

SURFING - GETTING STARTED

Man carrying a surfboard on the beach
Forget surfing USA - this is surfing UK
VIEW OUR UK SURFING GALLERY

If Inside Out has whet your surfing appetite, and you're itching to pull off a Point Break style pipeline, then read our guide to get you up on your feet and riding a wave with the best of them.

Preparation is the key

Surfing, like most sports, is physically demanding, so you should be reasonably fit and able to confidently swim at least 50 metres in open water.

Running, cycling and especially swimming will all help to improve your stamina and tone up important paddling muscles.

Several sessions swimming in the sea will help accustom you to the motion and if you can get on a bodyboard and catch a wave - all the better.

You should always warm up before going surfing and before carrying out any type of training to prevent muscle strain.

Surfboards

Surfboards
The long foam board on the left is ideal for beginners

A standard surfboard is around 6ft 4in to 6ft 10in (1.9m - 2.05m) long and 18 inches to 20 inches (45cm - 50cm) wide and weighs around 8lb (3.5kg).

The deck of the board should be waxed to repel water and prevent you slipping.

Beginners need a larger than average board - at least 12in (300mm) longer than they are tall).

These give greater stability, give a slower ride and the soft foam surface will avoid concussion should you take a blow to the head!

Suits you

A one piece wetsuit, either a full suit or "shorty" - cut off at the knee and shoulders, is a must for surfing in Britain.

A rash vest or "rashy" is provided by most surf schools. Although they are made to be worn underneath a wetsuit to prevent skin irritation, beginners often wear them over the wetsuit making them easily identifiable to the instructor.

Back to school

For beginners in the sport, surf lessons are essential to ensure you are fully aware of all aspects of surf safety, from avoiding strong currents to surf etiquette.

All equipment is provided and you will be in the water with your instructor who can advise on technique and which waves to paddle for.

With the basics mastered though, it really is a case of practice makes perfect - "gnarly"!

Surfing Code of Conduct

  • All surfers must be able to swim at least 50 metres in open water

  • Ensure that you are covered by Public Liability Insurance for surfing

  • Keep your surfing equipment in good condition

  • Always wear a surf leash to prevent you from losing your surfboard or bodyboard

  • Have consideration for other water users including anglers

  • Never surf alone or immediately after eating a meal

  • Always return to the beach before nightfall

  • Never mix surfing with alcohol or drugs

  • Always wear a wetsuit when surfing in Britain

  • If you are new to the sport never hire a surfboard without first having a surfing lesson (Given by a British Surf Association qualified (BSA) instructor)

  • Be considerate of other beach users especially when carrying your board to and from the water

  • When possible use a lifeguard patrolled beach. Obey the lifeguards instructions and be prepared to assist them if required

  • Where possible surf in a recognised surfing area e.g. in between the black and white checked flags

  • When paddling out avoid surfers who are riding waves

  • When taking a wave see that you are clear of other surfers. Remember, if someone else is already riding the wave you must not take off

  • Be environmentally friendly. Always leave the beach and other areas as you would wish to find them

Source: British Surfing Association

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Surfing
Norfolk - East Coast Surfing

On the rest of the web
British Surfing Association
East Surf
Wave Report

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