Surf kayaking is more akin to surfing on a surf board than it is to white-water kayaking or play boating and it is this understanding that will help you with your surfing and help you to stay safe in the surf. Below we have some safety tips and some rules of the road to help you with your surfing.
Before going into the water you need to check:
- The weather and tide times.
- The conditions and size of the surf.
- Look for rips and currents.
- Ask the lifeguards if there are any hazards.
- Surf in the designated flagged area (between the black and white flags).
Sometimes the surf might be overcrowded and if you’re just starting out it would be wise to move somewhere else or go to the other end of the beach where the waves are smaller.
Don’t ‘drop in’
The ‘drop in’ happens when more than one surfers try to catch the same wave, if both surfers catch the wave at the same time the surfer closest to the peak or critical point has right of way (the other surfers will be blocking the surfers path) and must and get off the wave. If you do accidentally ‘drop in’ on someone go over and apologise afterwards ensuring that there is a good surfing atmosphere for all around.
When paddling out the person surfing a wave has right of way, try to give them a clear ride (you would want it if you were surfing).
Don’t hog the waves
Kayaks can move around the surf zone much quicker than surfers or body borders, make sure you don’t take all the good waves.
If you spot a fellow surfer in trouble try to help them if is safe for you to do so, if you can, try to alert other surfers or the lifeguards by waving one arm or paddle above your head.
Know your limits
It is better to find somewhere you can surf safely or call it a day if the conditions change, than risk injuring yourself, someone else or being rescued!
But most of all remember; it doesn’t matter what you’re riding as long as you’re safe and having fun!
By Tom Hatt