With all the new south swell that’s hitting us this week, beginner and intermediate surfers must remember to keep themselves and others safe in the lineup. When a new swell rises, and we get rather large and fun surf, here are some things to remember:

Keep at the breaks you know

The worst time to visit a new break is when the surf is out of your comfort zone. Don’t test your ALL your limits at once. Surf breaks you’re familiar with when the waves are heavier, it’s how you improve as a surfer while being smart about it. When you want to step outside your comfort zone a little bit, make one step at a time. Try new breaks when the waves are manageable for you.

Watch the waves before you go out

We at Learn to Surf emphasize reading the water. Watch a few sets come in, count the waves in each set, see how each wave is breaking, and how long you have between each wave. These are things that we do most every time we surf anyway, but on bigger days, we need to do it with extra focus and attention. The more we understand the break that day, the more confident you’ll feel knowing which waves to take in what set, and where you should position yourself. Pick a good paddle out spot where the water is being carried back out, time your entry just right, and make sure not to forget your proper paddle and duck dive technique.

Respect the lineup, and the ocean

Size will bring the best surfers out into the lineup. New surfers tend to stay away that day. If you don’t feel as comfortable as some of the other surfers around you, know it and be aware of it. Stay on the shoulder if you have to, and if you insert yourself in the lineup, remember etiquette. Don’t go for any wave you don’t have priority on, and if you’re not sure, wait for the next one. It’s better to be sure, because when you are, you can test yourself and go for it. Or not. It’s also okay to say no. Know your limits! If there’s anything you do on a big day, make sure it’s that.

Relax, even when in danger

If you wipe out, take a drop you couldn’t handle, get caught inside on a big set, can’t get up for air, you lose your board, etc (that’s a lot!) …stay calm. Nobody ever found their way to safety by panicking. Again, it’s okay to nope on outta there.

And IF you do lose your board, don’t use so much energy. Try to jellyfish your way back to the shore, by letting the current push you toward the shore. Don’t fight the current, because you’ll never win if you do.

ALL that being said…

Big days are what surfers look forward to! This is just a quick write-up of the things your surf guru dad would tell you on your first huge swell day. Take it, know it, store it, use it when needed. And have fun out there!

Written by Learn To Surf instructor, Jake McNulty.
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