Helpful Tips

Helpful Tips - Blog Archives

August 6th, 2009

Learn to Surf: Hang Ten

There’s nothing like gettin’ your toes-to-the-nose when you’re out for a laid back longboard session. This video should get you pumped for some hang-ten action! I know I’m stoked…

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January 25th, 2009

Learn To Surf: Top 5 Tips

Keep these tips in mind while you’re learning to surf and you’ll be shredding it up sooner then you ever imagined!

Tip #1: Have the Right Gear

Make sure you have the right surfboard and and a properly fitting  wetsuit (or trunks) when you are first learning to surf. Even though the Pro’s on TV and in surf movies almost always ride short boards (generally anywhere from 5’6″ – 7’0″), there is nothing worse than trying to learn to surf  on a board that is too small.

For adults learning to surf, a good board size is a minimum of 8’6 and up to 10′. Once you get comfortable riding a longboard, you can gradually move down in size if your goal is to ride a shorter board… but you will only frustrate yourself if you try to learn on one!

It’s also important to where a wetsuit that fits properly (if one is required). A suit that is too big will rub uncomfortably and can cause nasty rashes and even bleeding; not to mention, it will make it much harder for you to paddle and stand up!

A wetsuit should fit tightly and if in doubt, it’s better to have one a little too small than too big (it will keep you warmer too).

Tip #2: Paddling Technique

Paddling is the most important skill in surfing! If you can’t paddle your surfboard well you won’t be able to catch waves, and you’ll get tired quickly. Your “paddling muscles” — think shoulders, arms, and back —  take time to get strong just like all the other muscles in your body.

While you are still learning to surf, you should make a habit of doing a paddle warm up every time you get in the water.

Practice by paddling out past the lineup and going around a nearby buoy or just paddling up and down the beach when it’s flat. Good technique while paddling is also important; try to paddle so that your hands reach far out in front of you and stay close to the rails of your board, digging down deep into the water with each stroke. In surfing, it’s not about how fast you paddle but how much energy you get out of each stroke.

Tip #3: Arch Your Back

When surfing, form is key. Both when you are paddling and catching waves, arching your back will make sure that your weight is properly distributed on your board. It will help you avoid tiring but common occurrences when you are trying to learn to surf, such as the “nose dive.”

By keeping your head up you’ll also be able to spot potential waves more easily. The sign of an experienced surfer is that they keep there head up and back arched while paddling —  the most common thing you’ll hear a Surf Camp counselor yelling while at surf camp is “arch your back!”

Tip #4: Hand Placement

This tip goes hand-in-hand with Tip #3. While you learn to surf, your impulse will be to grab the rails of your surfboard when you “pop up” to get to your feet… but don’t do it! By grabbing your rails you throw off the balance of your surfboard instead of allowing it to plane evenly over the surface of the water.

When you are about to pop up (and arching your back — see Tip #3!), you should place your hands on top of the deck of the board next to your shoulders.

Remember this tip along with Tip #3 while you’re in the water and you’ll find yourself catching — and making — a lot more waves!

Tip #5: Go Knee-Less

Everyone is guilty of this at first… standing up on your board using your knees (or knee). By using your knees when you pop up you make yourself more off balance and also throw off the balance of your surfboard.

This common mistake also adds a clumsy step right in the middle of the most crucial part of your take off. This step takes practice, but if you keep trying to go straight to your feet without using your knees it will quickly become a habit and take your surfing to the next level.

If you have to use your knee at first (we all did) that’s O.K., but don’t make it a habit! This is actually one of the easiest parts of surfing to practice because you can do it on dry land. Just draw yourself a surfboard in the sand and give it a go!

Use your arms to push your upper-body off the ground (and arch your back), and in one fluid motion try to hop to your feet just like you are on a board — it’s sort of like trying to do the worm!

If you get this down though, it will open up a whole new realm of surfing and you’ll be able to take off on faster and bigger waves.

Learning to surf, example of a good Pop Up

Here’s a good example of tips 3, 4, and 5 all put together to form a perfect pop-up

Just remember, these things may not (and probably will not) be easy at first, but as long as you practice the right techniques you’ll be on your way to becoming the next Kelly Slater (or at least a better surfer…).

Get in the water with a friend so you can remind each other of these simple surfing tips while you’re learning.

What’s the next step to surfing success? The experienced surfers at Surf Camp who wrote these easy tips have a lot more to teach you when you come to Surf Camp or sign up for a private or group Surf Lesson.

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January 23rd, 2009

Frequently Asked Questions

How hard is it to learn to Surf?

Over nearly a decade of teaching kids and adults of all ages, shapes, and sizes how to surf, we’ve learned something about surfing: anyone can learn to surf! Usually we have most kids standing up and riding waves by the end of their first day, and by the end of the week everyone is riding waves on their own!

Just like any sport, surfing takes practice! Unlike many other sports though, surfing is something that an individual can carry with them throughout their entire life. In surfing, everyone is always learning. The ocean is a constantly changing phenomenon which means surfers are always adapting to ever-changing conditions.

Do people really surf in Maine?!

Yes! Can you believe it? Maine has a large and dynamic surf community composed of dedicated surfers who surf not just in the summer, but throughout the fall and winter seasons.

Scarborough Beach, located on scenic Prouts Neck in Scarborough, Maine is a perfect place to learn to surf in the summer. Despite the fact that on TV and in the movies surfing is all about big waves and crazy tricks, the reality is that learning to surf is much easier in the friendly environment that Scarborough Beach provides.

In an average week we have a great variety of waves to help our campers learn in all conditions. Smaller waves to learn the basics of paddling and the “pop-up,” and as the week goes on our campers get the opportunity to practice their new surf skills in bigger waves.

The other great thing about learning to surf in Maine is the weather… A Maine beach really is the best place to spend time in the summer! Even though we encourage our campers to use wetsuits, they usually love the chance to take them off and head into the warm water in just their board shorts. With miles of soft sandy beach, there is lots of room for the whole camp to spread out and catch waves!

I’ve taken a lesson before or have prior surf experience… what will I learn at Surf Camp?

Surfing is a sport that many people carry with them until the day they die. There is always more to learn! Our staff of surf instructors are some of the most experienced and talented surfers in the region. With expertise from exotic surf destinations all over the world, we can provide advanced surf instruction, including working on maneuvers such as airs, cutbacks, nose rides, and snaps, to surfers of all experience levels.

It is also not uncommon for us to get some pretty great surf during a typical week! We’re often in the water with surfers getting the rides of their life in clean and beautiful surf conditions.

What should I bring to Surf Camp?

You should plan to bring the following every day to camp:

  • Beach towel
  • Warm sweatshirt
  • Sunscreen
  • Good Lunch!
  • Sandals
  • Sunglasses
  • Backpack/bag
  • Long pants & Socks for rainy days

You may also bring a rash guard or your own wetsuit (if you have either), an extra t-shirt/shorts, or other beach toys/games/equipment that you might want to use. You may bring your own surfboard, but generally if it does not have soft fins (such as the rubber Pro-Teck fins we use) we won’t let you use it with camp. Some campers also like to bring their Skim Boards!

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