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A Beginner's Guide to Hitting the Waves (Without Splashing Out)

Aug 26, 2007
If you've tried surfing and want to give it a go for real, then you have a number of options as to how to get equipped.

Online surf shops give you convenience, savings and extended product lines, which are ideal if you are buying in bulk. Visiting a bricks-and-mortar surf shop gives you a personalised service, the chance to try things on, and the atmosphere of surf passion that devotees to the sport exude. However, unless you have money to throw around, there's no reason why you couldn't visit a bricks and mortar surf shop once you are already on the waves.

Places to find surfing equipment

Online surf shops allow you to avoid paying a premium for shop-floor space, and benefit from an extended product line that extends well beyond standard surfboards and wetsuits to include things like training DVDs and books to keep you inspired. While you won't have the advantage of trying items on for size, you can often receive expert information by email or phone to help you decide on products, and other services like email newsletters to keep you updated. These surf shops are often started by surfing experts, who want to make the most of their knowledge without having the drawback of wasting valuable surf time indoors. Delivery charges will vary, but there will often be incentives for larger purchases.

How to choose a wetsuit

The main brands of wetsuit include O'Neill, Rip Curl, Alder and Quicksilver. Your choice will depend on the conditions you are surfing in: a winter surfer will need a full-length wetsuit made from a thick layer of neoprene. There are shorter wetsuits available for summer surfers, and outfits designed for women and younger surfers. Any good surf shop should offer you a choice of brands in each style, and other items such as rash vests, which look like a "mini wetsuit", and have become a fashion item in their own right.

How to choose a surfboard

Surfboards come in a range of longboards, mini mals, shortboards and pop-outs. Longboards, softboards, mini mals and pop-outs (which are mass-produced) are all recommended for beginners, but your choice should depend on the frequency of surfing, fitness levels and height -you need to choose a surfboard that is at least 6 inches taller than you are. Thicker, lighter boards, such as softboards, are ideal for beginners and children, but longboards offer the chance for developing new skills.

Key brands include Al Merrick Channel Islands, Santa Cruz, Hawaiian Soul, Dewey Weber, Con and Bing Surfboards, and come in a variety of materials. Your chosen surf shop should offer you the opportunity to buy stock from other suppliers, and have a reasonable returns policy, although you may be expected to cover any postage costs involved.
About the Author
Shaun Parker has been at the forefront of the surfing industry bringing the latest in surf fashion to the public. Surf Shop
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