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FAQ – Surfboarding


When people ask me what I enjoy doing, I always mention that I am a keen surfer.  This usually sparks interest and I am often bombarded with lots of questions and comments of all sorts.  In favour of this, I have decided to post the questions I have been asked and tried to answer them as effectively as I can.

Surfboarding FAQs

1. I live in Bournemouth and I would like to learn how to surf. How do I go about doing this?

I would strongly recommend Bournemouth’s surf school called SurfSteps.  It is located on Boscombe Sea front.  All of the surf equipment is provided.  For a beginner class, the school will charge £35 per person for the lesson.  However, if you go with a group of 15, you will be given a money saving deal.  Once you have had your first lesson and would like to continue on with surfing, attend the Improver lessons, which only cost £15 per person.

2. What do you do on the first lesson?

The first lesson always starts on the sand.  The instructors will do some warm ups with you, they will talk to you about the safety measures of being in the water and most importantly, how to pop-up on the board when there is a wave coming right for you.  After half an hour of practice on the sand, you will then be directed to the sea where you will get used to lying on your surfboard whilst being in water.  Once you’ve done this, you will spend the rest of the session learning how to stand up on the board and how to walk on the water.

3. How long are the lessons?

2-3 hours.

4. Is standing up on a surfboard easy?

It very much depends on how confident you are in the water.  The technique, in my opinion, is very easy to grasp.  You just have to be confident and believe in yourself that you can do it.  However, for someone who’s never surfed before and their first lesson is during a very windy-stormy day, this can make it much more difficult to stand up.  Don’t worry if you cant stand up after a couple of lessons, it will come to you if you stick with it.

5. Is surfing scary?

It can be! My first lesson was during a storm, it was raining heavily and it was very windy.  The waves therefore were quite big.  I had finally stood up on the board and I surfed the waves for a very limited time before I was knocked off by a huge wave and buried under it as well as the surf board.  I was all tangled up with the ankle cord.  You can’t panic in these situations, you just have to remain calm.  If this ever happens to you just remember that the wave will pass through you very quickly bringing you back above the water.

6. What sort of surfboard will I start on?

You will be given a long-board, which is between 8-10 feet long.  It is much easier to stand up on one of these.  The 6 foot short boards that you’ll witness experienced surfers carving and slicing up the ocean with are called thrusters.  These boards are shaped for maneuverability and skill.  Once you are experienced enough you will be able to rent these out or have lessons on them.

7. As we’re in England, isn’t the water freezing?

No because the surf school will provide you with a decent wetsuit that will keep you warm just as soon as you get in the water.  It may be cold for the first five or so seconds but the suit quickly warms you up.  This means you can surf anytime of the year without it being cold, so if you want to learn as soon as possible and its winter, don’t let this put you off!

8. How big are the waves roughly in Bournemouth?

The waves in Bournemouth average about 2-3ft.  However sometimes the waves just aren’t big enough to surf on.  If you want to go surfing but are unsure about the size of the waves for a particular day, click here and you will be diverted to a website that tells you the tide times and current size of the waves.

9. Which places are considered the best spots to surf in the world?

It is hard to generalise which places are considered the very best to surf in, but lots of people agree that Hawaii is the place to surf.  However others argue that the following 10 places are the best surf spots.

1)    Gold Coast, Australia.

2)    Mentawai Islands, Indonesia.

3)    Jeffreys Bay, South Africa.

4)    Fuerteventura, Canary Islands.

5)    El Salvador.

6)    Costa Rica.

7)    California, North America.

8)    Bali, Indonesia.

9)    Santa Catarina, Brazil.

10)  Samoa.

10. Can you surf at night?

Personally, I’ve never gone surfing at night but it can be done.  Obviously it is more dangerous with injuries, becoming lost at sea and dependent on location, sharks.  Apparently it can be quite exhilarating.  The trick is to surf under a full moon and wear a bight top over your wetsuit, its also best to surf with a group.  However you clearly wont be able to undertake a surf lesson during the night!

11.  Have you ever surfed the Bournemouth surf reef?

I have never actually surfed the reef in Boscombe before because I’ve been told by numerous surfers, and read different articles that all inform that the surf reef doesn’t actually work, despite the fact that it cost £3.6 million out of taxpayers money.  If you would like to know more on the surf reef please click here for more details, or visit www.thisisdorset.net

The Artificial Surf Reef



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Peter Fowler

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