Surfing is not a team sport, and generally, people do not like sharing waves with other people. However, most of us prefer participating in sports activities with friends, and surfing is no exception. Let’s look into the pros and cons of surfing alone and see what you would prefer to do.
As a beginner surfer, surfing with friends or at least having some people around you is a safer way of surfing. Surfing carries unexpected risks such as injury to the body or, in the worst case, drowning. Therefore beginner surfers should surf amongst people who can assist them in a serious event.
What are the benefits of surfing with friends/people?
While risks are lower than in many other sports, people have lost their lives while surfing.
Examples of Risks include:
- Losing your board and you need to swim in a rough ocean for 300-400+ metres. Some beginner surfers do not have the skills and stamina to swim long distances, especially when they are already tired from surfing sessions.
- Injury to your shoulder in a rough wipeout, and you may need to paddle to the shore using one arm. I even have met an experienced surfer who has completely torn a rotator cuff ( shoulder muscle) while trying to slow down by putting his hand in the wall of a wave during barrel riding.
- Marine life such as sharks and Jellyfish. Shark attacks are rare, but you want someone around you if it does happen.
- Getting injured or knocked out by your board. Most beginners are unfamiliar with handling a big board, and oceans can be unpredictable. If misplaced or wiped out incorrectly, your board may hit you, causing harm.
- Crashing with someone by dropping in unintentionally. Beginner surfers often have a big blind spot when they paddle for waves. Many things are going on when you try to catch a wave; you have to get your timing, positing and speed right to get the waves. This extra focus and attention may cause tunnel vision. Your friend can call you out if you are about to drop in without realising it.
2. Improve confidence in the line-up
Like it or not, You will need to learn how to negotiate with the crowd if you live in one of the big cities near beaches, especially when the waves are good. By watching how people react and communicate, you can learn how to deal with crowds to improve your confidence in the lineup.
3. Learn from other surfers
Waves come in all different sizes, shapes and timing. Getting the correct positioning and timing of catching the waves is like an art and cannot be taught in the book; you need to do it yourself. Observing good surfers how they position themselves as the wave approaching and their timing of wave catching can teach you a lot.
4. Motivate each other to improve skills
Having friends next to you while surfing can bring the best out of your surfing. Surfers tend to go a little harder and take more risks when they know someone is watching them. Just like anything in life, a little nudge in the right direction can help us achieve bigger things.
5. Get your friend to correct your error
You may use your friend to analyse your surfing and get honest feedback on your padding, timing, popping up, stance and turns. We cannot surf in front of the mirror to monitor the movement; most surfers do not have access to video record their surfing.
Therefore, we do not know how we look when we surf. If you have a friend who can point out a few obvious things that look wrong, you can work on those to take your surfing to the next level.
While it is recommended that beginner surfers surf with other people, once their skill and confidence improve, they will seek places with less crowd and better quality waves. Let’s look what’s the benefit of surfing alone.
What is the benefit of surfing alone?
1. Freedom to choose when and where to surf
Surfing alone gives you the freedom to choose your location and time. People have different preferences when choosing a location and types of waves. For example, more advanced surfers prefer waves with a little punch, whereas beginner surfers are happy with 1-2 foot beach breaks. Even if you are in the same skill level, Goofy and regular footers – different stances on the board – may prefer different spots, even on the same beach.
People have different stamina, and it’s common to see some surfers tire out faster than others, especially when they start surfing. So it’s not unusual for someone to wait on the beach while their friend continues to surf. When you surf alone, you don’t have to worry about him.
2. Complete peace and escape from stress.
Picture yourself paddling out to the empty lineup; the only sound you can hear is the waves breaking near the shore.
Paddling a surfboard and catching and riding waves can be meditation-like activities. It immerses you in simple motion and experience, which is why some people get so addicted to surfing. 2 hours of surfing sessions will turn into the most effortless medication you have ever done while having fun.
3. All waves are yours!
Surfing is a selfish sport. Waves are not for sharing, and we have surfing etiquette to ensure only one person gets on the wave at a time. Of course, this is for safety but also for enjoyment. Most of us ( if not all) do not want to share waves. We all want to have the best wave of the set and the longest ride on the wave.
Fewer people in the lineup mean you have more chances to catch more waves and surf. Increasing wave count is extremely important to improve your surfing, so one can argue that surfing with fewer people is better.
Most experienced surfers dream about riding waves with little to no people in the lineup. Once you have enough skills, stamina and safety awareness, there will be days that you have the confidence and skills to surf in complete empty spots!
While surfing with friends or other people is recommended. At the same time, if you are a beginner, surfing has benefits such as serenity and not worrying about other people dropping in or hassling to take the priority of the wave.