Surf safety series #2: Surf equipment and safety in the water
Surfing is supposed to be fun, and despite being considered an extreme sport, we can use best practices to stay safe and make the most out of our time in the water. In our first issue of the Surf Safety Series, we talked about ocean conditions and how to assess them, you can check it out here. In this second issue, we’ll talk about surf equipment, how to take care of it to keep it in the best condition and how to use it correctly.
Let's begin with the number one piece of surfing equipment, the surfboard. Your board is more than just a tool to ride waves, when you’re in the ocean, it will also be your flotation device. If you have your surfboard, it will keep you afloat for as long as necessary in the case of an emergency. You should always keep your board in good condition, repairing any dings and cracks ASAP to avoid letting any water in that will damage the foam. Make sure you keep it away from the sun while not using it, and give it a rinse with fresh water after every session.
The leg rope is an important safety tool for any surfer to help keep your board with you at all times Whilst it can be a lifesaving tool in an emergency, it can also be dangerous if used the wrong way. Never carry your board by the leg rope, and never put the leg rope around your fingers or hands when entering the water. If a big wave comes and pushes your board away from you, then you could be in all sorts. For proper maintenance and storage, make sure you rinse it with fresh water after every session, avoid leaving it rolled around the board, detach from the tail after use and leave it hanging long. With this simple maintenance, you’ll avoid future tangling around your legs and help to prevent nods and tears.
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Surf fins, whilst very useful when you’re surfing, can be a hazard on an uncontrolled board with speed. Fins are not handles, so do not carry your board by the fins, especially in the water. The misuse of these can cause injuries as they become sharp against the skin. As with other surf equipment, rinse the fins areas after every session to avoid salt accumulation around the fin boxes, and make sure the screws are always tight to avoid losing fins.
Sun can damage not only your surf equipment but your skin too. The best protection for you whilst surfing is to cover your body with a long sleeve top, long legged pants and, if possible, a surf hat. When these options are not possible, make sure to use sunscreen and high protection zinc over the most sun-exposed areas. When selecting your sun protection products, make sure you use natural products to give some love to our oceans and reefs and to avoid damaging the ecosystem with chemicals.
Surf booties have two purposes, firstly to keep your feet warm in colder waters and Secondly, to protect your feet if surfing in reef or rock bottom surf breaks. There are plenty of options in the market, depending on what you’ll need them for including millimetre thickness, soft or hard sole, etc. Chat to one of our Surf Coaches or your local Surf Store Operator before you buy to ensure you pick the ones that fit your purpose. As with any surfwear, rinse it with fresh water after each surf and hang out to dry whilst avoiding direct sunlight.
The surf helmet is a piece of safety equipment mostly recommended for advanced surfers who are surfing bigger waves or reef/rock bottom surf breaks. But if you have had a brain injury in the past or want to protect your head from possible hits, it can also be a piece of go to equipment. The surf helmet is becoming more and more popular with surfers of all backgrounds.
If you’ve realised you need some more surf safety guidance, join us on one of our Surf Programs. We cover all surf safety practices to ensure you know exactly how to behave in the ocean and how to use your equipment the right way. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook and make sure you subscribe to our Newsletter to receive more tips and useful information for your surf journey.
Stay safe and have fun!