By Devon DeMint of The Mermaid Chronicles
Skill Level: Beginner to Intermediate
The most important thing I think I can pass on to anyone about surfing is that you must become a student of the ocean. This means using every opportunity you have when you are down by the water to study what goes on.
Know the beach
• Is it a point break, beach break or reef break?
• Notice where to get in and out safely.
• What is below the waves you want to surf? Sandy bottoms are softer, but reefs and rock bottoms are more predictable.
Read Surf and Tide Forecasts
• Know the direction of the swell and the tide before you arrive.
• Develop an understanding of what the swell direction and tides mean for the spot you plan to surf.
Watch Other People
• How do they get in and out?
• Assess the skills of those out so you can avoid hazardous surfers and be mindful of experienced ones.
• If you plan to surf a more localized spot, try to learn who the locals are. It is respectful to give them priority on waves.
Watch the Waves
• Are there only rights, only lefts, or both?
• Estimate wave size and difficulty.
• Identify hazards such as rip currents or sharp rocks.
• Understand where the small, medium and larger waves break.
• Determine which waves you will most likely want to ride and where you need to sit to catch them.
• Is there a channel you can paddle out in or sit in if a set comes?
• Beach Break: a sand bottom surf spot with a combination of left and right breaking waves.
• Channel: a deep spot in the lineup where waves break more gently or not at all.
• Point Break: a rock, reef or sand bottom spot where waves wrap around a point and break in the same direction.
• Reef Break: a reef bottom break which could consist of live or dead coral; may have a combination of lefts and rights or it could be a point break.
Have fun out there and be mindful!