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  • Writer's pictureSurf Getaways

Surf safety series #4: How to wipe out safely

Wipe out on a wave

Wiping out is the term used for when you fall off your surfboard unintentionally on a wave. Wiping out is something that surfers try to avoid but inevitably it sometimes happens. Every surfer has had a wipe out, on more than one occasion. With that being said, we are going to give you some surf tips on how to wipe out safely.

Who wipes out?

Before you even start surfing you have to come to accept that you will, at some stage, wipe out. If you expect to wipe out on at least one wave a session you won’t be too disappointed in yourself because truthfully – everyone does it! Yes, even advanced surfers wipe out, so you should not be ashamed if you are a beginner or intermediate surfer and are wiping out too! It is totally normal to wipe out as it is very easy to do.

Why do wipe outs happen?

A wipe out happens when something goes wrong, even if it is a super small mistake, such as your eyes looking into the water and not looking up. Something as small as this can be the cause of a wipe out. If you can start to take note of your wipe outs you can actually learn from them.

If you are constantly nose diving, it is a sign that you are too far forward on your board and that your eyes and chest are not lifted up. If you find that you’re regularly falling to the left or right side of your board it may mean that your feet are off centre or that your weight is not in the middle.

So it is important to take notice of your wipe outs, and after you do fall off, take a minute to ask yourself “okay why did that happen, which way did I fall?”. By asking yourself these questions, you may actually be able to answer them yourself. A wipe out is never a bad thing if you can learn something from it!

Things to consider when wiping out:

  • Remember the distance between you and the end of your board when you wipe out. If you have an 8 foot board your leg rope will also be 8 foot so when you fall off there is 16 feet between you and the nose of your board that you have no control of. Once you have reached the surface safely, grab your leg rope from your ankle and pull the board back towards you so you can gain control of the board. This also makes it quicker and easier to get out of the impact zone.

  • Assess your surroundings. What is the ocean floor like underneath the water? Check if you are in shallow water, and if so, when you fall off make sure you star fish onto your back rather than pin drop off your board. You want to make sure you fall as flat as possible on top of the water so you stay closer to the surface and avoid touching the bottom of the ocean. Ideally, you’ll want to fall backwards behind your board, where the white water is. This way you’ll avoid being in front of your surfboard and will fall in the deepest area of the wave.

  • Avoid diving head first into the water in case there is shallow water, or reef or rocks beneath the surface. If you’re falling to the front, try to fall flat on your belly.

  • Look out for other surfers that may be close to you when you wipe out. If you are concerned about the amount of people in the lineup, consider paddling to another break that is less crowded, that way if you do fall off you are less likely to injure yourself or anyone else.

  • Cover your head and stay under water for a little longer to ensure the board has time to settle.

The most important thing to do when you wipe out is to stay calm and don’t panic, focus on your breathing to slow your heart rate down and have a laugh, don’t be too hard on yourself!

Wiping out is something Surf Getaways will teach you how to do safely in our Surf Clinics. Remember that wiping out is part of surfing, that you can’t avoid. So it’s better to embrace it and learn how to do it in a safe way. Join us today to gain valuable tips and tricks to improve your surfing experience.


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