Feel the warm sunrays on your skin, breathe in the fresh sea air, jump on your surfboard, ride the perfect wave, forget everything around you and just enjoy the moment – surfing is one of the most beautiful, but at the same time one of the most difficult sports to learn. Especially as a beginner you often don’t know which wave is the right one, falls off the board again and again and is washed ashore by the sea.
But why it is worthwhile to learn this great sport, with which tricks, it works and what you have to pay attention to with the equipment, we asked the professional surfer and Lululemon ambassador Malia Manuel:
- 5 reasons to learn to surf
- How long does it take to learn to surf?
- Instructions: paddling correctly
- Instructions: How do you manage to stand up?
- Learning the biggest mistakes while surfing
- Equipment for surfing
5 reasons why every woman should learn to surf
1. surfing clears the head
It’s like meditation in motion. All everyday stress, worries and problems fall away from you when you set foot in the sea. “Everything seems to be far away, because you are fully occupied with the waves”, says Malia Manuel. You are in the moment and forget everything around you – which is often difficult for us women.
2. surfing improves fitness
As soon as you swing yourself onto the board, your whole body starts moving: When paddling you train your arms, shoulders and chest muscles. When you stand up on the board, your thigh and pom muscles are especially challenged and as soon as you ride the wave, your trunk muscles work at full speed. With time you will notice how your body feeling improves, you get more and more body tension, become fitter, slimmer and more muscular.
The best thing about it is that you don’t even realize that surfing is actually totally exhausting, simply because it’s so much fun.
3. surfing never gets boring
What you will quickly learn while surfing: No day is like the previous one, no wave is the same and no surf spot has the same conditions – so surfing never gets boring. The sea always presents you with new challenges and even those who have already gained experience will certainly never have finished learning on the board.
4. surfing makes happy
Especially as beginners, success is quick at the beginning. Once you have experienced the feeling of happiness of riding a wave, when the adrenaline rushes into your blood and the endorphins put a big grin on your face – then you will understand why so many people fall for surfing. “And the feeling of falling into bed exhausted but overjoyed after a great day of surfing is irreplaceable anyway,” says surfer Malia.
5. by surfing you get to know new people
The surf community is a very open-minded and helpful group of sports-mad people. If not already on the beach, you will get into conversation with other surfers at the latest when you are floating in the water and waiting for the next wave. Whether it’s a nice small talk, a buddy for the next trip or a best friend for life – everything is possible when surfing.
What makes a good training partner
How fast you learn to surf depends mainly on your motivation. © PR
How long does it take to learn to surf?
How long it actually takes until you stand on the board for the first time depends on various factors. “Surfing conditions (size and quality of the waves), fitness level, physique, equipment and your own motivation play a decisive role in your first surfing success,” says the expert. Usually, surfing students with a certain basic fitness can already get up on the board and glide a few meters in the white water, i.e. on broken waves, during the first two days of the course.
Students who are a little less athletic usually make it within the first week of class. In the second week of the course, sporty beginners can usually also surf green, i.e. unbroken waves.
How quickly success is achieved also depends to a large extent on the individual supervision of the surf instructor. Therefore, make sure that you come in a small group during the surf course. The surf instructor can take care of four to five students much better than double the number. Under no circumstances should you try to teach yourself to surf. This is not only dangerous, but also takes much longer than with a surf instructor or in a surf camp.
Instructions: paddling correctly
Paddling may sound boring at first, but it is the most important thing for the start of the wave ride. “Only with a good paddling technique you have enough speed to keep up with the speed of the wave”, says Malia Manuel. If you paddle too slowly, you miss the thrust of the wave. And if you paddle wrong and uncontrolled, you are quickly exhausted and at the decisive moment you don’t have enough power and concentration for the so-called take-off.
Therefore: Build up body tension – from the upper body, hands, buttocks to the calves. The legs are close together and should not hang from the board. Place the breastbone at about two thirds of the length of your board (for orientation: on many surfboards the manufacturer’s logo is exactly at this point), lift the upper body slightly from the board and make long strokes with your arms parallel to the outer edge of the board, just like in crawling.
While doing so, stretch your arms straight forward, dip in and pull them through completely to the back. Keep your fingers together and build up tension in your hand, which gives you good resistance in the water and helps you move faster.
This is how stand up paddling works
Instructions: How do you manage to stand up?
“When trying to get up for the first time, it is advisable to choose an already broken wave that still has enough thrust to push you in front of it,” advises surfer Manuel. To do this, position your board so that the tip points towards the beach and then paddle off. Now comes the decisive moment: As soon as you feel the wave’s momentum under your board, do two or three quick but controlled crawls and only then put your hands under your chest.
Then push up your upper body like a push-up and at the same time pull your feet forward underneath your body (don’t jump!) and set up slightly offset slightly more than hip-wide. From this squatting position you can push yourself up with the strength of your legs and at the same time release your hands from the board.
How your leg muscles work
Surfing never gets boring, because the sea always presents you with new challenges. © PR
Learning the biggest mistakes while surfing
1. expectations too high
Many beginners believe that you surf a green wave for seconds at the first session. If it doesn’t work the first few times, they get frustrated and give up before they have really started. Therefore the first rule is: be patient and lower your expectations. It takes time to develop a feeling for the sea, the board and the right timing.
2. single entries
Book a surf instructor, a week at the surf camp or find an experienced surfer to teach you how to surf. Even if you prefer to jump right into the surf with your board after reading this article, it’s better to leave it alone.
Apart from the right surfing technique, an experienced surfer will explain everything you need to know before you go in the water: how to recognize a good surf spot, good waves and dangerous rip currents (currents that pull you out to sea) and will familiarize you with the right of way rules among surfers.
3. The wrong equipment
A board that’s too small, a bikini that keeps slipping, a wetsuit that’s too wide – the wrong equipment can distract you, unsettle you and take away the fun of surfing. Therefore, before your first surf ride, get extensive advice in the surf shop. “The more comfortable you feel with your equipment, the better you can concentrate on surfing and the faster you make progress in the water”, says Malia Manuel.
4. no sun protection
Out of concern that they might not come back from their summer holidays with a tan, some people like to avoid sunscreen when surfing or use a cream with too low a sun protection factor. But if you are exposed to the sun all day without protection (even if it is a little cloudy), you risk sunburn and skin damage. Waterproof creams with a sun protection factor of 30 or 50 are therefore mandatory. Surfing with sunburn is anything but fun.
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Equipment: What do I need? What do I have to consider with the equipment?
The basic equipment for surfer girls consists of surfboard and bikini. If you don’t go surfing in tropical temperatures, you should also buy a wetsuit. There are a few things to consider when choosing the right bikini, surfboard and wetsuit:
Surfboard: The length and width of the surfboard should primarily suit your ability. Padded beginner foam boards are great for beginners who want to get a feel for the board first. They are a bit more voluminous than normal surfboards and offer a lot of stability, are easy to paddle and glide well. Because of their high volume, even small waves can be surfed to the beach. If you are a little more advanced, you can choose a longboard or a funboard.
However, there is no general rule for determining the right surfboard, so please ask at the surfboard rental, surf shop or an experienced surf instructor. No matter which board you choose: always make sure that the board has a leash, i.e. a connecting line between the board and the ankle. The leash is more or less the lifeline between you and the board and since you will often fall into the water, especially at the beginning, the leash is even more important.
Bikini: So that you don’t have to think about whether everything is still covered every time you jump on the board, what should be covered and don’t have to adjust everything after every wave, a perfectly fitting bikini is a very good investment. “Tops with crossed straps at the back usually offer more support than simple straps,” says the expert. The bikini bottoms should fit tightly without constricting.
If you want to play it safe, choose a long-sleeved swimsuit or pull surf shorts or shirt over the bikini.
For her Lululemon swimwear collection, Malia was not only interested in the beautiful pattern and colours, but also in the fact that the bikinis and swimsuits do not slip while surfing or swimming. In order for the wearer to be able to fully focus on her surfing session and herself, Malia has incorporated her years of experience in surfing and has had the designs tested over and over again by herself and had adjustments made if necessary.
This is what we’re wearing to the beach this summer For the launch of her “Will the Wave” collection with Lululemon we met professional surfer Malia Manuel in Los Angeles. There, the 24-year-old Hawaiian told us in a surfing session everything you need to know about surfing. © Women’s Health
Wetsuit: “The thickness of the wetsuit depends on the air and water temperatures in the destination, your surfing skills and your personal taste,” says Manuel. To get a feeling for the water and the board at the beginning, a 3/2 suit is usually recommended. The numbers give information about the thickness of the material on the torso (first number) and on the arms and legs (second number).
A 3/2 full suit (long legs, long sleeves) or shorty (short legs, short sleeves) is appropriate for example at water temperatures of about 15 to 19 degrees.
In order for the wetsuit to really keep the warmth on the body, it should fit like a second skin, but still offer sufficient freedom of movement. The best way to try it on is to do a few knee bends and row your arms to test how well you can move around in the suit.
Learning to surf is a challenge. Accept it, and be persistent! Because the unbeatable feeling when you ride the wave for the first time rewards you for every effort.