When asked: “Is surfing dangerous”, it’s hard to give a clear answer. More
I know the perfect surfboard probably doesn’t exist. The best surfboard in the world is what you think is the best surfboard in the world. But there are millions of surfboards out there, in all shapes and sizes. What should you choose?
Nowadays all major surf brands sell boards, and many local shops have shaping rooms. But there are still real shapers out there, who take pride in perfecting the craft.
Many proud brands (like Channel Island or JS) produce top of the line surfboards, and they all must rightly be considered as the best in their field. They have small nuances, making some shapers preferred by some surfers, while other surfers have other preferences.
It’s the old Gibson vs Fender, different strokes for different blokes- kind of story. I have my personal favorite and its Firewire. I have no commercial interests in making this statement, nor do I claim to know all shapers out there. So be aware that this is only my humble opinion, not the universal truth (even though I think it is).
But why? I’m glad you asked. Here is why I think the best surfboard in the world, most probably has a Firewire Surfboard logo on it somewhere.
The man behind Firewire Surfboards, Nev Hyman, is a true legend. In 1975 Nev started Odyssey Surfboards in Perth, West Australia. After a couple of years, he changed the name to Nev Surfboards, which in 1998 became Nev Future Shapes.
In the beginning, Nev was perhaps most known as a Christ-centered company and a tagline including the word “neva”. But as his shaping skills evolved, so did his business. He Put together a team of highly talented surfers, including Sonny Garcia. He promoted his surfers as “Future Champions”, and as we all know, in 2000 Sonny became world champion.
Besides being recognized as one the best shapers in the world, Nev is equally known as being a pioneer in the development of an automated shaping process. In the early 90’s, computer-shaped boards were not generally recognized in the surf community, and both surfers and shapers argued that hand shaped boards had more “magic” than machine-made boards. Nev argued that he always shaped the prototype, including the magic. Problem is, if you make a magic board, it is impossible to recreate that board by hand. This new technology enabled him to produce exact replicas of magic carpets. So he helped create the APS3000 / AKU Shaper which is now the industry standard.
In 2004 Nev folded Nev Future Shapes and went all in on creating a new approach to making surfboards. Nev and Bert Burger started a company devoted to making the best possible surfboards possible. They started by redesigning the surfboard from the ground up, bending the rules in order to achieve perfection. Voila, Firewire Surfboards was born.
In 1994 Nev built the largest surfboard ever, and today he is deeply involved with building sustainable houses. But when he is not saving the planet, he still shapes for Firewire. But as he claims, his shapers are so good, that he doesn’t wish to compete with them.
All Firewire Surfboards are constructed using Expanded Polystyrene Foam. The core of the boards is also essential to the design of Firewire Surfboards. A heavier core makes the board both more responsive and stable during rail changes.
Firewire relies on the Future Shapes Technology Parabolic Balsa Rails to control flexibility. These boards also use high-density aerospace composite foam that is vacuum-attached to both the bottom and the top decks of the board. This adds significant strength the final surfboard and is more durable than polyurethane surfboards.
The rails are created from 12mm balsa wood and shaped into 3 x 4mm strips that control flex, add strength and allow the board to be protected from rail dings. This allows the board to be durable and retain its ‘feel’ for an extended amount of time.
Perhaps most known for his innovative designs, and his thoughts on the the physics of surfing are DANIEL THOMSON (TOMO). In recent years Daniel has challenged the traditional concepts by introducing radical new designs, pushing the entire evolution of the sport forward. But Firewire also houses shapers such as DAN MANN, JON PYZEL, MARK MARTINSON, and GREG WEBBER.
Firewire is also working closely together with the best surfers this planet has ever produced. Both Rob Machado and Kelly Slater are shaping Firewire surfboards, riding their own designs and testing out new possibilities.
Basically Firewire has organised their Board selection in two categories, one based on customised designs from different shapers. The other category offers a vide variety of boards, meeting the general needs of a vide variety of surfers.
The more traditional range of boards includes the following categories: PERFORMANCE, GROVELER, GROM, EVERYDAY, CROSSOVER and STEP UP. These boards are made for everybody. You can find the perfect board for small waves, big waves, the inexperienced, the pro, the young and the old.
I know this says absolutely nothing about Firewire surfboards, but still, if the best surfers in the world ride Firewire, then it must be a little more than just all right. And the rooster is quite impressive.
First and foremost the king of the sport, Kelly Slater both designs and rides Firewire. But other pro surfers such as Michel Bourez and Stu Kennedy are on the team. As mentioned surf- style icon Rob Machado also both rides and shapes Firewire surfboards. Timmy Reyes shreds Firewire, and one of the biggest superstars of the sport, Wingnut, also rides Firewire longboards.
Firewire Surfboards are respected for the effort they put into producing eco-friendly boards. All Firewire Surfboards are constructed using Expanded Polystyrene Foam. This material is more environmentally friendly than polyurethane and can also be recycled. In addition, Firewire boards use only epoxy resins because they emit an estimated 2 percent of the volatile organic compounds that polyurethane resins do.
All boards produced by Firewire meets the standard of ECOBOARD Certification.
From 2018 Firewire will use REREZ which is a recyclable epoxy resin. Any fiberglass, carbon, or EPS product manufactured with REREZ (for example a surfboard) can be submerged into a concentrated vinegar solution that dissolves the REREZ epoxy into liquid and separates it from the product it was laminated to.
Granted, Firewire surfboards are a little pricey, but in reality, they cost about the same as any other high-end brand. So the question is, do you get more bang for your buck?
Back in the days, I imported 10 Nev Future shapes. Back then we only had 1 other Surfboard brand in our area (from a renowned brand), and The Nev Future Shapes smoked them. The Future Shapes held 2-3 times longer than other brands, they were shaped to perfection, and the graphics were unbelievable.
I believe that Firewire still honors the originalv alues from back then. And they have kept pushing the standard, often being frontrunners in the industry. It seems as if Firewire didn’t accept status quo, always trying to optimize every aspect of the surfboard. Better shapes, better materials, better durability, better flexibility, more sustainability etc.
As stated in the beginning, I am not saying my opinion is the universal truth, but the way I see it Firewire Surfboards houses the best shapers in the world, the best surfers, and is by far the most progressive in the shaping business. At the same time, Firewire Surfboards always puts quality above everything else.
Granted many of our readers know how to surf. But I for one wish that somebody gave me a rundown of all the small tips and tricks. Because understanding as many of the general principals applied in surfing as possible, further improves the experience. It took me forever to learn to surf, and I must admit that the learning curve was pretty horizontal. But I am sure, that if I had truly understood some of these small tips and tricks, I would have learned how to surf much faster (and with fever critical situations under my belt). If these things are explained well, I know you will be riding waves in no time. But pay attention to them all, they may help you avoid dangerous situations or just painful experiences.
Before you go
Before even heading down to the beach, there are some key things that you should take into consideration. It’s not all fun and games, so if you are serious about trying surfing, it might be a good idea to understand all aspects of surfing, including safety, gear etc.
First and foremost we must bring you a warning. Surfing is highly addictive, and will most certainly change your life drastically. Before you know it you will be using words like “rad” and “gnarly”, you will miss out on your own wedding ceremony if the waves are pumping, and you will forever check the weather forecast 30 times a day. If you accept the risk involved, please continue reading.
Secondly, we truly believe that riding a wave is the ultimate feeling in the world (hence the addictive nature), so naturally, you want to ride many waves as fast as possible. Ultimately, you want to ride waves on your first day of surfing. This is not impossible, but bear in mind, it’s not that easy. And remember that the ocean is a dangerous place, so for the sake of your own wellbeing, and others, try to understand that there are rules to the game.Rules you must forever obey.
1. Know what you are getting in to
Even if you don’t know how to surf, you all understand the concept of surfing; riding a wave. But there is so much more to surfing than just riding the wave. There are many aspects of surfing, so please take your time understanding these. It might not only save you a lot of time and effort in the long run but most importantly, it keeps you and others out of harm’s way.
Understand that the act of surfing involves physical stamina, the right equipment and navigating in rough or even extreme weather conditions. The ocean is something that demands respect, so never underestimate the power of salty H2O. So come as prepared as possible.
2. Assess the old rig
As mentioned, surfing involves some physique. I have have seen people in the shapes of their lives puking from exhaustion. On the other hand, You don’t have to look like Brad Pitt in Fight Club in order to enjoy the sport of surfing. But I don’t think I know a surfer, who doesn’t feel like he could squeeze some more waves out of a session if just he trained a bit.
So yeah, do your self the favor and get as ready as possible for whats in store, because I can guarantee you, you are not. The better shape you are in, the better are the chances of catching waves. Start off by focusing on eating right. A good diet is the easiest way to obtaining a healthy body.
Another good thing is staying limber. So do stretching exercises regularly or go all in and do some yoga. Also, see if you can work on your upper body. Focus specifically on your back, arms, shoulders, and chest. Push ups and burpees are always good. Also, Pilates is great for surfing. Pilates will greatly benefit your core muscles, your motorics, and your balance.
3. Getting the right equipment
When learning how to surf you need a board that has a lot of volume, so size matters. Often Surf Shops will rent out big longboards, with a foam surface to beginners. This is a ideal board for the beginner for a variety of reasons. The foam protects you from damaging yourself and others, and these boards can really take a beating without breaking.
The volume of the board keeps the board floating much better than a smaller board. This lets the beginner navigate easier, paddle faster and catch more waves. It also makes the board more stable, which makes it easier for the surfer to get to their feet. The board also lets you surf the whitewater, so you can practice in almost any conditions. So concentrate on getting a foam board between 8 ft – 9 ft.
The wetsuit is important but sometimes just as important are gloves and boots. But for some reason, these things are often underrated by the beginner surfer. I have seen beginners never making it out because they turned blue, went into shock, just to return to shore dressed as an ice cube. And believe me, you only make this mistake once, it can be a really painful experience. Even if the water is warm, wetsuits can be a good idea; it protects you from the sun, but it also protects your torso, arm, and legs from the friction of the surfboard. I have seen nipples bleed from rubbing against the surfboard.
The first thing you do is to check the water temperature of the spot. But you must also consider the air temperature, wind speed, your Sensitivity to Getting Cold and your level of activity in the lineup. But a rule of thumb, if the water temperature is
- 25° over above you don’t need a wetsuit
- Between 22° – 25° you will want a “shortie” (a wetsuit with no arm or legs), especially in the chilly mornings and evenings
- Between 20° – 22° you´ll need a springsuit (3/2 mm), which is a thin and flexible neoprene suit, that covers almost the whole body
- From 15° – 20° you can still use a good springsuit, but you will be much better off with a 4/3 wetsuit. It is a little less flexible, but the extra layer of neoprene really works wonders.
- Between 12° – 15° you’ll want good 4/3 wetsuit and some booties. If its really windy, I would also prefer a 5/3 wetsuit, again choosing warmth over flexibility.
- From 9° – 12° a good wetsuit, and both gloves and shoes become critical.
- From 9° and below you will want the full survival pack. A quality 6/5/4 wetsuit, thick booties, gloves and a hoodie
The other stuff
Before jumping into the waves, you will a few extra things. A surfboard cannot function properly without fins. There are a lot of different fins in all shapes and sizes, but for now, just know you will need some. They will stabilize the board when riding on the wave. Without them, you will slide down the wave, without having full control. If you rent a foam board, it will most certainly come with fins.
You will also nee a leash. The leash is both attached to your leg and your board. This functions as a safety precaution so that you will never be completely separated from your board. If you are not used to surfing, you will most probably wipe out, sending you and your board in different directions. If you can’t get to your board, you must rely solely on your swimming skills. This makes the leash key, so don´t attempt to surf without one.
Another thing is wax for your surfboard. It is normally not necessary to put wax on a foam board, but on the classic types of boards, you will need to rub some wax on. This makes it much easier for your feet to get a strong grip on the board. So apply some wax either on the entire upper side of the board or just in the middle section on the upper side.
3. Before entering the lineup
When you find yourself on the beach, you will feel an uncontrollable desire to put on your leash and run directly into the water. But before you hit the waves, you must do a few simple things. The things are also key.
Asses the conditions at hand
When you are standing on the beach, looking towards the ocean, you will see three sections. The whitewater, the impact zone, and outback. Always take your time to identify these sections. The section can change over time, so always be aware of where the zones are placed.
Outback is the place where you will find no waves breaking. Outback is always the farthest from shore and is generally the place right before the wave breaks. This is where the other surfers are sitting, in safety from breaking waves. This place is also often described as “the line up”.
The impact zone
This is where the wave breaks, transforming from a clean swell into an explosion of water. This is where you do not want to be. Always try to avoid this place. For starters this place is filled with current and mushy waters, making it incredibly hard to paddle. Another thing is that the impact zone is pretty dangerous. You can get smashed on shallow reef, collide with other surfers, or get hit by your own board. So again, always avoid this place.
The White Water
When learning how to surf, this is where it all begins. When the waves break, they send lines of exploding white water towards the shore. Here you will feel safe and be able to practice the basics of paddling, taking off on a wave, and navigating while standing on the board.
Identify the entry and exit spots
This something I wish I had paid more attention to in the past when I learned how to surf. Stand on the shore and watch how the locals enter the lineup, and how they get on shore. Remember that they have been surfing this place for a long time, and they know all about the shape of the bottom, the current, tides etc. So watch carefully, what are the locals doing, and how do they do it.
For many years I laughed at my mates, when they stretched on the beach before a session. But now I know why this is so important. Being limber and fresh keeps you surfing longer, better, and with a much smaller risk of being injured. Besides, it doesn’t take long, and while stretching you can asses the conditions.
Practice the pup up
This is really one of the most key elements. This exercise lets you get a feel for the pop-up, in a controlled environment. It is much harder learning the pop up on a board that wiggles while trying to navigate. So learn the pop-up, so that it becomes an integrated part of your muscle memory. You will have plenty of other things to think about when you’re in the soup. If you want to learn how to surf, this is the main ingredient I would say. It is the one thing that most people struggles the most with. Learn it on land, so you don´t have to try to learn the pop up in the water.
On your first pop up, figure out what leg you put first. this determines your stance. If you have your left feet in front on your board, your stance is regular. If your right foot is in front, your stance is goofy. Put your leash, around your back ankle. So if you ride regular stance, put your leash on your right foot, and visa versa.
How to surf
Start in the white water
As mentioned above, it is a good idea to start learning how to surf in the white water. So head out in the white water and get comfortable. Stay near the shore, and always be in a safe distance of other surfers. Get yourself in position, point your board towards shore, and get ready to jump on. As soon as you see a line of white water approach, jump on the board, and paddle towards the beach. You will feel the wave grabbing the board, sending you towards the beach. When you can feel acceleration, you do a pop-up, and voila, you are surfing.
Making it out back
In order to surf the actual wave, first, you must paddle out further than the impact zone, out into safe outback zone. Here the waves don’t break, so you are relatively safe here. Once you get to this location, you can rest. But it can be a struggle.
If you are going to paddle out on a point- or reef break, then you can almost always see where to paddle out. If you followed this guide you will know where the locals paddle out, so imitate them. But if you are surfing a beach break, the waves can be a bit fickle. A good rule of thumb is to always paddle out, where there is no white water. And as mentioned, always avoid the impact zone.
Another important rule is, that when you paddle out, you must never let go of your board. If you bail and let go of your board, it might hit another surfer. And always keep a safe distance from others. And when you paddle out, never paddle directly towards the lineup. If you do this then you will be in the way of other surfers. If you are on your way out, and you see a surfer riding a wave approaching, then you must make get out the way. In fact, if your only option is to smoothly paddle over the surface of the wave, but interfering with the surfer’s ride, and paddling into the breaking part of the wave, potentially taking a wave on the head, then you must choose the latter. So never be in the way of a surfing surfer.
Another trick that I cannot stress enough is to relax while paddling. Many use all of their stamina in the first 10 minutes, but even if you are not used to paddling, it doesn’t have to be so exhausting. When you are just paddling from A to B, remember to take good and long breaths, and try to relax in your arms, so don’t give it all you got. This way you have much more stamina that you can use for the fun part; surfing.
Catching a wave
So you have finally arrived outback, ready to catch a wave. First and foremost catch your breath, let your arms rest a bit, and take the time to orientate yourself. Use the beach as a tool to pinpoint your location in the lineup. And see where other surfers are sitting. Know that the proper surf etiquette is to take turns. So if you see other surfers standing on a wave, don’t paddle.
When you are ready, and you see a good looking wave approach, turn your board around and paddle towards the beach. At a certain point you will feel the wave under your board, and at this time you must paddle hard. Really hard, and then some. Know that if you take 3-4 paddling strokes at just the right time it is enough, but until you have your timing on lock, just know that you must obtain a certain speed in order to glide down the surface of the wave. So paddling like your life depends on it.
Another good trick is to raise your head and chest as high as possible when trying to catch a wave. Believe me, this is the secret ingredient. For some reason, if you stretch your chest, neck, and head upwards, you catch the wave much easier. So if you struggle to catch the wave, remember this trick.
The most critical point of the take-off, is getting to your feet. I always was in awe of the surfers who could stand up on a wave mid-air, straight in a barrel or just when the wave shuts down. I still think it is really hard, but a local Moroccan (Indy) surfer once gave me some nice advice. He said, that the only thing you must focus on at that moment is: “feet to board, feet to board, feet to bard…..”. And in some weird way this simple advice helped me quite a lot, and from that day, I was able to really raise my late take off- game. So when you feel the speed from gliding down the wave, think one thing: FEET TO BOARD.
If you manage to get to your feet, quickly see if you can glide along the wall of the wave, and not the foam. Know that if you make it this far, there are no rules. It’s all freedom. When the wave ends, paddle back out and repeat the procedure.
We really hope we helped you catch your first wave! And if you enjoyed this article on how to surf or have any questions for us, please leave them in the comment section below!
This sounds like a dream day, just you or you and a couple of friends if you’re feeling social and of course, your surfboards. No work, no worries, nothing except you and the sea, however, we all are aware of the old adage, ‘fail to plan and you will plan to fail’. Unfortunately not even something as picturesque as a trip to the beach can be exempt from such tried and tested wisdom. Hence we decided to put our heads together and come up with some things that you definitely need to think about before heading out onto the road.
Firstly, and this one can come across as kind of obvious, but checking the weather forecast is key, and no we don’t mean a quick glance at your phone to see what the temperature is. What you actually want to find out is how is the day going to look approximately for the entire time you will be out on the water. How likely are you to experience rain? Will there be heavy winds? Will the skies be clear or overcast and is there any cause for concern?
Now that you have all of that down, you may want to start assembling all of the supplies you will need to take with you. If you are going to a remote area or as a “just in case” precaution be sure to pack a first-aid kit in your car for any little scratches or minor injuries that you may incur while in the water. Next, do not forget your sunscreen, after sun, lip balm and any other sun protection products that you may need in order to protect your skin while you are out hitting the surf.
Moving on, make sure you have all the gear you will need for the day, from a wetsuit straight through to your surfboard and wax for the board as well, however, you may be lucky enough to stay in a warmer climate with lovely warm water, where a rash vest and shorts could be your ideal outfit. Oh, and be sure to pack your surfboard’s leash as well. And for those who are entirely new to the world of surfing, No, this is not the same leash you use to walk Spot around the block with.
Then of course there are plenty of other things to think about before you head out on your mission, firstly, do not forget the coffee, especially if you have decided to rouse yourself at some unheard of hour early in the morning in order to get to the beach before the break of dawn. While you are getting your first cup of coffee in your system, be sure to fill a thermos with some extra coffee for when you step out of the water for your midmorning snack break, this brings us to our next port of call, snacks.
Food for the road is a time honored tradition, each family has their own way of doing it and there really is no right or wrong way of preparing for a road trip but you do have to have snacks. Whether you pack sandwiches and crisp packets, or more wholesome foods such as pasta or muffins, or if you recognize your inner consumer and head to your nearest takeaway joint to fuel up for the road, a road trip simply isn’t a trip if munching doesn’t take place in the car.
Be sure to pack yourself plenty of water in order to keep yourself hydrated after being out in the surf for so long, after all you don’t want to become the famous family Christmas story of how you got dehydrated at the beach, because we all know one of the not so funny uncles will chime in and say “well, why didn’t they just have some seawater?” This is why you need to stay on top of your hydration situation and keep drinking water.
Finally, be sure to have a safe place to store all of your valuables while surfing, such as car keys, wallet, cell phone or even just your towel, this will help give you peace of mind to relax, kick back and surf your worries away. We hope this helps you plan your next surf mission.
Now that you know what you need, where and when are you going?
The iconic image of surfers tend to involve something of an endless tan, hair that is blonder than ever from constantly being kissed by the sun and just a general air of excitement that comes from living life on the edge. What is most certainly left out of the picture is sunburns, peeling skin, a blood red nose and hair that is as dry as a rock because of continually being thrashed by the saltwater and whipped by the wind. However, there are ways to combat these after effects of surfing and to keep you looking in perfect shape, today we decided to explore them and help you look like you’ve spent hours worshipping the sun not being mauled by it.
It all begins with something that everybody should be doing anyway; regardless of whether you are spending the day riding away your problems out in the water or if you are sitting at your desk in an air-conditioned office, sunscreen is an essential part of our beauty regimen. However, if you are spending your time out on the ocean this becomes an even more critical part of your routine, regardless of how the weather outside may look the water is not only absolutely fantastic at reflecting the sun’s rays back onto your skin but can also easily wash off sunscreens that are not up to par.
Covering up with a wetsuit, or a t-shirt and leggings are absolutely essential to minimize exposure to the sun and then using waterproof sunscreens and multispectral sunscreens that cover all forms of the suns radiation will really help keep you covered while out on the waves. Other ways you can protect yourself include, surfing at non-peak hours for sunlight, hint hint the early hours of the morning just around sunrise and late into the evening heading towards or just after sunset, to help reduce the amount of sun exposure you receive.
Maybe a 5am wakeup call it is then, catch the surf with little worry of too many others out at sea and protect your skin while you’re at it. However, if you find yourself in an awkward situation where instead of looking like a tanned mythological god, you look more akin to a tomato; fear not there is hope for you yet. Tomatoes and green tea will be on your dinner menu. Tomatoes have been proven to be effective at reducing the harms of sunburn, so pull out the pizza, pasta, toasted sandwiches or even a salad for your next meal. Just make sure you have a generous helping of tomatoes.
Green tea is known to help alleviate the swelling, redness and tension of your sunburn, so make sure to wash down your generous supply of tomatoes at dinner with a cup of green tea to make certain your sunburn will be more of an annoyance than a full-blown pest. When wandering down the aisles of any beauty department, you will see a section within the hair care category that is allocated to beachy hair and sun-kissed blonde, this probably has to do with people like surfers who so often are blessed with natural highlights and hair in effortless tousled waves.
While there is a different side to this story, for starters, the salty seawater, combined with the wind and the sun relentlessly beating down on your head can leave your hair feeling dry and bedraggled, rather than shiny and soft. You might be wondering at this point how on earth surfers deal with these kinds of problems, there is a secret of course, but don’t worry we will reveal what it is.
I’m sure you’ve guessed it already, the well-kept secret that is loved by many a surfer to keep their locks long, soft, and shiny is none other than leave in conditioner and we aren’t talking about putting in a little every now and then. Oh no, if you plan on hitting the waves on a regular basis, you will be applying leave in conditioner on a routine basis. This wraps up a couple ways you can best protect yourself from the sun while out in the water, so next time you head out don’t forget to stash some sunscreen in your car.