Thunderstorms, Lightning, You, and How to Be Safe

Central Florida and weather go hand in hand. Weather is a constant and changes all the time. We are subject to different types of weather from the arctic cold to blistering hot depending what time of year it is. Here in central Florida we have many times where we will see and encounter thunderstorms. Thunderstorms come mostly in the summer time when the weather is hot, and humid, but we still have the opportunity to have these during the fall, winter, and spring. If you live in Orlando, Tampa, Daytona Beach, Cocoa Beach, Melbourne Beach, or any other town or city you can expect to have this happen at some point in time. Most of bad weather, thunderstorms, and lightning happen during the warmer more humid days of summer. For this reason it is really important to understand and follow some guidelines for weather safety, indoors and outdoors. If you are caught outside in a lightning storm what to do, and if in the home the do’s and dont’s for making this a safer encounter.

Bad or inclement weather happens more frequently during the days of summer when most people are in the great outdoors. Going to the beach, playing sports, or just out for a walk in the park. Thunderstorms spark static electricity in the form of lightning. As the air heats up from the early morning, it rises against gravity’s pull downward (the thing that keeps out feet firmly planted on the ground). As moisture rises we have the formation of clouds in the sky. As the land heats more during the early to mid morning, we see more and more definement to cloud formations. As the clouds thicken, they build higher and higher into the upper atmosphere, water droplets rise up into the higher altitudes and they start to get colder, therefore freezing into ice crystals. As the clouds thicken more and more the small droplets go up and then refreeze. During this process of cloud formation this cycle happens over and over again. Sometimes this leads to hail which is another form of cloud formation and weather.

The clouds are building higher and higher. Before you know it we get rain. The rain a lot of time carries lightning and the sound of thunder. The sound of thunder is a by product of the lightning piercing through the air as such a rate of speed that the air claps back together with such force we get the boom sound. The sound that comes after the flash in the sky is measure in time and distance. For every 5 seconds that pass after the flash of lightning measures roughly 1 mile in distance from the strike. So if you see the flash of lightning and don’t hear the sound of boom for 20 seconds, the distance is roughly 4 miles. Lightning is a very strong static current of electricity. This power of over 1 million volts can power the city of Palm Bay Fla for one 24 hour period. The biggest difference to regular electricity is that is captured and brought into your home or business through the power wires outside and in the walls of the structure. Lightning is the number 2 killer in the state, next to rip currents. Lightning can cause you problems in the outdoors and indoors if you don’t heed the warnings and practice some key things to be safe.

Outdoors you have very little cover from bad weather and lightning. Tall objects attract the powerful bolts which can split trees, zap people, start forest fires, burn out the internal circuitry of you house hold items, TV, DVD, microwave, radio, stereo, and anything you have plugged into the electrical outlets in you home or business. When outside and you are noticing that the storms seem to be moving in quickly, leave the open areas as quickly as possible. Head for you autos and make you way off the beaches, or open outdoor places. If you get caught by a fast moving thunderstorm you will know what I experienced a few times after being caught with really no where to hide from bad weather. Lightning can travel multiple miles before coming in contact with the ground and therefore you. You best know the rules for getting out of the path of lightning. I was in middle north west Floria outside Ocala and got caught while in my truck in a bad lightning storm. The sound of lightning ripping through the air sounded like bacon frying in the pan, then as fast as the flash of bright light, KA BOOM!!. This was literal enough to make you poop in your pants. While boating in the Fl Keys, my uncle tried to out run a storm in his boat. Needless to say, he ran aground missing the channel and I had to get in the water and push the boat out of the turtle grass while hiding behind the motor to duck out of the way of the crazy lightning strikes. While training for bike racing, I used to ride only to get caught in the radical thunderstorms of the early afternoons. I used to hide in the stairwells of buildings as the storm passed, lightning cracking, thunder booming, and like most people I hid and waited for this to pass.

Tips for being safe in the outside world when thunderstorms come in a charging. 1. get out of Dodge. Pack your thing way in advance and leave your outdoor retreat area. Get a least into your automobile. If that doesn’t work, seek shelter in a building nearby. DO NOT RUN FOR A TALL OBJECT!! Stay away from trees or other tall structures. Lightning seeks to strike the highest point so you should be away from these places. If you get caught outside in a thunderstorm and can’t make it to a safe area, find the lowest place you can find. A ditch, hole in the ground, or a low lying location that will likely not attract the random striking of lightning. If you notice that the hair on you head or arms is up, dive down and watch out. It’s not the main bolt that will likely strike you, it’s the feeder bands that strike outward from the main bolt. Look up lightning on Google and check out the images to get a better idea of what it looks like and how you can be struck. Don’t go surfing in a thunderstorm because like one South Florida surfer knows, you can be struck and he was after not leaving Sebastian Inlet when a storm passed.

Indoor lightning safety is also very important. When you home, office, or apartment  is being bombarded with lightning, you should not take a shower, talk on the phone, and look out the window or an open door. Since the roof line is higher up in the sky, lightning could very well strike you home and in many cases it does. Case in point, a multi million dollar home was destroyed by fire after lightning struck the home while the owners were out of town. Lightning strikes have happened to people who were talking on the phone during a thunderstorm after the lightning struck the power pole and the energy ran through the metal lines into the home where the person was on the phone. Metal pipes, wires, and other things used to build you home, apt, or office are conductors. If lightning hits nearby it will travel through those things and end up inside. I visited a friends home after lightning hit right next to his place, and all electrical appliances were destroyed by the surge of power from the bolt.

Always remember that if you see lightning and the sound of thunder is within 20 seconds, head inside. Lightning travels over 20 miles from cloud to cloud then cloud to ground, so be for warned. Stay clear and unplug your electrical appliances, or buy surge protectors to provide that extra piece of mind and keep those high dollar electronics safe. Thunderstorms and lightning are no fun to be in, so keep yourself safe and live to talk about your encounter. Living in Florida we get our fair share of thunderstorms from the summer rainy season to strong cold fronts marching in during the fall, winter, and spring months. If you live in Florida, you will see and most likely be in a thunderstorm so play it safe and remember you can go back outside 30 minutes after the last sound of thunder has passed. You’ll be happy that you followed some key guidelines on lightning safety. Enjoy the great Florida outdoors and be prepared.

Proper Surfing Etiquette and Surf Conduct

As long as surfing has been real popular (1960’s and later) surfers have to be aware of others in the lineup or in the ocean. Surfing became rather popular from the music of the Beach Boys, Jan and Dean, and the Ventures (to name a few). One thing that has happened is that more and more surfers started showing up at beaches everywhere. Being aggressive by nature and territorial, surfers get into altercations with each other over waves or riding waves with other surfers on them. Not all surfers are alike, but one thing we do have in common is that we had to learn just like everyone else had to.

Early surfing civilization has a scarcity of crowds, not that many people were in the water at the same spot, at the same time. Well have times changed! Today there are thousands and thousands of surfers from all different walks of life. Some surfers are very young, while some are well not so young any more. On any given weekend with head high surf and glassy conditions it looks like an ant farm from the sky with all the surfers sitting in the lineup waiting, paddling,  and catching waves. It’s a jungle out there, but one thing is true that the majority of surfers do pay respect for other surfers when it comes to wave riding.

Proper surfing etiquette consists of not dropping in on the surfer who already is up and riding the wave, another term is “shoulder hopping, cutting me off, and dropping in on”. When I as well as all others began surfing we had to learn to pay respect for those who came before us, and those who were better at surfing than we all were. Time may have changed, but the surfer’s code for respect has not. Nowadays it’s very important with the high numbers of surfers in the water to be very respectful of those who have better board riding skills.

First thing is not to drop in on your fellow surfer while he or she is riding the wave. If you take off on a fellow surfer, you might be in for a real ass whooping. Surfer’s are very territorial and they don’t want you on their wave with them. Surfer’s want to ride their own wave to themselves. Anything that you do to infringe on that will get you into some real trouble. So what ever you do, don’t drop in someone who’s already riding the wave. Be respectful and wait you turn.

There 3 different types of surf breaks around surfing’s great wonderful world. Beach break, point break, and reef break. Each of these breaks have different styles of wave riding. A beach break is very common around the world and it allows for many surfers spread out over many miles of coastline with crowding at one local spot only in times of real good surf. Yes there are some locations that are more popular than others, and therefore the crowds will be heavier more often. Point breaks are sometimes a real hassle and are very competitive due to a very narrow takeoff area. Many surfers are grouped into packs (like dogs) and let the paddle battle begin. The better, more aggressive surfers will have the upper hand on these waves, so yield to them or else. Reef breaks are the most dangerous of all the break types. Fast moving water surges over the reef forming a very dangerous wave. In Hawaii when the surf hits 8 to 10′ the numbers of surfers in the water decline at an exponential rate, but below 6′ it’s a zoo out there (north shore-winter months, south shore-summer months). You’ll find surfers jockeying for best position for the take off.

If you want to survive out in the ocean, you must learn the proper etiquette for surfers or get the pooh beaten out of you. Don’t take off without looking in both directions. If you see someone up and riding, DON’T GO!! If you are paddling out, take the whitewater on the head instead of trying to make it to where the surfer will hit the lip and interfere with him or her. No your limitations and don’t try to exceed your comfort zone, I’ve seen one surfer drive right over another when someone drops in on another. Board damage and personal damage comes from these encounters. Don’t go surf the most crowded spots on the map. Learn proper surfing before attempting to compete for those waves. Become more knowledgeable and learn board control skills before making the wrong decision which could last a lifetime. Be respectful of others in the water and don’t be a dick. Hopping others will lead to violence in many areas of the surfing globe, and there’s no reason for this. Try and get along and take turns. Yes I know that great waves are not always available, but when there are share them and your surfing will go a long way.

How the weather affects the surf

Weather and surf go hand in hand like peanut butter and chocolate here in Florida. If it wasn’t for weather, we would not have surf. Do to this, we must understand how it affects us and our interaction with the surf. We get surf from wind. The stronger the winds directly onshore or out in the ocean from tropical systems, the bigger and stronger the surf is. We have seasons of the year, spring, summer, fall, and winter. These parts of the year have different types of weather, therefore, having different affects on the surf conditions. Weather and surf are big components or Florida all year long.

Spring season and weather. March is generally the start of spring here in Florida. Cold fronts are starting to lose their intensity and ability to drop the weather temps outside. As the fronts start to loose their punch, we have times when SE winds prevail on the Fla. Space Coast. Theses winds are a direct cause to stalled out fronts that wash out or return north as warm fronts to the cheers of many northerners who have been frozen out by winters grip. The winds make the surf choppy and start increasing the local water temps to a closer to summer like time. Strong SE winds here make the waves closer together. The winds also make the waves shorter an more broken up. The longer the winds blow from this direction, the higher the height of the surf will be from Cocoa Beach to the Inlet. For new surfers this can be a handful due to lack of paddling experience.With the SE winds we also see more Man-O-War’s floating in with the wind and water currents. Our coast here also has periods where a sea breeze pattern develops each day just like what we have in summer (how we have sea-breezes is covered in the summer section). The sea-breeze will start like clockwork, and ruin decent surf before 12pm.

We can also have the jet stream (the major steering current for weather) move low pressures into our surf window, and we can get decent ground swells generated. Ground swells are know for longer lines, longer rides, and better surf. If things go the way we hope for here, we want long lines, and offshore winds. Depending on the national weather, we can sometimes have our cake and eat it too..The low pressure pulls energy to it and then dispenses up and out ward. The low has a counter-clockwise spin and most of the energy is displaced from the NE side of the system. The high pressure pushes it energy downward, and it spins clockwise. This gives us nice clear days without a cloud in the sky. The position of these two weather entities are what we call weather. Spring is normally associated with nice clean surf, sometimes very powerful. It depends on what the El Nino, or La Nina factors as to a good, or poor surf spring. In the beginning of the spring season, cold fronts will have the steam to push through the Florida peninsula. With this we generally start with ESE winds, shifting to South, then to SW, then to West, then to NW. After the front the winds can stay NW, or go North, NE or to East. These things are due in part to how the jet stream positions itself along the eastern seaboard. The suction side (the low) pulls it’s energy towards it. SE winds will start a blowing moving the water. The longer time and distance, the bigger the waves. Next is with the SW winds, the surf is now cleaner, smoother, and a term we call glassy. This type of wind driven surf usually doesn’t last very long. A short period and short duration. Here today, gone tomorrow.

Summer surf is considered by many surfers as to be flat. High pressure out in the open Atlantic waters spins and moves water towards our shores. This time is mostly with real small surf. No bigger that waist high, and yes the surf can get bigger on occasion, but the general rule is very small, flat like conditions. Most surfers like to travel abroad for surf. Summer weather is mostly local weather. Local weather is motivated by the heat of the day, not like national weather which drags in the cold and pushes cold fronts through the state. The day in the summer consists of light offshore winds, or no winds at all. About 10:30am each day the sea-breeze kick into gear whether you are in Cocoa Beach or Melbourne Beach. By 1pm each day it looks like a small level 2 whitewater rafting experience. The smaller the surf the more the winds change the quality. I’ve seen bigger surf days where the winds do not have as much impact unless the winds are howling. The sea-breeze is created by rising air currents over the central parts of the state of Florida. As the air rises, the air starts moving from water to land creating the sea-breeze front. Warm moist air rising with our humidity creates clouds, which leads to afternoon thunderstorms. Even in the spring and the fall we do have these sea-breeze fronts happen. Winds continue to move water towards land, and therefore we have small summer waves. Go early and have glassy conditions. Sometimes tropical systems do form and affect our weather conditions, but it’s a carbon copy each year.

Late Summer, or Fall we are now into the meat of tropical season. We are now heading towards the peak of tropical season. If you live in Florida, along the coast you might get a direct hit like we did in 2004 (Frances, and Jean). Tropical season is know for well, “hurricanes“. Tropical systems form all over the tropical Atlantic basin, and even in the Gulf of Mexico. When these systems form they’re generating swells which become breaking waves along our coastline. The stronger the weather system, the larger, more angry, and more powerful the ocean will be. This is a time that most seasoned surfers are waiting for. No need to go travel when it’s right in your backyard. This is also a time when fronts start to move into the southeast US. This starts the cycle all over again on the way to winter. We have had big hurricane surf and hard NE winds because of the weather pattern, and the position of the high pressure. (fall 2010). As the sun moves towards south towards the southern hemisphere national weather systems make the way into our area, and with it the temperature changes which signify fall and the coming of winter. Winds are more aggressive from the North to NE. This brings big winds swells mostly more in October before the calming about November. Near the last part of October we do experience a significant cool down warning us of the season of cold.

Winter is the coldest period here. Wetsuits, booties, and cold water surf is what we have to deal with. During this period we do have some decent swells, but we can still have the pattern of a front comes in and the winds start from the SE and then clock around as the front marches through the state. If we are lucky a low will build on the tail end of the front and move across the Atlantic making for a few days of good surf. A lot of times the surf is small and cold. Winds can be offshore more or just real light until the next front moves into our weather window. When a low pressure moves across the US, and the jet stream drops low enough we can get some decent swell action. Sometimes we average waist to chest high surf and sometimes the surf can be flat or really big.

The wind bringith surf, and the winds take it away, so be careful of what you wish for because of how weather affects the surf. Wind chop surf is something that we deal with living Florida more than we care for. We do have those offshore days and get great surf to ride, but there’s no constant when it comes to weather. Things change and therefore the weather patterns change, month to month, year to year. A great guessing game it is. Fall, winter, and spring normally have bigger surf on average, but things can change it to flatus for extended periods. Summer is a smaller surf period, but it can explode with big surf depending on what the weather pattern is. These are few areas of the weather/surf relationship. Study the weather and you’ll get smarter about good-vs-bad wave days. Good luck and happy surf and weather to you.

How To: Waxing Your Surfboard

Waxing your surfboard properly is essential to maximizing your surfing skill. A well waxed surfboard can be the difference between standing and slipping, glory and defeat, wellness and injury, and overall fun.

The first thing to consider is what kind of wax to buy. All of the leading brands are comparable. But while brand name isn’t important, whether or not you buy warm, tropical, cool, or cold water wax is important. Using wax intended for the opposite water temp can cause the wax to not work, and you will slide off the board, which is exactly what you will do if you don’t have any wax on your surfboard.

The cutoff between warm and cold water waxes varies slightly with brand name, but is always printed clearly on the outside of the package. Simply be aware of the water temperature where you will be surfing and the corresponding recommended temperatures on the package.

Once you have your wax, you need to get the old wax off your surfboard. (If this is the first time you are waxing your board, you are lucky. Don’t worry about this stuff.) The easiest method is to lay your board out in the sun so that the wax already on the board softens. One it softens, scrape it off gently with a wax scraper (plastic) made for just that task and sold at surf shops. If you don’t have one of these combs, a variety of things will work: any flat edged surface of soft plastic or hard rubber, the end of a swim fin, etc. Just try to avoid metal– it will scratch up your surfboard.

Once the old wax is gone, its time to start with the new wax. If the surface of the surfboard is still hot, cool it down with some cool water or move it into the shade and let it sit. Then, when the board is dry, apply the wax in a circular motion. You don’t need to put wax on the entire board– only where your hands and feet will come into contact with the surfboard (never on the rail where you leg will slide back and forth). That means anticipating where you will spring up, and where on the rails you will push up with your hands. Remember, there’s no harm in putting wax somewhere and ending up not needing it. Better too much wax than not enough.

Finally, be sure you don’t leave your waxed surfboard in the direct hot sun, or the wax will melt right off. Also, avoid getting your fresh wax sandy, because it will feel like sandpaper on your skin. If you put your surfboard on the hot sand in summer, it will become gritty and sandpaper like.

How to paddle your board into the lineup

Here’s how to paddle into the lineup. You now have your first surfboard and you need to get it out into the lineup so you can catch waves and surf. Here’s some valuable information that will help assist you in getting your surfboard into the ocean and through the surf.

First is to make you hand into a paddle shape like the paddle on the canoe. Reach forward towards the nose and push your hand down in the water and pull back along the rail. Midway the pulling motion will become a pushing motion to complete one paddle cycle. Repeat with the other hand many times to get the board moving. When encountering the whitewater flip your board upside down, (fin, or fins up) with the nose pointed directly into the whitewater (never let your board turn sideways)

After the wave or whitewater has dropped, flip the board over (deck up) and climb back onto the board and start paddling again. Repeat as often as need to get past the whitewater and waves. Never stop in front of the wave because it will clobber you and the board. Paddle as fast as possible to get out quickly also time it in between sets to eliminate being clobbered by the waves, whitewater, and board. If at all possible walk out to eliminate the long paddle out. Know the beach where you plan to surf and if ever in doubt, DON’T PADDLE OUT!!!

How to pack you surfboards for a surfing trip by airline

Packing your surfboards for surf trip is very important for airline flight. You go on a surf trip and the airline damages your favorite surfboard(s). Packing your surfboard(s) can make the difference between being ready for the first day’s surf trip or having to see the local ding repair specialist. Most surfers don’t understand that the airline baggage monkeys, who get paid a low wage, don’t care about your boards. I’ve heard stories about one traveler had his longboard being stood on so they could load the cargo hold on the plane.

Packing the board correctly for a surf trip is not as hard as it seems. I’ve packed many surfboards that went on a plane to some surf trip location, and packed for boards to be shipped after purchase at the local surf shops where I used to work.

First you can go to the local surf shop where they have gotten boards shipped in from China or Thailand. They will most like have bubble-pack, and a plastic bag that the board in the store came in.

Go and pick up packing tape. You can find it at a pack and ship store, Walmart, or just about any store that product.

Putting your surfboard into the plastic bag will help keep the tape glue off the bottom of your surfboard. Nothing makes your board go faster than tape glue. (Ha Ha). When you get the bag on your board you may need to cut off some excess bag so it will fit when you go to put into your board travel bag (a real important item for all flights). Leave yourself about 3-4 inches on both ends to ensure that you can fold it onto itself and have some extra nose and tail padding.

Tape it with the packing tape.(packing tape will pull off easily from the plastic when you want to unpack you board. Make some strips before getting started to help this go quickly and easily. Once the ends are taped, then wrap the nose, middle and rear sections of the board so the bag is tightly bound to the board.

Next take the foam noddles that you can get from Walmart (make sure the hole diameter is the large one). Take a razor knife or have someone who has those skills and cut only one side straight down the side leaving the other side intact. Take strips of tape and tape the noodles onto your rails from nose to tail (leaving a little more at the nose and tail where you can overlap some). Now take the bubble pack and wrap the board (make sure that the ends meet in the center of the bottom at the stringer (easier to tape). Fold the excess bubble pack on the nose and tail, but make sure that it’s not a big glob (you won’t get your board into the board bag) streamline for best usage.

With your board wrapped in this manner you are ready to put it into the board travel bag. Remember that you can add towels on both sides of your board to help pad it from damage as you head on your surf trip. When you get to your surf destination remember to systematically unpack your board. Don’t rip apart like it’s Christmas or your birthday. You’ll need to repack it just like before you left on your surf trip. Don’t forget to bring your tape with you. Once you’ve done this a few times it will get easier. This should help when the loaders and unloaders get hold of your new or favorite stick. Happy travels.

If you do get damage from an airline, you can call me for expert surfboard repairs at 321-956-3268 here in central Florida or you can email me at surfguys@surfguyssurf.com

Learning to Surf

So you are learning to surf? Got your first surfboard and nobody to teach you, or your current instructor did not teach you correctly? Here are a few tips and techniques that will help you with this endeavor and challenge that you will face, being new to the sport that made Kelly Slater Famous.

First thing is in learning to surf you have to make sure your surfboard is waxed correctly if you have a board that needs waxing in order to ride it. If you have purchased a soft-board, wax may not be needed to maintain traction or grip (this helps you stay on the board). Learning to surf requires a lot of practice, so if you only get the beach on occasion it will take longer to become efficient at this sport.

One thing that is easily overlooked in learning to surf is the importance of hopping up, or popping up from lying down on the surfboard and jumping into the proper surfing stance. You will need to lay face down on the ground, then in one quick movement you’ll go from that position into the stance of a surfer, wake-boarder, snowboarder, and skateboarder. It is very important that you do not go to your knees when doing this practice (going to ones knees slows down the process to completing this 1st skill).

If you have experience in other related fields where the stance is relatively the same, it will help with defining your natural stance (regular or goofy foot). Make sure that you practice this technique until you have your feet placed properly. If you go to your knees, you will likely end up to close to the nose of your surfboard. This will lead the board’s nose to dig into the water and you will fly off the front of the board into the water. Once in the water the surfboard will recoil (remember if are not standing on the surfboard the wave and board play a game called “let’s hit the surfer in the head with the surfboard”).

Now since you mastered the pop up drill, you’ll need to get your surfboard into the water so you can practice learning to surf for real. Read the article on How to Paddle out for more useful hints. Now you are out into the small surf (I mean small surf). No new surfer should be out in surf that is beyond their abilities, and yes I know what all new surfers are like. You are in small surf and out into the lineup in a less crowded place to practice this sport. How you approach learning to surf will determine whether you have fun or bust your ass trying to get into the lineup.

You will paddle your surfboard directly in the direction of the beach. Try riding whitewater first to lessen the chances of being hit in the head by falling in front of the board (if you fall off the board, stay under water for 5 seconds and put your hand in front of your face and head to help in case the board is recoiling). If you surface to early, you may pay for your decision by drawing blood.

Once you feel the whitewater moving the board, you will jump into the proper surfing stance in one quick motion (I repeat, do not go to your knees!). Keep your head up, aim your shoulder to the nose of the board, do not look down at the board, and BEND YOUR KNEES!! If you do not bend your knees, and you will not keep your balance and you will fall into the water. Remember the game the wave and surfboard wants to play. “Let’s Hit the Surfer in the Head with the Surfboard”™

Now after you have mastered the pop up in the whitewater you now want to challenge what the ocean has to deal you. In small surf you paddle out into the lineup, in a less crowded spot for safety. You see the wave coming in before it breaks and you align your surfboard directly to the beach and begin paddling. You feel the board starting to move a little faster than your paddle speed, then you jump into the proper surfing stance before the board drops down the face of the wave. If you get up to late, the board will dig the nose under water and you will fly off the surfboard (remember to stay under water for safety). Try again until you can get the feel of the boards position into the wave. Rinse and repeat often until you get comfortable with this exercise. If you don’t get it, give us a call at 321-956-3268 for professional instruction where we will make a positive difference.

How to pop up correctly for surfing

Since surfing has been around, surfer’s have been doing the pop up or hop up. The pop up or hop up is a full range motion that takes a person from lying down in a prone position (face down) to standing erect (upright) in a surfer’s stance over top of your feet. More and more surfer’s who learn on their own, and many younger surfers practice the incorrect technique for getting up on their boards (owned or rented). If you go to your knees and then to your feet, you’ll be to close to the middle, front on the board and it will allow the nose to dig water and you to fly off the board. If your pop up continues, you will allow the surfboard to eventually hit you in the head (It’s the law of averages).

In order to limit being hit in the head a surfer has to make one quick pop up motion into the proper surfing stance. Most of the younger students can’t comprehend the right techniques due to an inability to understand what the movement is. Older (over 35 years of age), new surfers may not have the right amount of upper body strength to make it up into the correct position. Whatever the reason is, it’s very important to learn the correct technique for this maneuver. I’ve seen different techniques on TV and in person,  but they have not worked at all for the persons learning surfing.

The first thing to do is get prepared by increasing your upper body strength. Do some push-ups to increase your shoulder and tricep strength. If you are in good physical shape this is not as necessary, but will help train the muscles to get ready. Do as many pushups as possible, if you can do only ten, then try to do twelve the next time. Add more reps each time to help with increasing your upper body ability to thrust you into stance.

To pop up start from a lying, face down position you will need to make like you’re in the push-up setting. In one quick movement to standing in the surf stance. You will have to blast off the ground to complete this quickly placing your feet under your body. This is a one step process, not two, or three. When you practice this you will become more familiar and comfortable. If you go to your knees then to your feet, you will press down on the rear deck of the surfboard, upon unweighted to go to your feet the nose of the board will drop underwater and you’ll crash and burn. This is why it is very important to do this in one quick movement. It is very important to not hold on the rails of the surfboard when doing this maneuver. If you hold the rails of the surfboard it will cause a whipping affect with your arms flying over you head and making you fall backwards into the water.

The best system is to place your hands under your chest at your shoulders and spring up into either a regular foot stance (left shoulder is aligned to the nose of the surfboard), or a goofy foot stance (right shoulder is aligned to the nose of the surfboard). You must have your head up, shoulder pointed at the nose of the surfboard, and your knees have to be bent in this maneuver to have propper success. Any deviation from this will result in unfavorable near misses. Once you get hit in the head, you can not take it back. There is no returning to before it happened. Practice this at home, or wherever you can. When going to try this in the water make sure to use the whitewater (the foam that is a bi-product of the wave breaking and mixing with air) to make it safer for you.

Once you have got this down you will see better results more and often. Keep those feet under you body and in the center of the board. Pressure on one rail or the other will cause the surfboard to turn in the direction of the rail that’s under pressure. Use the right size surfboard, and also choose smaller waves that are less likely to get you into trouble. Practice, practice, practice. You want this to be like riding a bike, a no-brainer (it means that you don’t have to think about it).

If you find yourself having trouble, contact us and we will show you the proper style for popping up, and guide you into your surfing success making your time well spent. My system is the best for making you happier, and safer when working on riding your surfboard. Happy surfing!!

Buying your first surfboard

So it’s time to purchase your first surfboard after taking a lesson or a surf camp. Buying your first surfboard is very important to get the proper size for the first timer. Here are some things that you should know before spending a small fortune to get that new or used surfboard. First is that the sales staff at your local surf shop may make the best call, even though they do not know what you did in the water.

Little new surfers tend to go to their knees before feet. Huh, this poses a problem for proper position on the surfboard, so a slightly longer board than arms length overhead should be used. If you can pop right to your feet you can adjust the length down just a little. For older, new surfers you should purchase a longer board than the shop monkeys suggest. Reason being is that you cannot handle larger waves and shorter boards. Smaller waves and larger boards are the first rule of thumb.

If you are over 35 yrs of age and are in the 200+ lb category, go for something longer than 9’6” at 23.5”. As you get older your reflexes slow, so get something that is real stable and does what you want it to do. If you are lighter than 200 lbs, then you can go shorter and still have a comfortable time in the smaller surf sizes. Used boards are the way to go for the first time purchaser unless money is no object. Look the board over carefully and check to see that it is sound and not ready to fall apart. Yes surfboard can crack open and absorb water which will make the board come unglued. check to see that it does not need immediate repair before leaving the store.

Check the deck to see if the board is solid and not de-laminating with the deck glass coming loose from the foam, Beware of garage sales and pawn shops because these people are not in the surfing business. Consult with someone who has been surfing for years and see what they think. Consult your surf instructor for good information. One this is that remember what it was that you rode while getting a lesson and stick with that size for a little while until you become more comfortable, and then you can trade in your board towards a smaller one as you become more proficient in surfing. If you don’t want to trade it, keep it for smaller days. Learning surfing does take a lot of time and practice, so make good decisions and your surf learning cure will drop. Make the wrong purchase and your learning will take a lot longer. Good luck. If you need more professional instruction give us a call and you will not be disappointing.

Tips for traveling into foreign countries

So you are going out of the US on a surfing trip. Here are some tips for traveling that you should know before you go. Always be attentive, do not carry your wallet in your back pocket at any time (master pickpockets are waiting for you). Take a photo copy of your passport while hiding the original safely. Be courteous and polite to the locals, (do not act arrogant), smile and say hello (Ola in Spanish).

Tips for traveling is to be aware of your surrounding, thieves see all Americans as money. Lodging should be done in a place with security, day and night (costs a little more but well worth it). Go in groups, never travel at night alone (possible muggers, rapists, thieves). Don’t take all your valuables when you leave the hotel surfing, you will be asking to get robbed. Take only what you need, surfboard, wax, leash. Put your sunscreen on before you go. Park where there is security at the break if possible ( costs usually $1US) Always watch your stuff.  Keep your cameras and other valuables guarded all the time, I’ve seen people get ripped while they we away for dinner by local thieves.

Take zip lock bags, so you can surf with your money in your baggies pocket. Leave you rental vehicle unlocked, so they won’t break you window to get in. Use a travel group that will pick you up and transport you to and from the local breaks and keeps an eye on your stuff. Tip the maid and wait staff when you are ready to depart the hotel even though your food ticket does cover some tipping (they work hard to make your stay real nice).

Get to the airport early when going and coming back. Many foreign countries have a departure tax, so get that paid for quickly before getting into line at the ticket counter. You will have to have paid it before you can leave the country. Be nice to the ticket counter people, because they get their fill on knuckleheads that scream and shout about the dumbest stuff. It’s not their fault if the airline doesn’t send your plane on the day you;re leaving.

Make the best of it because the airline’s picking up the tab for dinner, breakfast, and lodging. It’s a minor inconvenience, but shouting and screaming only makes you look stupid. For surfboard safety, wrap your board in a plastic bag, then bubble-pack, wrap the rails, nose, and tail before putting into your board bag. The plastic bag will keep the tape glue off your board. Save you packing for the trip back home, and repack it the way you did on your trip out of the country. Good etiquette goes a long way. Have fun on your surfing trip, and be safe..