We’ve been lied to time and time again by the film industry about what surfing is truly like. This is our time to take a stand. We’re deeply sorry to spoil your fantasies, but there’s a lot more that goes into surfing than hearing the sound of the ocean through a magic seashell. You can’t pick up the hottest looking board and surf in your favorite bikini, because that might be dangerous. There are a lot of equipment that you need to pick out first. You’ve got to carefully select appropriate swimwear, a leg leash, surf wax or a traction pad, a suitable surfboard, and the list goes on. You may think that we’re just complicating things, but we’re not. To prove it, we’ve compiled a bunch of reasons as to why having the right gear is not optional. It could actually be what saves your life in a tight situation.
- Your Gear Plays a Big Part in Progress
For beginners, it is often a priority to choose a surfboard with a cool design. Now, don’t get us wrong, choosing a badass design is important, but it shouldn’t really be a priority because there are other factors so much more important. After you gain some experience in the surfing world, you’ll realize that the way you ride has been mostly sculpted by the size of your first board, tail, and rails. Not only that, but you’ll also find that having a certain type of board may hinder your progress rather than help you progress.
It all depends on the skills you wish to improve which, for a complete beginner, is mainly balance. That’s why it’s recommended that your first board be a longboard, also known as, Malibu. The surface is large enough to allow the rider a little more freedom of movement than smaller boards. Besides, it’s size makes it more stable to ride and easier to catch waves with. However, as your skills develop and as you strive to ride larger waves, you’ll find the longboard harder to maneuver. At which point, you should move onto another type of board designed for the big waves and more advanced moves.
Another factor that affects the way you ride is how fragile and expensive your board is. Starting out with a pricy board means that it’s most likely for you to be too scared to venture out with it. Surf schools prefer that their students learn on boards made of foam at first because it allows them to put all their focus on their skills rather than on their boards. However, don’t forget to change your gear to match your skill level.
- Every Wave Has Its Gear
Just as we said before, what they don’t tell you in all the classic surfing movies is that you can’t simply grab a board, run into the water, ride a wave, and win the championship. Your board needs to suit the wave you’re planning to ride. See, if you show up to a beach that mostly has small waves with a board that has a rounded pintail, you can’t expect to ride the mini-waves comfortably. Why? Because that type of tail is ideal for medium and large waves. To avoid facing such difficulty, some people choose boards that go with most wave types, while others research the beaches they’ll be hitting before they get there.
Fishboards, for example, are one type of surfboard that’s perfect for catching the tricky waves because of their short length. Plus, they’re wider than normal shortboards which means smoother motion and more fluid turns. Their versatility is why they’re often labeled as one of the best surfing equipment by several online stores. But, as we’ve mentioned before, to get the most out of your surfing experience, you need a surfboard that matches the type of wave you’ll be riding.
As the waves get bigger, you’ll find that a gun board is the best option because they’re designed to pick up speed fast so the rider could easily catch their target waves. With calm water, though, a flatwater SUP would be an optimum choice for just rolling along the waters. Do you see the relationship between a wave and the type of surfboard?
- The Equipment You Use Dictate Your Style
Whether you like it or not, the gear you use plays a major role in shaping your style as a surfer. Certain pieces of surf equipment make it easier to control a surfboard which, in turn, means that a rider using this equipment would develop a style that’s more dependent on sharp turns and aerial tricks. Here we’re talking about traction pads and surf wax for the most part since they have a large influence on style.
A traction pad is basically a patch that you stick on the tail of your surfboard to give your foot a tighter grip. First off, they’re made of soft material which means added comfort for your feet while maneuvering. The more comfortable you are, the more energy you’ll have to hone your moves. Second, the grip provided is considered an essential by a number of surfers because of the maneuverability these things offer when riding the big waves. Third, unlike surf wax, traction pads don’t get affected by temperature. Meaning, you’re guaranteed a stable level of traction at all times.
On the other side, surf wax is stickier than pads, but while this stands for a stronger grip, it doesn’t mean that wax is better. Some riders like wax because it keeps them more in touch with their board, as opposed to the extra layer the pad adds which they feel affects the relationship between a rider and their board. Needless to say, the surfer-surfboard relationship is a critical determining factor when it comes to riding styles.
- Proper Gear is Essential for Your Safety (and those around you, too)
Surfing is a sport where falling off of your board isn’t a rare phenomenon. It’s an integral part of the game. Nevertheless, this doesn’t mean that being fully submerged in water doesn’t fluster a person. Not to mention, large waves can be quite overwhelming to a person. That’s why before you take your board to the water, you should make sure you’ve got a leash on. What it does is that it connects the surfer to their board. In other words, it offers a lifeline to the surface for whenever a fall takes place.
Add to that, surf culture has evolved so much that it has developed its own rules of etiquette. One of these rules is keeping your board on a leash because, in the event of falling, there’s always the danger of it slipping away if it isn’t tethered by a leash. Your surfboard could end up hitting another surfer which, as you know, is not a nice thing.
One concern most beginners get when subjected to the concept of a leash for the first time is the effect it has on their freedom of movement. To this, we say that there’s no reason to be concerned at all, as long as you pick the right length of rope. The rule of thumb is to get a leash longer than your board, but try to keep it between a minimum of 6 inches and a maximum of one foot. A length in that range should keep you linked to your board without cramping your movement even a little.
- Don’t Forget That Your Surfboard’s Safety Depends on it
As we’ve mentioned above, when surfing without a leash, there’s always a possibility of your beloved board slipping away during one of your falls. What we didn’t mention was that this is one of the most common ways a surfboard breaks. An off-leash surfboard is literally a sitting duck to any powerful wave out there. Word of advice, seeing your board crash into a group of rocks is not a beautiful sight. To us, that is enough reason to buy a leg rope.
Taking care of one’s gear is always the mark of a quality surfer. After all, if you genuinely love the sport, it’s only natural for you to be protective of your equipment. Yet, for one reason or another, people tend to overlook the importance of getting surfboard bags. Granted, they don’t look as cool as an actual board, but that’s not their purpose. The bags are designed for protection, which a surfboard desperately needs. To get to a beach, most people require some sort of transportation.
The longer your commute is, the more prone your board will be suffering from scratches and dents. It’s already hard enough to maintain personal space nowadays, imagine what it would be like to keep people away from hitting a 9-foot board. So, as you can see, not getting the right gear before you hit the water could be the reason you don’t even make it to the water in the first place. Speaking of making it to the water, if you’re planning to take to the skies for a surfing trip, make sure you get a bag slightly larger than your board. That way you could insert extra padding to protect your precious surf machine.
- Dress Codes Exist for a Reason
A huge part of surfing consists of sitting on a board and waiting for your turn to ride a decent wave. Now, of course, the waiting period depends on how crowded your area is, but in general, the amount of time you’ll spend above water won’t be brief. To keep your skin safe from sunburn and UV damage, it is advisable to wear a wetsuit while surfing. Besides, if you’re a surf wax user, you’ll need something to protect your body from cuts, burns, and rashes. Saltwater and surf wax aren’t exactly the perfect ingredients for a body lotion, you see.
In addition, a thick enough wetsuit could keep you warm and well-protected in cold waters. And, yes, you heard right. There are thickness varieties to match any type of climate. In fact, there are other variations of wetsuits for the people who can’t stand wearing wetsuits during hot weather. Whether you’ll be wearing a surf tee, neoprene vest, and shorts, or surf leggings, it doesn’t matter that much. As long as you make sure your skin is protected from any damaging factors.
Nonetheless, bear in mind that this is only in hot weather. When it comes to cold temperatures, there is a serious threat of suffering from hypothermia. The gear you’ll need to bring with you, should be appropriate to the average temperature you think you’ll be swimming in, and that needs a bit of research. For example, if you’re planning to swim in anything under 9 degrees Celsius, you’ve got to bring a wetsuit that’s 6mm thick on the torso and 4mm thick on your limbs, as well as, wetsuit boots and a hood. On the contrary, you could surf with board shorts and a rash vest in anything over 23 degrees Celsius.
All in all, it is nothing short of necessary to bring with you all the equipment you might need before you head for the water. Now you know that some equipment are more essential than others depending on your skill level, the area you’ll be surfing in, and what your priorities are. Yet, one thing that isn’t as important is the brand of your gear. While different brands offer different qualities and products, you shouldn’t really over-concern yourself with only getting products that belong to the biggest of names. Instead, look for quality, and not brand popularity. If you’re new to the sport, ask the people at your local surf shop, they’ll recommend some stuff for you, but don’t just waste your money on overly-expensive gear that you might end up throwing away. We wish you happy surfing, enjoy the waters.
In light of the Black Lives Matter protests happening throughout the country, host Stacie Vanags focused the latest episode of the Salted Spirit podcast on the topic of racism. Joining her in the discussion is Rhonda Harper and Dr. Cassie Comley. RELATED: Here is a list of BIPOC Outdoor Organizations You Can Support Harper is most well known for launching Black Girls Surf, an organization that supports black girls and women in surfing with the hopes of making the sport more accessible
I’m not even going to start about my views on people not wearing masks during this lovely time were all going through, but COME ON - do they really need to end up in the ocean too? Kook of the Day points out the obvious in their recent post: if your mask or protective gloves end up in the ocean, you’re a kook. Please dispose of your gross germ-infested mask properly. Like the trash can. We don’t need dolphins and seabirds dealing with more of our human problems because of your laziness.
From the NBA to U.S. Open Tennis, professional athletes have increasingly used their platform and presence to address racial inequality in the United States. Similar acts of peaceful protest are rippling through action sports, most recently with Australian surfer Tyler Wright, who took a knee at the WSL’s Tweed Coast Pro to call attention to racial discrimination within her own country. Like the United States, Australia is grappling with its own troubled history of colonialism, systemic