Surfing Safety

Surfing Safety is ASI’s number one priority.

Surfing is now more popular than ever.  

Many of you will be taking to the waves for the first time.   You’ve got your surfboard and you hit the waves.  However, unless you have some basic surfing safety knowledge, it’s easy to get in over your head.  

Here’s some tips to help you stay safe whilst surfing.

1.  The Golden Rule of Surfing Safety

Never go surfing in water that you are unsure of:
Where the surf is larger than your ability

Ask yourself:
“would you still be able to swim in that surf and back to the shore if your leash (leg-rope) breaks and you lose your board?

If you don’t think so,
Dont go surfing until the conditions are more suitable for you.

2.  Knowledge of the Ocean

As simple as it sounds, the ocean and waves can be unpredictable at the best of times.   Knowing about the different types of waves and how waves break will help you determine what waves to catch and which ones to stay away from.

3.  Don’t be Washed Away

Rips and currents are one of the major hazards for inexperienced surfers.  They can carry you far out to sea or into large breaking waves.   Make sure you can identify where rips and currents are and stay away from them.   Patrolled beaches usually have signs on the beach identifying where the rips and currents are.  Look out for them.

4.  Learn the Surf Lingo

Surfing has a language all of its own.  Experienced surfers use not only surfing terms, but also shouts and signals when out in the water.  If you are out paddling in the water and you hear a shout or whistle, it is probably an experienced surfer surfing on a wave and heading towards you.  It means “watch out, I’m coming through”.  

5.  Have Surfing Awareness

Don’t be a UFO – an  “Unidentified Floating Object”.   This is the term commonly used by experienced surfers for surfers who have little surfing awareness.  When out in the water, be constantly aware of all that is happening around you to ensure you are not an obstacle (hazard or danger) to other surfers and swimmers.

6.  Understand Surfing Rules 

Just like any other sport, surfing has rules to ensure surfing is safe.   The one major rule in surfing is the rule of “dropping in”.  This is where you drop in on a wave another surfer has priority on.  Make sure you understand who has priority on the wave so you do not take someone else’s wave.

7.   Don’t Over Do It

Surfing requires a high level of physical fitness.  You get a really good workout as you are constantly using your energy to paddle and catch waves.  Experienced surfers are well turned fitness machines, having spent thousands of hours in the water.   

Make sure you do not overdo it.  When you are tired, you may not be able to stay afloat if you lose your surfboard.   When you start to get tired, go into shore, have a rest.  Go back out when you are rested.

8.   Stay Cool

If you find yourself in areas where experienced surfers are heading straight towards you, keep calm.  Experienced surfers will have seen you and will adjust their line of surfing to go around you.  Stay on your surfboard, do not panic, do not jump off your board.  To do so can result in the experienced surfer not being able to adjust their line at the last minute and you could both collide.

9.  Surf Rage

Don’t be a part of it.  Surfing is a sport that is in harmony with nature.   Surf rage generally occurs when inexperienced surfers break the surfing rules or panic and put other surfers at danger.    So chill out, learn the rules and develop surf awareness and have fun.

10.  Respect Experienced Surfers

Experienced surfers have a respect and understanding of the ocean developed over many hours of surfing.  The goal is to surf good waves, have fun and do it in a safe way.   If a more experienced surfer than you offers you some advice, take heed.   They could be offering you pearls of wisdom to help you perfect your surfing or be helping to ensure you surf safely and not put yourself and others at risk.   

11.   Be Surf Savvy

Knowing more about the sport will ensure you surf safely.   
Check out your local surf school and get as much information about surfing before you hit the water.   
Enrol in the ASI Surf Wise learn to surf programs at ASI accredited surf schools.
ASI also publishes learn to surf manuals that provide information on ocean and surf safety.  You can purchase these on the ASI Shop.

Surfing is a great past-time that can be enjoyed by all.  The more educated you are about surfing, the more fun, easier to do, and safer it is.