Every surfer knows that at some point in their career, the ocean will give them a beating. What most surfers probably don’t realize is that this beating could be enough to make them reconsider their commitment to surfing altogether. A real wipeout could leave you scraped, without a board and with next to no ego left, so in order to prepare you for this likely occurrence (trust us it will happen at one time or another if you surf for long enough) we have come up with a few tips to help you. So how can you survive the worst wipeout of your surfing career? Let’s take a look.
Prepare for the Worst
If you live with the mindset that sooner or later it’s going to happen you are already halfway there. Sometimes there is just nothing that you can do but fall. Ideally you would get deep enough on the wipeout to let the wave just fall over you but this is not always possible so make sure you know how to protect your head from both the reef and your board if this happens. Try to relax, shut down your mind and enjoy the ride – the more you panic the more problems you are likely to have.
Know Which Waves to Tackle and Which to Leave
No-one’s trying to tell you not to surf the big waves but you do need to know when you are getting in over your head. Before bowing down to peer pressure think about the situation – is there a strong current? How do I get in? What will happen if I lose my board or the wave lands on my head? Can I physically handle it? If you’re brave enough to tackle a wave out of your comfort zone chances are you will learn something that you can improve on next time but don’t do anything that is dangerous unless you have the adequate support around you.
Be Physically and Mentally Prepared
If you can’t physically and mentally prepare for big waves (and the possible accidents that can occur) you will never be ready to tackle anything outside your current comfort zone. In order to tackle larger waves you need to prepare both your body and your brain. Look into doing different types of exercise to surfing – cardio workouts are good as is free diving as it coaches you to hold your breath for longer periods of time. If you do encounter a wipeout you’ll be glad that you are physically and mentally fit and it may just help you to escape without injury.
Have Your Surf Buddy’s Back
If you’ve put a lot of time into preparing for the worst wipeout of your life, you’ll want to look out for those that you are surfing with too. There are not always lifeguards available, especially in places that aren’t that popular so knowing what to do in case an accident does happen is vital. If you’re moving up to surf bigger waves than you’ve surfed before, look into taking a basic first aid course. Some surf schools offer these or you can do it off your own back. This way, if there ever is a bad accident you will know what to do and can provide help before the emergency services arrive.
Know When to Call It Quits
Sometimes you just need to know when to bow out. Many experienced surfers have been in situations where they are waiting and waiting to get a quick breath but are struggling due to the power of the surf and this is not a situation that even they want to be in. If the waves are violent or if you’re feeling tired, call it a day and head back to shore. You will never win a fight against the ocean.
Creative Commons photo by Mike Baird