Want to get involved in the worlds best sport this summer and learn to surf? We have compiled this guide to help you navigate the confusion we all go through when taking up a new sport
If you still have questions/need more advise please reach out! There are a lot of decades surfing experience between the Slimes Newcastle staff...
We strongly recommend having surfing lessons to get you started, a surf coach early on will show you the correct technique, teach you about equipment and the ocean and speed up/improve your learning curve moving forwards.
Slimes Newcastle works closely with Learn to Surf Newcastle who have been operating in Newcastle for over two decades run by Miles Niddrie. The school is mobile with licenses from Catherine Hill bay to Stockton to ensure you're in the best possible/most suitable conditions every time. Learn to Surf Newcastle offers lessons from young grommets to adults, beginners to advanced surfers and in a group or private setting.
In this aspect, surfing is the same as most things in life - the correct gear will make things a lot easier and more enjoyable!
BIGGER IS BETTER. The more volume in your first board (aka the bigger it is including length, width and thickness), the easier it will be to catch a wave and stand up on it. We constantly see customers trying to skip the beginner stage with a board that's too advanced for them, but this makes learning extremely difficult and they either never progress, or get better a lot slower than they should.
Board volume (measured in Litres) is the best guide her. For example, a 7'0 x 18 1/2 x 2 - 30L is probably too small for you to learn on whereas a 6'6 x 21 3/4 x 3 - 47L would be a lot better. Fitness and age are also important but here is a rough guide:
- 30-40kg - 30L
- 40-50kg - 40L
- 50-60kg - 50L
- 60-70kg - 60L
- 70-80kg - 70L
- 80-90kg - 80L
- 90kg+ - 90L
It is also worth considering how often you will be surfing; if its every day, all year around you will progress much faster than someone who only surfs once a week in summer
There are many different options when picking a board to learn on, ideally you will want to use a softboard as it won't hurt if you get hit by it or accidentally run into anyone. The Ocean & Earth Ezi Rider is a perfect example of this and you can see all softboards here
Although there has recently been an introduction of hybrid soft boards that have a real, glassed surfboard inside and a foam wrap around, giving it a more surf board like feel but still allowing for better paddling and flotation due to the foam skin around it. This will make minimal difference when starting out, but allow more progression down the line as you start learning to turn. Examples of this construction suitable for beginners are the JS Big Baron Softboard and O&E x Creative Army General
Although its not as safe/easy you can also learn to surf on a fiberglass board, just stick to the above volume guide as best you can (softboards typically pack in a lot more volume so bigger learners will struggle to find an 80L surfboard). It's generally harder to find a 2nd hand board with high volume, but if you get your hands on one check its condition first. Compression dings are common, but it should be watertight so that there are no cracks or foam exposed around these dings.
Legropes, Fins, Wax & Wetsuits
Once you've found the right board, you'll need a few other things such as a leg rope as you don't want to be swimming after a lost board in the surf. When picking the leg rope you want to go roughly the same size as your board eg. a 6'4 surf board requires a 6'0 foot leg rope and son on. You'll also need fins for the board if they don't already come with it, don't stress too much on specific fins as you just need a basic set that will fit the plug system and allow the board to hold in the surf. If you are learning on a fiberglass board you will also need some wax which comes in different hardness based on the water temperature.
Also the time of year you decide to learn to surf will dictate the gear you need to wear in the ocean. If you are in the Newcastle region and decide to learn in winter it would be best to get a 3/2mm Steamer which has long arms and long legs. If it's in summer you would be best to use a spring suit which is 2/2mm and has short arms/legs, alternatively you can use a wetsuit top which range in 0.5mm - 2mm in thickness.
The Best Surfing Conditions
Ideally when searching for the right wave, you'll want to go somewhere away from the crowd to minimise the chance of getting in others way and maximising your wave count. Your first few surfs it is best to start surfing the white wash near the shore, as you can learn the basics of getting up on a wave and learning to paddle. Lastly, make sure not to go out in big surf at the beginning as this can be dangerous for yourself and others - you'll want to start in waves anything from 3 foot and under (1 metre)
Make sure you have learnt the rules of surf etiquette too before you decide to surf within a crowded line up:
- Don't drop in
- Don't Snake waves
- Do apologise if you get in someone's way
- Don't ditch your board when paddling out the back
- Paddle to the broken side of the wave if a surfer is on it when paddling out
- Respect the locals
- Surf in waves of your ability
- Respect the beach
- Have Fun!
Written by Tim Dickson & Dan Balken