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Three Things You Should Know Before Your First Surf Lesson

Posted on Thu, 2016/04/21 - 3:11pm by Jeff Mull

For years, you’ve always wanted to surf. There’s something about being in the elements, surrounded by crashing water and sunshine, that’s called out to you. And now, here at Turtle Bay amid what has so far been a dream vacation, you’re ready to take the plunge. But before you make your way into the lineup, you’d be wise to read over our know-before-you-go list.

A Good Wax Job Makes All The Difference: Surfing is hard. Very, very hard. People spend decades—lifetimes, in many a case—learning the intricacies of the sport. It should almost go without saying that you want to take every step possible to give yourself an advantage. At the forefront of what it takes to surf well, is a good wax job. Without a solid layer of grippy wax tethering your feet to the board, you’re setting yourself up for slippery, f-bomb-laden failure.


Before you go waxing up your board, you should know that there are  two different types of surf wax: cold water and warm water. Because of our perfect climate, we use warm-water wax in Hawaii; California and the East Coast runs on cold water max up until the dog days of summer, or the water temp reaches the mid 70s. Begin by rubbing a bar—we prefer Sticky Bumps—on the deck of your board from the base of the tail to the nose in small circles. Repeat the process over and over again until your board is coated in a thick layer of tacky grip. Now add another layer. When you’re hand begins cramping (we kid, sort of) and you’re board is doused in wax, you’re ready to get in the water.

Keep Your Knees Bent and Your Weight Planted On Your Back Foot: It’s nearly impossible to teach yourself how to surf, that’s why we recommend working with a seasoned instructor who will supply you with all of the fundamentals needed to get you up and riding. But as we mentioned, it can often take a lifetime to go from simply standing up to becoming a half-way decent surfer. But through it all, whether you’re catching your first wave or your 10,000th, there are two things that remain true: always bend at the knees and bend farther than you think, and keep your weight over your backfoot. If you can learn this in the beginning, and implement it throughout every session, it will save you a lifetime of heart ache as you progress.

Find The Right Board: One of the most common mistakes you can make when learning to surf is riding the wrong board. Allow us to be blunt for a moment: when you’re learning, you need a large kooky longboard, loaded with plenty of volume. If you’re pride is telling you that you should be riding a shortboard like the other guys, don’t listen. It will add heaps of misery and frustration, and stunt your growth as a surfer. For the first six months to a year, you should be riding a 9-foot plus longboard / soft top. This shape will allow you to paddle easier, get into waves faster, and ride smoother. You’ll thank yourself later as you move down into other designs.