With winter upon us once again surfers need to be more cautious as conditions become more extreme. Colder water and air temperatures combined with swells that are powerful, winds that are more severe and currents that are more treacherous make winter surfing more dangerous.
Leave the “gun-ho” attitude at home and make safety your priority. Do not be pressurised by others to paddle-out in conditions that you are uncomfortable with. Recognise and respect your own ability and experience.
Before you go surfing check the forecast and heed weather warnings.
Safe Surfing Guidelines
• If you are new to surfing take a lesson at an ISA Approved School or Club. Here you will be introduced to the sport in a safe environment.
• Do not attempt surfing unless you can swim.
• Do not surf alone or enter the water as dusk is approaching or if you have been drinking alcohol.
• Always let somebody on land know where you have gone and when you will return.
• Check the weather and tides before you paddle out. Learn to observe the ocean so you can identify rips, wind changes and other hazards.
• If you are unfamiliar with a break check with local surfers or other water users before paddling out.
• Ensure the waves you are surfing are of a size and power suitable to your ability. Do not get too confident. Stick to beaches until you become experienced.
• Make sure your equipment, especially your leash is in good order. Remember it is much easier to spot a brightly coloured surfboard or wetsuit at sea in the event of you requiring rescuing. Consider other safety equipment- nose guard & helmet.
• When you “wipeout” do not come to the surface too soon and when you do come to the surface protect your head with your arms.
• Always check behind you for other water users before abandoning your surfboard to dive under a wave.
• If you get caught in a rip do not try to paddle against it, paddle across it.
• If you find yourself in difficulty stay calm, do not discard your board, wave one are in the air and shout to attract attention. Do not panic help will come.
• Always respect our rescue services. Should you see a surfer in difficulty in the water DON’T DELAY phone 112 or 999 and ask for the Coast Guard. Even the most experienced surfer may at some time require assistance.
• Every surfer should attain water safety and first aid training. Such training will help prevent you from getting into difficulty and will enable you to react appropriately if you encounter another water user in difficulty.
• Be aware of other water users and always show respect regardless of craft. Above all, keep a good attitude, be friendly and apologise if you make a mistake.