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Shore Surfing

Book Extract

If you have access to a swimming pool in which you can take your board, or more practically, the sea in flat conditions, why not get in some paddling practice? OK, it doesn’t look too cool, but this is one of the most strenuous aspects of learning to surf, and the more you can practise it the better. For more details on paddling technique see the next chapter.

Another useful exercise on dry land is getting to your feet on your board. But make sure you do it on a soft surface, and remove the fins, otherwise you could easily damage your board. This is only really recommended for soft skin and pop-out boards – custom fibreglass boards will damage too easily.

To do this, first of all lie on your board. Assuming that you have a good beginner’s board of around 7ft 6in / 2.30m in length, you should have your feet about 6 inches / 15cms from the back of the board when you’re lying on it. This will obviously depend on how tall you are, but basically there should be about 10-12 inches / 30cms of the nose of the board lifted off the water surface when you are paddling it if your weight is distributed evenly on the deck. As the board is not on the water you can’t really judge that, but you can usually sense what feels right.

Put both hands flat on the deck directly under your shoulders and push up as if you were actually doing a push-up. Take your body weight on your arms and hands. Once your upper body is off the board, bring your forward leg up under your chin, at the same time twisting your hips so your backside faces out to one side.

Your rear foot should follow so that you are now in a crouching position with your feet about shoulder width apart down the centreline of the board. Quickly stand up straight, with both feet flat on the board and keeping them the same width apart, and your arms out to your sides for balance. Both feet should have the stringer running under the middle of them, and be at approximately 90 degrees to the stringer along the centreline of the board.

This whole movement should take less than a second to perform in one fluid motion. Don’t worry if it’s a bit stilted at first, as it will come in time. Watch experienced surfers taking off on a wave and you hardly even notice them get to their feet – they seem to be suddenly standing and riding. Try to avoid introducing a ‘halfway’ stage of kneeling on the board before getting to your feet. Once you’re on a wave this will make getting to your feet both slower and more difficult, and it’s a very bad habit to get into – you’ll never see an experienced surfer do this.


© Not to be reproduced without written permission from Fernhurst Books Limited.

Surfing: A Beginner’s Guide is written by Alf Alderson. Alf is an award-winning freelance journalist and photographer who splits his time between the Pembrokeshire coast and the French Alps. He specialises in adventure sports and travel journalism, and his writing has appeared in a wide range of publications and websites including The Guardian, Daily Telegraph, Independent, Toronto Globe & Mail, South China Morning Post, Financial Times, Abu Dhabi National, Coast Magazine and a wide range of surfing and skiing magazines and websites. With four decades of surfing behind him in almost every corner of the globe, Alf is a regular fount of knowledge for all things surfing.

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