Surf Getaways surf tip: The rip
What is a Rip?
A Rip is a type of current that occurs in the ocean in between breaking waves zones rocky headlands and wave zone. Rips are unlike other currents, as they travel perpendicular to the shore, from the beach towards the ocean.
When and why does a Rip occur?
Rips mainly occur when there are waves. It's a way for the water that is being pushed towards the beach by the waves, to find its way back out. As a general rule, the bigger the waves, the stronger the Rip. On a calm day where there are no waves, it will be very unlikely to find any strong Rips, as there isn't a lot of water moving around.
How to identify a Rip?
Rips generally occur in between breaking waves. You should identify where the breaking waves are (as they’re easier to see) then right next to it, you'll find a section of the sea where there are no waves or they're smaller, with moving water or deeper murkier sections. That's where your Rip will be. On days where the ocean is very clean and glassy, it will be easier to spot the Rips. On more onshore, messy days, it can get a bit tricky and it will take more time to spot them.
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Important things to know about Rips:
Rips are not always dangerous, but you can find yourself in trouble if you panic when you find yourself in one. If you need help, stay calm and call out for assistance.
If you're ever caught in a Rip, do not paddle against it trying to get back to shore. Paddle sideways parallel to the beach until you find a breaking waves section - where you'll be out of the Rip, then you can catch a wave or paddle back to shore.
The safest area to swim is in the shallow part of the breaking waves area. Calmer water on a day with sizeable waves is an indication of a Rip, so look to avoid swimming in these areas.
Rips are used by experienced surfers as a lift to reach the outside, avoiding having to cross the breaking waves.
In case of doubt, have a local surfer or lifeguard help you point out the safest way to get out the back.
Safety tip: stay on your board.
Know your limits, have fun and stay safe!