Teaching groms to surf is so much fun. They bring such good energy to each and every surf session and their enthusiasm is infectious (and not in any way cynical). However, among all of the madness, there are a few things to make sure every grom keeps in mind to ensure everyone’s safety.
1. Never Swim or Surf Alone
Have you ever heard the saying “there’s safety in numbers”? Well, surfing is no exception. Grab your surf buddy or drag Mum and Dad down the beach to watch over you. Don’t be tempted on those perfect offshore dreamy days to grab your board and surf solo.
2. Be Sun Smart
Slip, Slop, Slap is the iconic sun/skin care campaign launched in Australia and is widely credited as playing a key role in the dramatic shift in sun protection attitudes and behavior over the past two decades. Grommies, remember to slip on a t-shirt, slop on some sunscreen, and slap on a hat.
3. Know Your Local Breaks and Beaches
With each session try to become more familiar with your local surf break. Are there any fixed rips? Or do rips tend to form in other parts of the beach? What about hazards? Are there any rock formations that you need to know about? Local knowledge is invaluable, and you will notice a boost in your confidence the more you know you’re local.
4. Be Aware of Changing Tides
Tides change throughout the day on all beaches. Some have bigger tide swings than others and some surf breaks work better on those changing tides, etc. Understanding these changes can not only help you choose the best conditions to surf but also keep you safe.
5. Stay Between the Flags When Swimming
Always swim on patrolled beaches. This is where the lifeguards set up the red and yellow flags to notify people they’re in an area where a lifeguard is on duty. They set up these flags in the safest environment for swimmers to enjoy.
6. Listen to Advice From Surf Coaches and Lifeguards
Surf coaches and lifeguards have an ocean awareness that takes years to learn. They can often see subtle nuances in the ocean that the untrained eye can’t see. Be open to advice and ask questions. They absolutely love to share their knowledge.
7. Learn to Recognize Rips and Currents
On long open beaches, rips often occur approx every 200m. Be aware of flat/still water between sandbanks as this is often a tell-tale sign of a rip drifting out to sea.
8. Always Use Safety Equipment
Before heading out for your surf, it’s a good practice to check your equipment and make sure it’s in full working order. A faulty leash, board or wetsuit will cause problems in the water.
9. Consider Other Surfers
Get to know the correct surf etiquette (like those closest to the whitewater have the wave) and abide by the code of conduct to keep the water safe and allow everyone of all ages and abilities to have fun and enjoy the ocean.
10. When in Doubt, Stay Out
Surfing is a very challenging and unpredictable sport. Your environment is constantly changing and you can be exposed to situations that are out of your control. So before heading out for your next surf, ask yourself: “Will I be able to swim to shore comfortably if my legrope snaps?”
And always remember the Golden Rule: Never go surfing in water that you are unsure of – where the surf is too big for your ability.
Grommies! Now that you know these rules, go rip it up and stay safe out in the water.
For more surf tips from the author check out House of Surf.