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Surfing - Judging The Ocean For Surfers

Sep 13, 2008
Paddling, catching a wave and being safe are all heavily dependent on that ability.

Picking the right conditions is the first consideration.

The weather should not be too severe. Surfing in heavy rain is a bad idea. It limits visibility, makes it harder to stay on your board and more difficult for rescuers to help you if that becomes necessary. Wind can cause similar problems. It makes big, cool-looking swells, but for beginners the chaotic water movements are usually too rough to handle.

Choosing waves of the right size, less than 4 feet (1.2 m) for novices, is the first, most obvious criterion. But equally important is the shape and near-future direction of the waves. That's a hard thing to judge because they come in a huge variety.

A good wave builds up from a rounded swell into a gradual 'C'-shaped body of water. As the 'C' is forming, you want to get positioned and start paddling. By the time the 'C' has fully formed, it's too late to get up the momentum needed to go with the wave. It will pass you by and set you down without carrying you forward.

Look over your shoulder as you sit out beyond the break to give yourself plenty of time to catch it at the right moment. A square wave, like a flattened letter 'A' is beyond hope. You need to look for ones that rise steeply, so a face forms that your board can ride against. Dipping the tail gives the water a surface to push against. But if that wall is too flat, there's too little forward momentum.

If you catch that wave too late, just as it starts to pitch over, the water will dump you into the deep. If that happens, stay under a moment to give the water time to sweep past. That will make it easier to rise and prevent you from getting another head bashing as the wave bulk continues to move forward.

If you are too far forward, the wave simply crashes on top of you, again pushing you down and under. If you wait too long, you'll end up in a chaotic swirl of white water that is much harder to surf in.

That's about the same as catching a wave that doesn't form up into a 'C', that just flows by in the shape of a mound. Better to be a little farther out, so you can paddle in, or closer in so you can catch a wave after it has been moving toward shore for a few seconds.

Follow the experienced surfers and you'll quickly see where is the right position to start and the right moment to move.

As a surfer, always remember to protect your skin from the sun UV radiation. The best method is wearing sun protection swimwear, sunglasses, and applying sunscreens on exposed skin.
About the Author
J Edmond have been working in the sun protection clothing industry for several years. The main aim is to raise awareness of the sun' UV radiation and it's effect on human skin. Click here for more info about sun protection swimwear and UV protective clothing.
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