It's always a bad
idea to just paddle out into the waves without first getting a good
idea of what the conditions are like. In December, 1995, a young
surfer did just that at Tropics in Ventura, paddling out into what
he thought was head-high surf when it was twice that size and
Take some time to
watch the waves and stretch. Focus on your neck, shoulders, triceps,
back, and legs. Swing your arms and get your pulse going. Get into a
calm state of mind.
Watch the waves
for at least twice as many minutes as the waves are high on the face
in feet. On a waist high day, that means watching for about 5 or 6
minutes. On a double-overhead day, that means watching for about 20
minutes. Get a feel for where everyone is sitting in the water,
where the waves are breaking, and where they're not breaking. Look
for rip currents and rocks and hazards. Watch a few larger set waves
roll through. Think about where you can paddle out into the surf,
and where you can swim in if you get into trouble.
Put some sunscreen
on your face and some wax on your board. Before attaching your leash
for the first time, you'll need to figure out which leg is your back
leg. Here are some tests:
The linoleum slide
test -- wear socks and run and slide across the kitchen floor. Which
foot is first? Plant it front on your board.
The push test --
have someone push you (gently) from behind. Which foot goes forward.
That is your front foot.
The stair test --
which foot leads on stairs, down? Front foot.
Bike test -- When
you bike and coast, which foot leads on fast downhills on dirt when
feet are parallel to ground (well that's just me on dirt, but you
should have pedal cranks parallel to ground so feet don't hit racks
roots etc.). Front foot on board.
The best way to
figure this out is to try riding a skateboard; your back leg while
skateboarding is the same as while surfing.