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Posted by Rick Civelli | 02.27.2012 | Surfing Lessons

Bunny Slope or Black Diamond? Ideal Conditions for the Beginner Surfer

learn to surfSo you’re ready to learn how to surf and feel the magic of riding waves. Awesome! What may come to mind is that you need big waves in order to learn to surf correctly. This is a misconception that many beginner surfers have. Small, clean waves provide the best conditions for learning. Wipeouts, endless paddling, and nose dives can leave a novice surfer exhausted on the beach, reluctant to attempt another session. Just as a beginner skier wouldn’t start out on a black diamond, a new surfer shouldn’t start out in head-high waves. It’s best to start on the bunny slope and work your way up to the black diamond!

In general, beginners want to find a beach break with waves that slowly crumble over a sandy, flat bottom. Many surf breaks around the world occur over sharp coral reefs which can be a recipe for disaster, especially for the novice surfer. Large, powerful waves present a high element of danger to the beginner surfer and can cause injury. Selecting a location with warm water will keep a beginner surfer more comfortable, while also avoiding the restriction of wetsuits.

crowded lineupAnother factor to consider when paddling out is crowds. It’s best not to paddle directly into a crowded lineup when you are still honing your surfing skills; you’ll likely be a hazard. Surfing alone isn’t a good idea either because there’s nobody to help you in case something goes wrong.  Paddle out where there are people present but not right on top of them where you’ll be in the way. It is best to have a fundamental knowledge of surfing safety before paddling into the lineup.

The next factor you’ll want to consider is choosing the right surfboard. Without the proper board it’s easy to get frustrated or even give up. When learning to surf, the most important element will be paddling and stability. Starting out, you’ll want a longboard that has wide thick dimensions for an overall large volume. It will feel bulky but it will be stable and paddle easily. As you progress, you will care more about speed and maneuverability, but to start, catching the wave is your number one goal. It’s all about paddling. Shorter boards provide less flotation and are therefore much harder to paddle into waves and stand up on.

surf lesson

The warm waters of southeastern North Carolina provide perfect conditions for the beginner surfer. Sandy beaches, gentle rolling waves, and warm, emerald green waters create a welcoming learning environment for everyone. Hands-on experience from a professional instructor will provide the basics on how to read waves, paddle out, pop up, and get into the proper positioning. These are the fundamentals that should not be missed. Consider taking a surfing lesson to project yourself over the many hurdles and steep learning curve that accompanies trying to learn on your own. If you learn the right way, your experience will become more enjoyable and you will learn so much more, much sooner.