Always wanted to dip your toe in the world of surfing? Professional big-wave surfer and star of the critically-acclaimed documentary Waveriders, Bundoran's Richie Fitzgerald gives us his top 10 tips for beginner surfers.
Follow Richie's expert advice and you'll be ready to make your board debut in no time:
1. Get your introduction to the sport of surfing from an ISA registered surf school.
2. Never surf alone.
3. If it’s available in your area, try a board before you buy. Any good local surf shop will offer rental boards to try.
4. Your first wetsuit should be a 5/3mm wetsuit so that you can wear it all year around. This means you will only need to purchase one wetsuit. If you decide to get more into the sport, then go ahead and purchase a second summer wetsuit.
5. Choosing your first board is very important. My experience has shown that the number one most common mistake for board owners is actually buying the incorrect board. Choosing the right board is super important. Getting it wrong can lead to frustration, bad surf sessions and inevitably a waste of your money.
With so many boards on the market, it's hard to decipher what is right for you. The best advice is to pop into a reputable surf shop with plenty of experienced staff and a good selection of different boards. What is right for one person, is not necessarily right for the other!
Your first surfboard generally should last you from your first year of surfing through to year three. A good rule of thumb when choosing this first surfboard is to get a board with good buoyancy, length and stability for your size. This will enable you to paddle, get out the back, take off and ride waves with success. The biggest mistake? Getting a board that is too short, narrow and thin.
6. Once you’ve moved on from surf schools or supervised surfing, it’s then important to surf waves that are conducive to your level. Even if it means spending an extra bit of travel time to find a suitable break. Again, ask your local surf shop for conditions on the day. Stay away from reef breaks until you are ready and at a confident intermediate stage. Reef breaks can be dangerous!
7. Learn to read the ocean, waves and the general conditions of the water you are surfing in and of course the surrounding beach and coastal area. Know what a rip is and how to get out of one. Learn about currents, tides, winds. Any good surf school should have taught you this during your lessons. You don’t need to be an oceanographer or weather man but it is important to have a good knowledge of you ocean environment.
8. Know your surf etiquette. You can see an illustrated version of surfing etiquette on the Irish Surfing Association web site. Knowing this etiquette will prevent any conflict or confrontation in the water. It will also keep you more aware and safer from injury and collisions.
9. Stay fit and flexible, some extra exercise outside of surfing will benefit your progress in surfing, any added exercise or stretching is importantwhether it is a yoga class once a week or a cycle run or swim at your local pool.
10. Leave only footprints on the beach, respect the coastline and beaches you are enjoying, don’t litter, damage or pollute your coastal environment.
Discover more about surfing the swells of the Wild Atlantic Way here.