GP Goes Down Under for Our First Surfing Lesson

Surf Tips for the Zoo; And By Zoo, I Mean City Beaches


By Guest Writer and Outdoor Enthusiast Roger Dawkins

Surfing at a crowded city beach can be a real adventure. I’ve been living at Bondi in Sydney for a few years now and I’ve seen it all: guys trying to learn on tiny toothpicks that wouldn’t float a kid, others tossing their massive boards aside when a wave comes and injuring half a dozen pregnant women and toddlers in their wake, and some just copping a sweet king-hit in the face from an angry local. If you’re learning to surf somewhere that often looks more than a zoo than a beach, hit the jump for some tips that might help.

Crowded Beach Surfing Tips

1. Go Small: For your first board, stick with a mini malibu, in traditional fiberglass or Tuflite (not plastic). These materials will maintain they’re value better so you can eventually shift your board and get something smaller. Learning at a city beach is good because backpackers from Brazil and Ireland are always around for when it’s time to offload your unwanted property.

2. Rest Carefully: For the love of god don’t a) rest your board against a wall while you drink a latte or something ‘cos it will fall and smash and then your beautiful dream of surfing will be over; b) stand your board tail down while you rinse it in the showers ‘cos the end will crack and then it’ll fill with water next time you surf it and go a horrible brown and that Brazilian neighbor of yours (see tip 2) won’t want to buy it any more.

3. Protect:  For protection always use a travel cover on public transport, one with a strap (not a sock cover: they suck). And dry your board before zipping it up ‘cos if you don’t the saltwater will seize the zip up and you’ll be down there in the car park one freezing morning swearing and cursing at the thing.

4. Look Once:  When you’re jogging down to the water’s edge you can look at the pretty girls on the beach once, but once only. Take a good hard look the first time, ‘cos seconds are for perverts.

5. Eskimo Roll:   If you’re paddling out and a wave is gonna break on your head, don’t chuck your board and dive under. If some punter is behind you, you’ll kill ’em and then they’ll kill you. You need to “Eskimo roll,” which means rolling off your board while still holding onto the sides, creating a kind of corkscrew motion through the oncoming wave.

6. Right Of Way:  “Right of way” is a vital concept in crowded surf that may save you an earful of profanities. Waves break from left to right or right to left. When paddling for a wave the guy closest to the foamy broken part of the wave (it could be on their left or right side) has right of way, meaning you must stop paddling and let him/her have it. You’ll get used to positioning yourself so you have right of way too, but always give way and never catch a wave someone is already surfing.

7. Word of Advice:  As a general rule, stay away from they guy with the zip codes of the beach tattooed on their person. Look twice at their pretty girlfriend or ignore right of way and scary tattoo man will be more than happy to point out your misgivings.

If you’re a learner surfer let loose on the crowds, then hopefully these tips will stand you in good stead. Who am I to give them? Just a guy who wished he knew better years ago.