When you first get to the beach, all wet-suited and booted, your surfboard waxed and ready, all you want to do is get out back and surf. Especially if the waves are good. We know the feeling, believe us!
But the sea can be a dangerous place if you don’t know how to handle it. So, when you first get to the beach, make sure you take 5 to 10 minutes to familiarise yourself with what’s in front of you: What’s the setup? Where are you going to position yourself in the lineup? Are there any big sets coming through that you need to watch out for? Are there any lifeguards on duty? Where is the best place to paddle out? Can you see any rip currents?
When surfing you will inevitably encounter rip currents. When you become more advanced you can use them to your advantage to get you “out back” quicker, but as a beginner it can be a really scary situation if you don’t know what is going on or what to do to fix it. It has happened to us all, but by knowing just a few basic bits of information it’s not something you need to worry about.
Rips are strong currents running out to sea, which can quickly drag people away from the shallows and out to deeper water. They tend to flow at 1–2mph but can reach 4–5mph, rips are especially powerful in larger surf, but don’t underestimate the power of a rip in any size surf.
Rip currents can be difficult to spot, but are sometimes identified by a channel of churning, choppy water on the sea’s surface. Even the most experienced surfers can be caught out by rips, so don’t be afraid to ask lifeguards for advice. They will show you how you can identify and avoid rips on a specific beach. The best way to avoid rips as a beginner is to choose a lifeguarded beach and always surf between the black and white flags, which have been marked based on where it is safer to surf in the current conditions. This also helps you to be spotted more easily, should something go wrong.
If you do find yourself caught in a rip current the first thing is to not panic and then try and follow these points:
– Don’t try to swim against it or you’ll get exhausted.
– Use the breaking wave to help you get towards the shore, or out of the rip.
– If you can, paddle parallel to the shore until free of the rip and then head for shore.
– Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and shout for help. Most other surfers will be happy to help out.
Learning to Surf with Star Surf Camps
When learning to surf with us in one of our surf camps, per week, our surf camp guests receive 12 hours of surf lessons. This includes 5x 2 hours practical surf lessons on the beach as well as 2 hours of surf theory in the surf camp, teaching you about water safety, rip currents and the intricacies of different types of waves breaks.
During your weeks’ surf course, our surf instructors teach you the essentials of surfing such as how to paddle into waves, catching waves, standing up and controlling your surfboard. We use ‘foamies’ for our surf lessons which are great for beginners to catch the most waves.
All our surf instructors are qualified, fully licensed in the country they teach surfing in and have a lifeguarding qualification. They have a good understanding of the wave conditions and local surf spots and are always ready to lend you a helping hand. The maximum group size for our surf lessons is eight surfers per one instructor plus one surf assistant if required. The use of surf equipment (surfboard, leash and wetsuit) is included in your surf lessons.
Stay safe, guys, wherever you go surfing!
See y’all outback
Your Star Surf Camps Team