|A good understanding of ocean conditions will give you a far better understanding of your local waves. It will give you the confidence to sum up surf spots which are new to you. Most of all, it will help you enter the water each day with a clear idea of which waves you want to ride. The inside bowl? The outside wall? The little peak which drifts wide every now and then and no one seems to be able to pick up? It'll be yours to choose.|
Reading the Ocean
|This strange and mysterious art has confused mankind ever since the first fisherman tried to launch a raft and was smashed back onto the rocks because the tide was coming up too fast. Nowadays, of course, we have phone surf forecasts with computers and stuff that tell us all about the waves. But it helps a lot to learn a bit about the ocean and what it's up to.
Several factors operate to affect surf conditions, all combining to create waves of unprecedented perfection, unbearable ugliness and everything in between.
|Changes the depth of the ocean on about twelve-hour cycle, in response to the moon's gravitational pull. The cycle moves forward by just under an hour each day and on most American coasts can alter water depth by up to seven feet. Some breaks are almost unaffected, others undergo an entire change of lineup from tide to tide, as waves break in different spots and the general water flow around the break - rips, surges and underwater - is also changed|
|The wind radically affects the ocean surface, and in some cases the size of the waves. An onshore wind - one blowing from the sea to the land - will break up the surface and create choppy, confused surf conditions. An offshore - from the land to the sea - smoothes the water surface close to shore and holds up the waves, often creating very hollow, clean-breaking surf. Sideshore winds - blowing up or down the coast - will affect beaches differently, depending on the direction they face. A localized windswell can sometimes result from an onshore or sideshore. Offshores will kick such a swell right in the teeth.|
|This is the wonderful thing that makes the surfing universe spin like some kind of deranged top. True swell waves are the outcome of big storm systems and will travel far from their source - thus, California can get swells from as far away as the lower reaches of the Southern Hemisphere, zany as that may sound. Direction, size and quality all count for a lot: some surf spots are only good on a big north swell, others on a small south. Still others can handle several different combinations. Beach breaks, for example are usually best when there are two swells to interact and make nicely-shaped peaks.|
|The sea floor is the thing that makes waves break and comes two basic varieties: reef (rock, coral or man-made), and sand. A third, edging around the perimeter of these two, is the boulder break, where waves break over a collection of boulders built up against a point or river-mouth. The type of bottom makes a serious difference to the wave. A porous, shifting sand bottom can create flawless lips and faces, yet lack some intensity. An unforgiving, unchanging reef bottom can focus the wave's power, yet twist the wave face and lip with strange curves and boils. Sandbars can move and change shape fast, sometimes while you surf; reefs stay the same, waiting for the right swell and wind to switch them on.|
|If the surf is good enough that you want to be out in it then it is a safe bet that there will be several others wanting to do so also. it is important that you know the rules of the road and how to work with other people in the water. First of all you must be gentlemanly, that is treat others as you would like to be treated. All crowds have a pecking order, with the best and fastest-paddling surfers at the top: know your place in this order, and adapt and adjust around it.
Knowing the rules will help avoid accidents and your dropping in on some other surfer. On a breaking wave, the inside surfer (the one closest to the peak of the wave) has the right of way. On a right breaking wave this is anybody to your left. On a left breaking wave it is anybody to your right. If there is a surfer inside you, they have the right of way. Just hold back and pull out of the wave, and let them have the ride. Be sure to hold onto your board at all time. Nothing upsets a group of surfers more than a rogue board flying through the surf with no rider on it. Runaway boards, even while on a leash, tend to hit the surfers behind you in the head.
If you are just learning it is recommended that you DON'T go out with a pack of hot surfers. There's nothing worse than being a beginner stuck with a bunch of good surfers and being chased away because you got in there way.
Be in touch with yourself. Be honest. What are you capable of? All to often you see new surfers just charge out wanting to tackle the world when they are just not ready. Short cuts get you nowhere in surfing; slow and steady always seems to work.
|It is a proven fact that boards will continuously get dropped, banged, hit rocks, fins broken, and many other things that can cause the board to take on water, cut the rider or make the board behave correctly.
The first step, and most important, is to make sure that the board is completely dry. Depending on the amount of water it contains and the humidity of the air it can take as long as a week for a board to dry out. One way to determine if the board is saturated, press down around the ding, if water seeps out then more drying is required. To speed up the process of drying, place a light bulb (no more than 100 watt) about 8 inches above the repair site. Never repair a wet board as this will lead to the board delaminating.
You can repair most rail shatters or fractures by sanding and then placing a coating of resin over the break. Sand the area around the break and mask off the surrounding area with masking tape. Use a coat of sanding resin and paint the area of the break. Pull the tape off after the resin starts to set. Be sure to sand smooth and buff the area (if desired) to complete the repair.