Going on a surf trip is one of the best experiences a surfer can have. The worst case scenario is that you are unable to surf due to health/injury concerns. Below are our top tips to keep your trip safe, you healthy, and your sessions long.
Pre Trip Preparation
This is one of the most overlooked parts of a surf trip. Leading up to your trip it is vital to make sure your body is in the best condition it can be. If you live near the ocean try and surf as much as possible before leaving. The best training for surf is surf. If you are not as fortunate as a coastal dweller your job becomes a little more difficult. Swimming is best, but any cardio (running, cycling, rowing) will really help at that 3-4 hour mark of your sessions.
If the waves you will be surfing are on the heavier side, I would also recommend starting a breath holding routine to make sure the long hold downs won’t be an issue. If you have any long term aches or injuries make sure to take extra special care of them before heading out. This means doing (yes actually doing) that physical therapy that go prescribed to you, stretching and strengthening. You want your body to be in the best possible shape for the trip.
Pack/Prepare for the Worst
Make sure to pack up the essentials (Pre Trip Packing list) as well as any extras that the environment requires. This could be an extra first aid kit or a satellite phone for emergencies. The Boy Scouts say: “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst” and this holds very true for any surf trip. You do not want to find yourself in a situation that you haven’t prepped or planned for.
Know Before you Go
The fact that every surf destination is different is one of the reasons it never gets old to travel for surf. However, this also means that every destination comes with its own hazards both in and out of the water. Going to J-Bay? Keep the sharks in the back of your mind. Heading somewhere tropical? Make sure to get that malaria shot before you go. This really boils down to doing your research on your destination. You want to be knowledgable of every potential environmental hazard and then prepare accordingly, at the minimum you’ll be aware of what you are getting yourself into.
When in Doubt…Don’t Paddle Out
Arriving to a new surf spot can be an intimidating experience. Especially if you are used to surfing waist to chest beachbreaks and you come face to face with a heaving overhead reef break. The tried and true rule is if you are doubting your ability to surf and be safe at the break, you should not be out in the lineup.
Talk to the locals to learn as much as you can about the surf break before deciding to go out or not. They are usually the best resources for diagnosing the current difficulty of the conditions. Take into account your fitness, comfort, and equipment then make your choice. A good rule of thumb regarding the conditions is if you feel that you could not swim out to the lineup and back to the shore/boat without your board you should not be out there.
This is one of the killers of any surf trip! Too much UV will not only crisp your skin but can lead to sun poisoning: Vomiting, exhaustion, and dehydration. You might be able to tolerate a sunburn, but the other symptoms will exile you to the shore. Make sure to wear good thick sunscreen to keep yourself in the game!
Hydration Hydration Hydration
This should go without saying but you’ll be losing a lot of fluids during your sessions/sunbathing (if you’re somewhere tropical). Electrolyte mixes are one of the best inventions for surfers. Try and pick some up or bring some to really replenish your system. Among other negative effects, dehydration leads to bad decision-making which can end your trip in a hurry.
If all goes to plan you’ll be surfing often for long periods of time. This will burn a whole lot of calories that need to be matched to keep your body in shape. Don’t be afraid of carbs and fat, this will give your body the quick and long term nutrients it needs to keep chugging along. It’s easy to get into the habit of eating out and forgetting to eat your greens, but these are vital for providing energy into your system while you’re out in the water.
A Night on the Town
Maybe you picked an area that is renown for nightlife, intentionally or otherwise. There’s nothing wrong with putting back a few drinks with new or old friends, but keep in mind that the hangover could potentially wreck your next session and trip. There’s a reason that Kolohe Andino and his crew didn’t allow alcohol on their legendary boat trip. Know your body and keep in mind that the waves might be firing the next morning.
Last but not least is the good ol’ buddy system. Even if you are going on your trip solo it is usually best to surf spots with at least one other person out. It is vital in emergency situations to have another individual in the water with you. Depending on where you are going this could also translate to land, crime is usually committed against individuals, not groups or pairs.
The best surf trip is filled with good waves and good times. But it also ends with you safe and sound back at home. Make sure to follow these tips when heading on a trip and you’ll be telling your mates for years about the epic times that didn’t end in disaster!