Learn to surf decently and you’ll get the attention of any babe on the beach. Enough motivation to get you started? There’s also a tremendous satisfaction when you finally nail the technique. It’s almost like being a part of nature, says Jeff Ranta, wave operations manager at Wavehouse Sentosa. Above all, you’ll get a solid full body workout paddling out to the waves and balancing on the board.
Know Your Surfboards
Two classes of surfboards are commonly used: longboards and shortboards. The former can range anywhere from 2.5m to more than 4m in length. Incidentally, beginners usually start out with this type of board because they’re more stable, although that quality also makes them less maneuverable, says Ranta. In addition, because longboards are larger, this increases their ability to catch a wave.
Still, a longboard known as the “Gun” is often used by skilled surfers for riding huge waves (credit a teardrop-shaped, pointy front end that’s suited for piercing through the water). Shortboards, on the other hand, range from 1.5m to 2.1m in length and are great for tight maneuvers, he says. However, because they’re smaller, it’s more difficult to catch a wave with a shortboard. As such, they might require the surfer to catch the wave at the point just before it breaks, resulting in an entirely different style of surfing.
Why You Need Surf Wax
Surfing wax is what makes your feet stick to the surfboard (it’s important to get wax that suits the temperature of the water you surf in). It’s advisable to apply a thick coat when you’re just starting out, for obvious reasons. Also, it’s worth investing in a wetsuit if you’re going to surf in places like Australia, where water temperatures in Sydney average around 22 deg C. Ever wonder why some board shorts always come with a plastic comb? Well, it isn’t for your hair. When you’ve applied a thick enough layer of wax, the comb helps “rough up” the wax on the surfboard, allowing your feet to get a better grip, says Ranta.
Getting Started In Surfing
It’s best to learn the intricacies of the sport with a proper instructor, but Ranta offers a quick primer. You start by lying on the board and paddling out to sea. When a wave comes in, paddle to match the speed of the wave as much as you can, and slowly stand up, keeping your shoulders parallel to the board. “Lean forward,” he advises. “If not, the board will shoot out from under your feet.”
Locally, Wavehouse Sentosa is the closest you’ll get to Bondi Beach (babes included). A system known as a Flowrider creates a moving, 5cm thick sheet of water over a foam mat, which makes for an experience more akin to wakeboarding than surfing, says Ranta. “Surfboards have fins; flowboards don’t. In addition, you have to lean forward on the surfboard, but you often have to lean back on the flowboard to get the right balance,” he adds. Still, it’s a good transition for folks who haven’t had any experience on a surfboard, he says.
Why Surfers Have Such Good Bodies
It’s not hard to tell that surfing offers a kick-ass workout – it’s as taxing as distance running and Nordic skiing, according to a study by Australia’s Deakin University. Researchers also found that surfers have strength in their shoulders comparable to that of elite kayakers, due to the extensive paddling they have to do to get past the wave’s breaking point. However, don’t count on this as a workout solution, because a good wave can be hard to come by – unless you live on the Gold Coast.