Here’s your chance to ask the wise surfing owl about all your surf-related conundrums - from how to stop nosediving to where to plan your next surf trip. No topic is too big, small or embarrassing, so ask away.
What’s the difference between surfing beach breaks and reefs?
- Andrea, Manchester
Generally, reef breaks are for more advanced surfers as they break onto shallow ledges of rock. However if you’re a competent surfer the benefits are enormous because you can usually paddle out to the line-up in a channel without having to duck-dive. Plus, the waves break mechanically in the same spot and are longer, so you know exactly where to catch them and can practice your moves over and over again.
With beach breaks, the waves don’t usually peel for as long and don’t break in a consistent place or pattern. Beach breaks are great for beginners, as you can get to grips with all the skills in the gentle white water. However, as you get better at surfing, to get out back you have to paddle and duck dive much more. Beach breaks are also more affected by currents and wind. I’ve got a new board, how do I go about waxing it?
- Claudia, USA
Start by marking out your waxing area with a base-coat wax in a cross-hatching pattern. Use a slightly harder wax for this first coat, to create a good bump pattern. Begin by the tail and move up towards the nose. Cross-hatching prepares the surface of the board, creating a base texture for the next layer of wax to grip onto. You want to make sure you wax over the complete area that your feet will be on. (There is nothing worse than slipping off your board because you put the wax in the wrong places!)
Then add a top coat of softer wax, creating a much stickier surface for your feet to grip to. Be sure to check the label and buy the right top coat for where you are surfing, as this layer is affected by the water temperature (you don’t want it melting off in tropical waters). Apply this wax with the same cross-hatch technique as you did with the basecoat.
What are rip currents and what should I do if I get in trouble in the sea?
- Caroline, Australia
Rip currents are caused by a body of water finding a channel to flow back out to sea. Rips can usually be identified from the shore as channels of deeper water (often between sandbars) where the waves aren’t breaking: the surface of the water is usually rippled or choppy, and may be discoloured by sand. A strong rip current can quickly drag you out to sea. If you get caught in a rip, don’t try to paddle back to shore against the current, paddle across it to wherever the waves are breaking.
Rip currents are often only 10 or 20 yards wide, so you can usually escape their clutches quite easily. Never panic and abort your board, as it’s your life raft.
I get painful ears after I’ve been in the sea, why is this and how can I fix it?
- Amélie, France
Ear infections are common amongst surfers, especially if you surf in cold water. The chilly conditions can cause the bones in the narrow canal to grow and water can get trapped, furthering the risk of infection. This is known as ‘Surfer’s Ear’ and if you ignore it for too long it can get very painful and may need surgery to be cured. To avoid this, all surfers should wear ear plugs in cold water, as they protect ears from the water, cold air and contaminants.You can buy a pair of SurfEars from The SurfGirl
Do you have any tips on staying fit for surfing over winter?
- Amanda, Cornwall
As it becomes harder to surf over the winter months, it’s important to make sure your fitness doesn’t suffer – so join a gym or workout at home. Our Surf Girl
Guide to Surf Fitness is packed full of surfspecific workouts that target the areas of your body that you need to keep strong and toned for surfing. If you’re working out at home then invest in some kit like an exercise ball for core strength or an Indo Board to improve your coordination and balance while strengthening your legs. Also make sure you stay active by swimming regularly, join an exercise or yoga class and plan a route around your local area for a bi-weekly run.
To send in a question, and be in with a chance to win a copy of e Surf Girl Handbook, email thewisesur[email protected] orcasurf.co.uk. Each issue we will give away a copy. e Surf Girl Handbook is available at the SurfGirl Beach Boutique.