What is Surfing
Surfing is the godfather of all the modern board-based watersports. It´s about catching a wave in the Ocean on a board and riding it all the way to the beach, reading the motion of that wave to gain speed and send some tricks.
First discovered by the captain cook in the 18th century when he landed on Hawaiian islands, Surfing is an art created by Hawaiian native people about 2000 years ago. imported to California in the 20´s, it grew up quickly to become the explosive and radical sport we know today.
How to start Surfing
To be able to surf, you need to take a few surf lessons to understand the basic rules and tips that will help you to develop solid skills and give you access to a faster progression. Surfing is about analyzing the conditions, controlling your equipment in the water amongst other users, catching some waves and assessing the hazards and how to avoid them. by taking a surf lesson, you will develop some tools that will help you for a safe and fast progression.
Where to go to start surfing
There are surf schools all over the world. Choosing a famous surf destination will allow you to find some really experienced surf schools with good instructors, and learning in a safe and peaceful environment is essential. Avoid the peak season if you can. In Europe, South Portugal is one of the best places to go, all the surf lessons are in English and most of the instructors there have a lot of experience. Sri Lanka is one of the best locations to go in the winter, with off course hawaii, indonesia and Costa Rica.
Main tricks and tips
Surfing has different approaches, from longboarding with classic manoeuvers where it´s all about style and flow, cross-stepping on the board, nose rides, smooth carves and dropped-knee turns… to surfing on a shortboard where you have two types of tricks: The ones sent on the wave itself in different sections, Rollers, cut-backs, re-entries,lay-backs, floaters and tubes, and the ones that are sent in the air. We call them aerial tricks : Air-reverses, alley-oops, rodeos. Those tricks takes their inspiration from skateboarding and snowboarding heritage. Surfing a shortboard is all about creating speed and momentum to send those tricks. There is many different styles of surfing manoeuvers, and new ones are invented every day.
The main tips for a beginner surfer : never put the board in between you and the wave, never catch a wave if there is someone in front of you, stay in the whitewater to learn how to pop up properly before paddling out to the line up. Avoid paddling if you can, it is easier to push your board waist deep water in the white wash. Oh yeah, and look forward in front of you while you surf, the board is going exactly where you looking at :) As well, alway go surfing with someone more experienced who could keep an eye on you.
How to choose the board
The surfboard you will use is directly related to the surf conditions of the day, the type and size of the waves and your skill level. Choosing a performance board as a beginner is one of the biggest mistake you can do : It will slow down your progression and will be extremely frustrating. As a beginner, choose a foam-based surfboard, from 7´to 8´feets. It will be safer for you and the other surfers as you don´t yet know how to control it properly in the surf environment.
A fiberglass board is designed for advanced surfers only, directly related to your own safety. Remember that to surf, you need to catch a wave first. And the size and the volume of the board will make your life easier or worse depending on your choice. A foamie will allow you to catch a lot of waves and you will progress way faster than with a fiberglass shortboard or longboard.
What gear would you need
To surf, you only need a wetsuit, a surfboard and a leash. Always take advice from the local surfers or surf schools about the best gear to use. Renting surf gear on the beach is usually easy and the schools will always help you to choose the right board as a beginner.
Now time to spend time with one of our beautiful GlideSoul Girls, queen of longboarding based in Tenerife.
Introducing you to Sharlene Westdijk...
GS: How did you start surfing?
Sharlene: My life was actually really different before I started surfing. I grew up in a little harbor town in Holland. I wasn’t really sporty, always got picked last and I was a quick learner, but in that moment I’d rather spend my time doing things I shouldn’t do, instead of going to school. So the moment I finished high school, I started working in bars. I did that for a couple of years, and I really enjoyed it.
I had a nightlife, working at nights, sleeping in the days. It was really so much fun, and I made amazing memories, but it was not fulfilling. I started to miss something, and I thought the answer was to go back to school.
I started my Social Work studies, and kept working part time in the bar. I had an amazing time and I really enjoyed learning again but I still felt like something was missing.
I always felt like I wanted to travel, and I loved the ocean since I was young and I thought it would be amazing to learn how to surf. So the plan started to form in my head, I wanted to travel to experience different cultures, learn how to surf, do more with yoga and learn a different language.
So after I graduated, and a summer of working and saving, I left to the Dominican Republic. I loved it so very much, I didn’t feel like I could live in Holland anymore. I fell in love with surfing, and I fell for it hard.
GS: Where do you go to ride and how often do you ride?
Sharlene: Currently I am living on the north coast of Tenerife and I am really lucky to have an amazing break just 5 minutes walking from my house. This is where I surf the most, and if the conditions allow it, I surf every day.
GS: How do you combine your surf sessions and every day life / job / study?
Sharlene: When I started traveling, I kept going back to Holland in the summers to work. I worked really hard for 4 months and then left again. This was really nice, but also really hard. So after 3 years I decided it’s better for me find a job I can do online, to be able to work in the hours and in the place that I prefer. I’ve been working like that for 3 years now, and love the freedom that it gives me, even though I am not doing anything with my studies at the moment. But the good thing is that if I want to surf, I can work around that, so I almost never miss the good days.
GS: What are your favourite tricks and could you give us some tips to improve our surfing skills.
Sharlene: My favorite tricks are hanging 10 and the cheater five. The hang 10 I am just starting to master, and it don’t do it all of the time, but when I do, it feels so good! And the cheater five is super fun to do and looks so elegant. Love it!
My tips to improve your skills is going to the water as much as you can, to have fun while you’re out there, and to really feel the wave. Fall, get back up, try again. Also on days that it might not look so good. I think the reason I learned to surf so fast, is that I went in every type of condition, big, small, rainy, sunny, stormy.
GS: What is your selection of GlideSoul products for surfing?
Sharlene: Right now, Tenerife winter time my 3/2 full suit is my favorite suit, it keeps me warm and protected against the cold but still lets me move really freely. I can’t wait for the spring to come and to use my springsuits and short sleeve suits again. I am in love with my new in bloom short sleeve suit, but I didn’t get a chance to take it to the water yet! I love the colors and designs, but the best thing about the suits is that they keep you warm and protected whilst being super comfortable.