Best surfing tips for a newbie

vic-docker's picture
vic-docker started the topic in Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010 at 4:41am

I bought a board (7'6") at Easter and have been trying to surf when time and conditions permit. Why I havent done this sooner, I will never know! I am in my early 40's and only wish I did this 20 years ago!!!
I was given a book written by Taj Burrow to read and it has been really informative, but would love to get my hands on a DVD of something similar. Any tips?

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010 at 8:10am

Give it up, take up lawn bowls a much better sport.

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

jbay's picture
jbay's picture
jbay commented Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010 at 11:20am

Hey Vic, Good on ya mate. Just put in the hours and have fun. Stick to a few local breaks so the natives get to know you. Soon they'll be looking forward to what you are going to do next. My nickname was broken arrow when I started. I just laughed and now they are my mates. Surfing is wonderful that way. It's all about fun.

non-local's picture
non-local's picture
non-local commented Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010 at 8:38pm

Unfortunately you have left it way too late in life to actually be able to be accepted at any breaks. Sorry but thats just the way it is, it is a young persons sport, the old guys ripping that you would like to emulate in the surf all started when they were young. Stick to uncrowded places and leave the good waves for the good surfers, that way you will at lest be able to have some fun.

one good turn deserves another

shaun's picture
shaun's picture
shaun commented Tuesday, 19 Oct 2010 at 8:44pm

Unfortunately you have left it way too late in life to actually be able to be accepted at any breaks. Sorry but thats just the way it is, it is a young persons sport, the old guys ripping that you would like to emulate in the surf all started when they were young. Stick to uncrowded places and leave the good waves for the good surfers, that way you will at lest be able to have some fun.

By: "non-local"

Non-local, you have contradicted yourself so many times in those few sntences, I have to assume your taking the piss.

I'm the scab you keep picking off and is there again the next day.

logger's picture
logger's picture
logger commented Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010 at 1:44am

Hey Vic,

Wingnuts art of longboarding is a good tutorial vid, depending on which way you intend on going with your surfing, longer or shorter?

As for breaks, where are you, if the name suggest VIC then there are plenty of easy to access beginner friendly waves to progress with?

vic-docker's picture
vic-docker's picture
vic-docker commented Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010 at 6:53am

Closest beach for me is Torquay, and I must admit I have found the surfers there have been welcoming and encouraging. My inention is not to mix it with the big boys and the experts, but just to go to the uncrowded beaches and tackle the smaller waves. I can admire the skill involved in taking on big waves, but I know my limitations and it's not my goal. I'm happy just to be able to stand and ride on a mid sized wave and not get in anyones way or cause any agro. As for will I get a longer or shorter board, well, not sure. I guess smaller for convenience and storage reasons, but who knows, this time next week I might go the other way

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010 at 7:42am

vic, sounds like you're on the right track. Not sure how much of a beginner you are but it's only a few years ago that I went from a booger to a standup. It was kind of annoying cos I went from being a pretty good bodyboarder to a complete beginner floundering in the shorey.

The thing I found most helpful in learning was paddle fitness and strength. That meant push ups at home and surfing in whatever conditions were on at the time. If it was onshore crumbly closeouts that was a chance to get out there and just practice getting to my feet smoothly over and over. It built up my fitness pretty quickly, and what looked boring from the beach was actually feeling pretty good because I knew when I was progressing. Course when the conditions were better I'd be learning to turn and so on but just being out in the water as much as possible (even on the shitty days) made the difference on the good days.

vic-docker's picture
vic-docker's picture
vic-docker commented Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010 at 10:21pm

Amazing similarity benski. . . got really bored with bodyboarding and found it a bit tame, so decided to up the ante and surf. Bodyboarding I could do easily. I knew that surfing would be harder, just didnt realise how much harder! Have been out in all conditions over the winter, however, for a newbie 4 to 5 foot surf was a tad daunting, so have scaled my prefernces of conditions back a bit, then will gradually build up from there. After reading Taj Burrows book which was quite informative, I got out in very flat conditions and paddled my guts out, then progressed to slightly bigger waves from there. The difference in standing in the water with the board pointing towards the shore and jumping on the board and doing a quick paddle before a broken wave hit compared to paddling before the wave hits was quite significant. I guess thats how all beginners start catching waves! Taj also recommends in his book to put your bord on the sand at the beach and practice your paddling and standing techniques there. So avoid embarrasment, I preferred to do that in the water instead - even if he does say that "you get the respect from other surfers if they see you practicing out of the water" . . . from a bystanders perspective it would look a bit odd!!!
Enough chat for the min anyway, perfect day today 25oC expected and 3-4 foot swell awaits me . . . I'm off for another go!!!

dial's picture
dial's picture
dial commented Wednesday, 20 Oct 2010 at 10:37pm

Age is no barrier it's finding the time. You really need to be surfing almost every day for at least 6 months. If you can find the time you should get there.

Also focus on getting out through the lineup and catching waves. The surfing part isn't all that hard. Its catching the waves and getting to your feet which is hard.

mad9299's picture
mad9299's picture
mad9299 commented Wednesday, 27 Oct 2010 at 3:11am

Hi Vic, I am in a similar situation to you. In my mid forties, mid life crisis according to my ex, started surfing recently. Really enjoying being out in the water however get frustrated, with that that said it only takes one half good wave, one good ride and I will be out there for more. I agree consistency seems to be the key, when I was going out regularly I noticed an improvement, after not going out through the winter, trained for a marathon, I feel as if I am back to square one. With that said I am determined to get back out there and on my feet. Manly is not the most forgiving line up. It is great fun though. I am on a 7' 10", don't think my creeking knees will allow me anything shorter.

vic-docker's picture
vic-docker's picture
vic-docker commented Wednesday, 27 Oct 2010 at 1:21pm

Went out again Tuesday morning in swell 2-3ft. My nephew who can surf came along to give me a few tips. Paddled like buggery and got picked up by a few waves but feel my technique in getting to feet is too slow and end up trying to stand in whitewash, however I am getting to my feet if only briefly. Feel like I am much closer now then I was 6 months ago, but at times I still feel daunted when standing in waist to neck deep water and you see a wave approaching that looks huge but its probably not. Your mind starts playing tricks on you and you find yourself trying to make 1 decision out of 3 . . 1/ Try to catch it, 2/ bail out and dive under wave, 3/bail out and try to jump wave. Hard not to feel intimidated by waves. But still I feel more determined and not discouraged. Back out again Thurs and Fri this week. More practice as I am more determined than ever to conquer this. As soon as I manage to competantly stand up and surf, I will be first to gloat about it here

benski's picture
benski's picture
benski commented Wednesday, 27 Oct 2010 at 3:09pm

Obviously it's hard to offer tips based on descriptions on a web forum but one thing I had to do was change my timing completely from the booger. I start paddling much earlier and from further out than I did on the booger since you can't rely on a lazy couple of kicks and a late drop to make the wave. At first it felt like I was paddling too early but if I sat a bit further out by the time the wave caught up to me I had momentum and it was easy to match its speed and get to my feet before it broke. Basically it was a subtle timing and positioning change that made a big difference. Just got to make sure the wave has definitely got you cos I missed a fair few at the start as they passed beneath me as I was getting to my feet. It might not be the same issue for you, but it made a difference for me. Good luck with it.

ftl's picture
ftl's picture
ftl commented Wednesday, 27 Oct 2010 at 11:30pm

hey vic.
I would ignore the people who say you can't, because anybody can get fun and enjoyment out of surfing. From just the experience of getting into the water as a first learner and learning to paddle, to standing up, to charging 80ft Jaws, it all has its own level of fun.
If you are looking for a suitable wave to learn on I would say try out Pt. Impossible after you have learnt the basics as it is a slow wave suitable for longboarding. Try on a small day so it is less crowded. Try to stay out of people's way though.

jazzy's picture
jazzy's picture
jazzy commented Saturday, 30 Oct 2010 at 9:42pm

as a full on kook b boarder whatever you do out there stay outa my way:(

ezytiger's picture
ezytiger's picture
ezytiger commented Saturday, 6 Nov 2010 at 8:55am

get into it, ive been doin it for 3 months, and love it just get out there and have fun, just get some paddle time in, you can't do much when your gassed!!!! Dont take any notice of rookie haters, we all started once apon a time.......

emmaly14's picture
emmaly14's picture
emmaly14 commented Saturday, 6 Nov 2010 at 11:10pm

im a bit of a learner, but thats just for tricks and stuff,
im helping my friend get into shortboarding,
so if i see you out in the lineup in torquay, ill give you a tip!
just get out there everyday!

vic-docker's picture
vic-docker's picture
vic-docker commented Friday, 19 Nov 2010 at 7:08am

thanks to everyone for your tips, advice and encouragement. I must admit, I've been blown away by the fellow surfers at Torquay (as well as people on here) who are more than happy to have a chin wag, offer advice and encouragement as well. I've been familiarising myself with the beach at Torquay, getting to know where the reefs are, and knowing when and where the best places to catch waves are from.
But, if I decide to venture away from my "comfort zone", what beaches are the best for newbies on the surfcoast and which ones do I stick clear of? (Bells would be the most obvious one here)

tommo2's picture
tommo2's picture
tommo2 commented Saturday, 27 Nov 2010 at 8:11am

As ftl said, go to Point Impossible. Its not far at all from Torquay. Straight out infront of the car park is where you want to go. Its a nice longish right hander and when you get abit more confident you can head out to the outside reef which is a better wave and usually bigger. Its a good wave to learn to push yourself into bigger waves as it is not heavy so if you come off you won't get held down for a long.
Don't worry about all the old blokes that surf there, most off them can't surf and think they rule the joint. Everyone else is happy to have fun.

saltyridersco's picture
saltyridersco's picture
saltyridersco commented Friday, 21 Apr 2017 at 8:09pm

Hey Vic,

Good on you for taking up surfing - age is no limit and those who say otherwise don't know what they are on about!

Majority of people will happily accept you out in the line up, just make sure you follow the surf etiquette rules and you will be fine. I started up a learn to surf blog recently and there are some surf etiquette tips on there. You can check it out here if you like: http://blog.saltyridersco.com/5-tips-beginner-surfers/

Happy surfing!

Surf Longer & Surf Smarter at www.saltyridersco.com

t-rex's picture
t-rex's picture
t-rex commented Saturday, 22 Apr 2017 at 3:53pm

It's not surfing when u start up its paddling and positioning don't think about getting up fast, get up smooth find a technique which works in regards to where u place your hands and whether u pop up in one motion or two and practice . When u r not in the ocean embrace skateboarding, push ups and burpees and use a skipping rope the best surfer is the one having the most fun loving your enthusiasm for the sport froth on good luck

frog's picture
frog's picture
frog commented Thursday, 27 Apr 2017 at 10:16pm

Longer boards really help. Paddle and push up strength makes a huge difference to enable a fast pop up. Hours in the water catching lots of waves which may mean being in the whitewater rather than out the back . Find a gentle rolling wave such as pnt impossible or roadknights. Dont lie too far back on your board as most beginners do . Hope you are not carrying a lot of weight. Paddle really hard so you are definiitely on the wave before standing up or before angling the board. If in any doubt do two more strokes. Get away from the crowd so you catch 20 to 30 waves a session not sit out the back chatting and catching two or three.

I really feel that you can speed up the learning process if you try the above and analyse what you are doing. Ask someone for tips in the water as often your mistakes are super obvious to others.
Helped an older guy recently and over and over he tried to stand up too soon, sat too wide, was lying 2 inches too far back on his board, angled too soon while paddling for waves and lost speed and was too selective wanting just the right wave. All simple to fix. But despite being keen as beans to learn and saying he would listen and did not care if he amde mistakes, in practice, he tended not to do the basics or follow advice. The reason? Fear of failure and the hassle of getting a tumble and being caught inside was a big factor. Older guy loss of nimbleness was another as just standing up seemed a major drama. Also some people are hard wired not to follow advice well.
Ego and pressure not to waste waves in crowded spots limits older surfers as the feel the pressure not to blow waves They will sit wide hoping by some fluke wave to pop up just for them and end up sort of catching very few waves or the weird wrong waves. Surf where that does not matter in slop or fat slow waves. Treat wipeouts and getting caught inside as fun / challenge and part of the exercise routine. Coming home absolutely stuffed from paddling and trying every surf will be a sign you are having a go.

Chatting too much in the lineup makes you lose focus. The more i chat the fewer waves i catch.

If you are nimble i.e. can get up to your feet quickly, even just off the floor, that is a good sign.

You can learn slow or fast it is your choice.

Frogg

Luke G's picture
Luke G's picture
Luke G commented Friday, 28 Apr 2017 at 2:09pm

Give it up, young persons sport, can't be accepted at any breaks. What the f..k? Pfft don't listen to these wankers...

I'd imagine being 40 you'd be pretty stiff, there is a great website resource that a strength and conditioning coach in the states developed its called stretches for surfers, highly recommend you check it out.

Stay on the mal, focus on getting that wave count up and getting a good consistant smooth pop up going, get familiar with the ocean and wave knowledge and more importantly just have fun mate.

Its a great sport and its for everyone, young and old!