If you have a new account but are having problems posting or verifying your account, please email us on for help. Thanks :)
Hello all! Please ensure that you are posting a new thread or question in the appropriate forum. The Feedback forum is overwhelmed with questions that are having to be moved elsewhere. If you need help to verify your account contact
Hi all,
Vanilla are planning an update to the site on April 24th (next Wednesday). It is a major PHP8 update which is expected to boost performance across the site. The site will be down from 7pm and it is expected to take about an hour to complete. We appreciate your patience during the update.
Thanks all.

Useful advice for surfing

  • 15-02-2010 6:40pm
    Registered Users Posts: 451 ✭✭

    The information below has been cut and pasted from another forum, it is useful to all, some of it common sense, some of it good advice, some of it is etiquette

    Be Aware
    . Be aware of other surfers and water users, of the surf conditions, and of where you are surfing.
    Comfort Zone. You should surf in waves that you are comfortable in, don't get in over your head.
    Fitness. Make sure you are physically fit when surfing. You need to be able to swim back to shore if you lose your board at the end of an exhausting session - no mean feat in a 3 metre swell.
    Food. As with swimming, do not go surfing for at least 45 mins after a meal.
    Fun. Surfing is all about having fun, keep it in mind when you are out in the waves.
    Hold or Throw. Know when to hold onto your surfboard and when to get rid of it. If you are paddling out then keep hold of your board, you'll get out back to the line up more quickly and you will not put anyone paddling out behind you at risk. If you are about to wipe-out then get rid of your board. You are far more likely to sustain an injury if you and your board are getting washed around together.
    Priority. Always make sure that you are not taking anyone else's wave. Remember, the surfer who is closest to the breaking wave has priority. If you see someone already on a wave then the wave is taken and you'll have to wait for the next one.
    Practice. If you want to improve then you need to be in the water surfing as regularly as possible. No-one got any better at anything by staying home and watching TV.
    Respect. Respect the locals if you are visiting a beach. Remember that you are a guest and that waves should be shared.
    Rips. If you are caught in a rip remember that it's called R.I.P. for a reason and you will probably not make it back to dry land ever again. Although hopefully you already know that a rip is a strong current that (normally) goes straight out to sea and if caught in one that you should not panic and paddle across the rip (not against it) until you have escaped.
    Surf Buddy. Always surf with at least one other person. Not only will you have more fun if you are sharing your waves but you will always have someone to help you out if you need it.
    Surf Conditions. Make sure that the surf is safe before you go in. If you are going surfing at a spot you are unfamiliar with it is a good idea to get some advice from a local. Check out the surf spot while warming up.

    Surfing Etiquette is the most important thing to learn before you set foot in the surf. These rules are not so much "rules" as they are a proper code of conduct designed to keep everyone in the water safe and happy. People who repeatedly break these rules are often given the stink-eye, a stern talking to, yelled at with obscenities, or just flat out beat up.

    With the growing popularity of surfing, the number of people in the water is on the rise and unfortunately surfing etiquette is gradually eroding away, New surfers should memorize these rules.

    Rule #1: Right of Way
    The surfer closest to the peak of the wave has the right of way. This means if you're paddling for a right, and a surfer on your left is also paddling for it, you must yield to him or her. There are a couple variations to this rule:

    If someone is up riding a wave, don't attempt a late takeoff between the curl/whitewater and the surfer. If the surfer who's riding the wave wants to make a cutback she'll run right into you.

    Just because the whitewater catches up to a surfer riding a wave doesn't give you permission to take off down the line. Many talented surfers can outrun the section and get back to the face of the wave.

    A-Frames or Split Peaks: If two surfers are on either side of the peak, they each have the right of way to take off on their respective sides. It's not generally accepted to take off behind the peak unless there's nobody on the other side. These surfers should split the peak and go opposite ways.

    If a surfer riding a wave gets closed out with an impossible section or wipes out, the next surfer down the line can take off. If you're a very new beginner I'd hold off on doing this anyway until you have a bit more experience.

    If a wave is breaking towards itself (a closeout) and two surfers are taking off at each other, yes both have the right of way but this is a perilous situation and it's advisable to kick out early to avoid a collision.




    Rule #2: Don't Drop InThis is related to Rule #1. This is probably the most important part of surfing etiquette. Dropping in means that someone with the right of way is either about to take off on a wave or is already riding a wave, and you also take off on the same wave in front of him or her. This blocks his ride down the line, and is extremely annoying, not to mention dangerous. If you are tempted to drop in remember this: no matter how good the wave is, if you drop in on someone you'll feel like crap, the other surfer will be pissed, and the wave will be ruined for everyone.


    Rule #3: Paddling Rules:Some common sense surfing etiquette rules that people don't seem to realize are important. Don't paddle straight through the heart of the lineup where people are surfing. Paddle out through the channel where the waves aren't breaking and people aren't surfing. Sometimes at spread out beach breaks this is hard, but usually there is a less crowded area to paddle through.

    When paddling back out, do NOT paddle in front of someone riding a wave unless you're well, well in front of him. You must paddle behind those who are up and riding and take the whitewater hit or duckdive. You'll appreciate this the next time you're up on a wave.

    Sometimes you'll just end up in a bad spot and won't be able to paddle behind a surfer. It's your responsibility to speed paddle to get over the wave and out of his or her way. If you don't do this, he or she might just run you over!


    Rule #4: Don't Ditch Your BoardThis is important, especially when it gets crowded. Always try to maintain control and contact with your board. Surfboards are large, heavy, and hard. If you let your board go flying around, it is going to eventually clock someone in the head. This means if you're paddling out and a wall of whitewater is coming, you don't have permission to just throw your board away and dive under. If you throw your board and there is someone paddling out behind you, there is going to be carnage. This is a hard rule for beginners, but if you manage to avoid picking up the habit of throwing your board you will be a MUCH better surfer.

    Rule #5: Don't Snake"Snaking" is when a surfer paddles around another surfer in order position himself to get the right of way for a wave. He is effectively making a big "S" around a fellow surfer. While not immediately hazardous to your health, this is incredibly annoying. You can't cut the lineup. Patiently wait your turn. Wave hogs don't get respect in the water. Also, being a local doesn't give you permission to ruthlessly snake visitors who are being polite. If they're not being polite, well…

    Rule #6: Beginners: don't paddle out to the middle of a packed lineup.This is kind of open to interpretation, but it still stands: if you're a beginner you should try to avoid paddling out into the middle of a pack of experienced veterans. Try to go out to a less crowded beginner break. You'll know you're in the wrong spot if you get the stink-eye!

    Rule #7: Don't be a wave hog.Just because you can catch all the waves doesn't mean you should. This generally applies to longboarders, kayakers, or stand up paddlers. Since it's easier to catch waves on these watercraft, it becomes tempting to catch them all, leaving nothing for shortboarders on the inside. Give a wave, get a wave.

    Rule #8: Respect the beachDon't litter. Simple as that. Pick up your trash, and try to pick up a few pieces of trash before you leave even if it's not yours.

    Rule #9: Drive responsiblyThe locals who live in the residential areas near the beach deserve your respect. Don't speed or drive recklessly.

    Rule #10: If you mess upNobody really mentions this in surfing etiquette lists, but if you mess up and accidentally drop in or mess up someone's wave, a quick apology is appreciated, and goes a long way to reducing tension in crowded lineups. You don't have to grovel at their feet (well, unless you did something horrible). Honestly, if you drop in on someone and then ignore them, it's pretty stupid.

    Rule #11: Don’t Publicize!
    Unless the break is a well known spot, like for e.g. Lahinch, Bundoran, or Strandhill, taking photo’s and posting them on the Internet is regarded as unacceptable in the surfing community. If you publicize a break in this manner you draw attention to it, which in turns draws more people to it, which means a place gets more crowded and there is more aggro in the water. The more you talk about a break to those who haven’t surfed it the more damage you do to it, and yourself in the long run because the more people there are in the water the less waves there are for you. Think about it.


  • Registered Users Posts: 2,169 ✭✭✭xxyyzz

    Some basics. (Tony Butt's book Surf Science is well worth a read)

    For ideal surfing conditions, you first need a light offshore wind (10 knots or less). This means that the wind is blowing off the land out to sea. This gives the surface of the water a smooth texture like this

    rather than onshore or cross-shore conditions which causes choppy messy conditions like this

    I normally use for forecasts. To find a spot that is offshore, check the wind direction and then find a spot that suits that direction e.g. look at Lahinch on a map - it faces west therefore you would ideally need a light easterly wind.

    The wind is mostly going to be northerly this weekend so south facing beaches will be offshore.

    The other thing you need to check is the direction of the swell. The swell direction needs to be pointing more or less at the spot that you want to surf. E.g. If you look at Lahinch on the map, ideally you need a South Westerly swell to get in there. The north side of the bay is quite sheltered by the headland so a northerly swell would struggle to get in there.

    The swell period is generally a measure of how powerful the swell is. Less than 8 seconds would be a pretty gutless windswell where the waves are close together. 8-10 seconds would be the norm in this country. 11 seconds plus and the waves start getting powerful and you will see that they arrive in nice evenly spaced intervals. A 2m swell at 13 seconds could produce better and more powerful waves than a 2.5m swell at 8 seconds so period is important.

    The details above describe ideal conditions but unfortunately in this country its not all that often that these conditions come together so you have to compromise.

    E.G. on Saturday there are light northerly winds forecast so south facing beaches will be offshore however the swell is tiny and westerly so there will be no swell getting into these spots. You would need to find an exposed west facing beach. The compromise is that the wind will be cross shore coming from the right making the waves choppy and crumbly.

    The info above is VERY general and does not take into account the affects that tides would have on individual spots. Some only work at high tide. Some at low tide. Some are not affected at all. Also powerful swells can bend (wrap) around headlands getting into areas that you would not expect.

    You will have to do the legwork to become familiar with individual spots and what conditions suit them best. Nobody (should) will spoonfeed this to you :D

  • Closed Accounts Posts: 767 ✭✭✭HxGH

    This is great.

    A complete and thorough collection of tips and advice for sufing!

    I hope you don't mind me passing on this information to some newbies we teach?

    I believe it will be of great benefit!

    Thank you.

  • Administrators, Computer Games Moderators, Sports Moderators Posts: 32,128 Admin ✭✭✭✭✭Mickeroo

    Here's a pretty good article from Surfline about swell period. Something I get asked about a lot and can never quite find a good way to explain it :D
    Swell Period.
    The most overlooked three-dimensional variable. Most surfers look at waves from a two-dimensional perspective: wave height and direction. But waves need to be analyzed from a three-dimensional perspective, which also includes the swell period. The swell period variable is the X-factor. It's the make or break variable and plays a huge role in the eventual size of a swell. This is why:
    1. Wave decay and travel. The longer the swell period, the more energy the wind has transferred into the ocean. Long-period swells are able to sustain more energy as they travel great distances across the ocean. Short-period swells (less than 14 seconds between wave crests) are steeper as they travel across the ocean and, therefore, are more susceptible to decay from opposing winds and seas. Long-period swells (greater than 14 seconds) travel with more energy below the ocean surface and are less steep so they can easily pass through opposing winds and seas with very little affect.

    2. Conserving energy. Swells travel as a group of waves or a "wave train." As the swell moves forward, the wave in the front of the wave train will slow down and drop back to the rear of the group while the other waves move forward by one position. Then the next wave in front moves back and another takes its place -- much like a rotating conveyor belt that is also moving forward. It's a process somewhat similar to the "drafting" technique used by bicycle racers and car racers, and it enables wave trains to conserve their energy as they travel great distances across the oceans. Working together to sustain energy.
    3. Wave speed. The speed of a swell or a wave train can be calculated by multiplying the swell period times 1.5. For example, a swell or a wave train with a period of 20 seconds will be traveling at 30 knots in deep water. (Knots are nautical miles per hour. One knot equals 1.2 mph on land.) A swell with a period of 10 seconds will travel at 15 knots. The individual waves actually move twice as fast as the wave train or the swell, and a single wave's speed can be calculated by multiplying the swell period times three. So individual waves with a period of 20 seconds travel at 60 knots in deep water. Again, think of the wave train like a rotating conveyor belt that is also moving forward.

    4. Forerunners. Long-period waves move faster than short-period waves, so they will be the first to arrive. Forerunners are the initial long-period waves that travel faster than the main body of the swell. Usually, forerunners are pulses of energy with periods of 18 to 20 seconds or more. A wave train's peak energy will usually follow in the 15- to 17-second range. The swell period will steadily drop during the life cycle of the swell as it arrives on the coast. The farther a swell travels, the greater the separation of arrival time between the forerunners and the peak of the swell. Often the forerunners will only be inches high but can be measured by buoys and other sensitive oceanographic instruments. To the naked eye, forerunners are very hard to see; sometimes you can pick them out as slight bumps on a jetty or other rocks. Surfers with a sharp eye can often sense forerunners as the "ocean seems to be moving" with extra surging and currents. Even though forerunners may only be inches high, they constitute a large amount of energy. LOLA uses real-time buoy data to separate these tiny forerunners from the rest of the swell in the water so we can identify the first signs of a new swell -- before we can see it at the beach.

    5. Swell period and ocean depth. The depth at which the waves begin to feel the ocean floor is one-half the wavelength between wave crests. Wavelength and swell period are directly relative, so we can use the swell period to calculate the exact depth at which the waves will begin to feel the ocean floor. The formula is simple: take the number of seconds between swells, square it, and then multiply by 2.56. The result will equal the depth the waves begin to feel the ocean floor. A 20-second swell will begin to feel the ocean floor at 1,024 feet of water (20 x 20 = 400. And then 400 x 2.56 = 1,024 feet deep). In some areas along California, that's almost 10 miles offshore. An 18-second wave will feel the bottom at 829 feet deep; a 16-second wave at 656 feet; a 14-second wave at 502 feet; a 12-second wave at 367 feet; a 10-second wave at 256 feet; an eight-second wave at 164 feet; a six-second wave at 92 feet and so on. As noted above, longer period swells are affected by the ocean floor much more than short-period swells. For that reason, we call long-period swells ground swells (generally 12 seconds or more). We call short-period swells wind swells (11 seconds or less) because they are always generated by local winds and usually can't travel more than a few hundred miles before they decay. Long-period ground swells (especially 16 seconds or greater) have the ability to wrap much more into a surf spot, sometimes 180 degrees, while short-period wind swells wrap very little because they can't feel the bottom until it's too late.

    6. Shoaling. When waves approach shallower water near shore, their lower reaches begin to drag across the ocean floor, and the friction slows them down. The wave energy below the surface of the ocean is pushed upward, causing the waves to increase in wave height. The longer the swell period, the more energy that is under the water. This means that long-period waves will grow much more than short-period waves. A 3-foot wave with a 10-second swell period may only grow to be a 4-foot breaking wave, while a 3-foot wave with a 20-second swell period can grow to be a 15-foot breaking wave (more than five times its deep-water height depending on the ocean floor bathymetry). As the waves pass into shallower water, they become steeper and unstable as more and more energy is pushed upward, finally to a point where the waves break in water depth at about 1.3 times the wave height. A 6-foot wave will break in about 8 feet of water. A 20-foot wave in about 26 feet of water. A wave traveling over a gradual sloping ocean floor will become a crumbly, slow breaking wave. While a wave traveling over a steep ocean floor, such as a reef, will result in a faster, hollower breaking wave. As the waves move into shallower water, the speed and the wavelength decrease (the waves get slower and move closer together), but the swell period remains the same.

    7. Refraction. Waves focus most of their energy toward shallower water. When a wave drags its bottom over an uneven ocean floor, the portion of the wave dragging over shallower water slows down while the portion wave passing over deeper water maintains its speed. The part of the wave over deeper water begins to wrap or bend in toward the shallower water -- much the same as how waves wrap and bend around a point like Rincon or Malibu. This process is called refraction. Deep-water canyons can greatly increase the size of waves as the portion of the swell moving faster over deep water bends in and converges with the portion of the swell over shallower water. This multiplies the energy in that part of the wave, causing it to grow into a larger breaking wave as it nears shore. The effects of a deep-water canyon just offshore is often why we see huge waves along one stretch of beach, while maybe just a few hundred yards down the beach the waves are considerably smaller. This happens at spots such as Black's and El Porto in Southern California, and Maverick's in Northern California. Remember, the longer the swell period, the more the waves will be affected by the ocean floor bathymetry, the more they will wrap into a spot and the more the waves will grow out of deep water.

    -Sean Collins, Surfline.

  • Registered Users Posts: 2,169 ✭✭✭xxyyzz

    A cute Kerry hoor gave me a great explanation of swell period. It's all-ireland final day and the Kingdom have wiped the floor with some poor feckers. The match is over and everyone is rushing for their cars to hit the M7 and get back to God's own paradise on Earth. This is akin to the storm that generates the swell. Each car represents a wave and you have a mixture of small ****boxes (low period swell < 8 seconds) medium sized family cars (8-11 second period swells) and powerful Beamers and Mercs (12 seconds + swells).

    A mixture of all different cars will arrive at Naas at the same time as Naas is close to Dublin. This is akin to the sea state when the storm is relatively close-by i.e. small waves, medium waves and large waves all arriving at the same time.

    Over a long enough distance the larger cars will start to stretch their legs and pull away from the rest. The medium cars will also start to pull away from the smaller cars. By the time they hit the county bounds in Kerry you will see the Beamers and Mercs arriving at nice evenly spaced intervals without any of the family cars or the ****boxes. This is the quality swell where the sets have a long period between them and none of the junk has yet arrived from the storm. After a while the swell will subside as the medium cars start to arrive and then it will turn to small junky swell.

  • Registered Users Posts: 164 ✭✭blueskys

    Some excellent advice here on reef surfing etiquette and safety,
    its in the mentawis but could apply to any reef spots here

  • Advertisement
  • Closed Accounts Posts: 1,452 ✭✭✭Ronnie Beck

  • Registered Users Posts: 1 alferdlavitov

    Can you please tell me what is the right accessory for the beginner.