Staying safe when surfing is extremely important to ensure you & everyone around you can have the maximum amount of fun in the safest environment possible. With winter on the horizon, the Atlantic ocean and many others will be chucking up large swells left, right and centre. That’s why it’s highly important that you make sure you are familiar with everything mentioned on this page before hitting the water, it could just save your life!
Rips & Currents
When waves break they push water towards the shoreline. Once that water reaches the shore, it has to find a way to get back out to sea, and it does this by following the path of least resistance, not against the waves but into deep water channels between the waves. Once the water is in these deeper areas, it can flow back out to sea away from the shoreline. This is the rip and consists of three main parts: The ‘Feeder’ is where the water moves along the shoreline and into the deeper channel. Once it is in the deeper channel and starts flowing back out to sea. It is known as the ‘Neck’. When the water reaches the back of the line-up it disperses and the current stops, this point is known as the ‘Head’.
What to do if you’re in a rip?
The most important thing to do in a rip is to remain calm. If you have a bodyboard or surfboard do NOT let go! Hold on and raise your hand to gain attention. Alternatively, try and paddle parallel to the shoreline to the area where waves are breaking. The waves can then assist you in getting back to shore. If you are unsure where the rip is, always ask a fellow surfer or the lifeguard before entering the water. If swimming, always swim between the red and yellow flags.
Never put anyone at risk!
The ocean is a risky playground and not everyone is an experienced waterman. Here are our tips to surf safely:
- Don’t catch a wave if a person is in front of you (even though they are supposed to move, they might not)
- Don’t throw your surfboard away to swim under waves, always keep hold of your board so you can control it and stop it hitting other surfers.
- Make sure you understand surf etiquette and the line-up.
Always surf within your ability!
One of the most common reasons for people having accidents or getting into dangerous situations is because they are trying to surf in conditions beyond their ability. Be realistic when judging if you should paddle out. You might impress those on the beach when paddling into bigger waves but they won’t be impressed when you’re screaming for help or unable to catch a wave.
Stay safe & keep surfing,
Your Star Surf Camps Crew
Did you know that, according to an Australian study, each year, rip currents kill more surfers and beach holidaymakers than cyclones, bushfires, floods and shark attacks together? Read more in our blog here.