The basics of learning to surf

Captain James Cook provided the first known report of surfing in 1779 when he described the 'difficult and dangerous manoeuvres' of Hawaiians on their boards. . Modern surfing is a far cry from the days less than a century ago in Australia, when few "bathers" ventured further than waist high into the rolling waves. The sport caught on in North America, too. Here some tips and basic on learning how to surf.

The basics of learning to surf

The basics of surfing

As with body surfing, novice riders should not immediately try to join the experienced boardriders waiting for a wave out beyond the breakers.

It is wise to learn the basic skills in shallow water close to shore, lying down on the surfboard and using it like a bodyboard to catch breaking waves of about half a metre (1 1/2 feet) in height.

Learning to stand and turn

  • Once you have an understanding of the board's handling characteristics you can move to a kneeling, and then a standing, position.
  • When attempting to stand on the board there is no substitute for standing straight up; half-hearted or hesitant learners, reluctant to loosen their grip on the sides of the board, are doomed to failure.
  • Balance and control are achieved by placing one foot (usually the left) well forward, pointing ahead, with the rear foot placed at 90 degrees to the long axis of the board, while keeping the legs bent.
  • To turn the board, the rider's weight is placed on the back foot, the body is twisted in the desired direction, and the front foot is used to guide the board round.
  • The boardrider must shift weight constantly from one foot to the other during a ride in order to remain on the board and continue being carried by the wave.

Mastering these skills takes practice. By practicing these common skills and hitting the water day after day, you'll slowly begin to learn the way of the waves and be more comfortable on your board. Remember to follow basic water safety and always surf with a buddy.

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