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Top Tips on how to use your Wooden surfboard or Bellyboard

The first steps....

First find a beach with wide stretches of level sand and clean breaking waves preferably free from pebbles, rocks and obstructions. There needs to be some ‘life’ in the waves. Don’t waste your time with a wooden Bellyboard in a calm sea - you're better going for a swim or relaxing on the beach or getting yourself a pasty in the local cafe. Conditions can vary enormously but the surf is often at its best on an incoming tide. In the height of summer avoid the busiest times of day if you can. Watch out for other surfers!!


How to start....


If you’ve never used a wooden surfboard or bellyboard before – oddly enough one of the best ways to learn is to try to catch and surf a wave without a board!

I also recommend that, to begin with, you only go out waist high in the water and get your timing right before you attempt the bigger waves. More experienced surfers can don flippers and join the “pro” surfers out the back.


Holding your wooden surfboard or bellyboard....


Sounds daft but to avoid a major nose dive make sure you hold it with the curve facing upwards! Most people hold their board just back from the curve, but it’s a personal thing - just hold it where it feels most comfortable.

You need to think of your board as a part of yourself and then yourself as a part of the wave (it’s not as “Zen” as it sounds). It’s also important that you hold your board tightly against your body before you ‘take-off’.


The Take off....


The crucial moment has arrived! Belly-board timing is more critical than with a foam boogie board. The art is to time your take-off for when the wave is just about to break directly behind you. Some people say you need to launch off just as the wave is about to hit your backside! You need to get yourself into a position where you can get yourself flat to the board as quickly and easily as you can at the same time as you launch into the wave.


It's also important to select your wave carefully - don’t just catch the first wave that comes along - take a good look out to sea and study the waves in the distance (see my “Anatomy of a Wave” in the Grampy Teds pack-up). Always try to keep full control of your board and to avoid a collision also be aware of fellow surfers amongst the waves(can’t stress that one enough!).


By leaning the board very slightly to your left or right you’ll find that you can change direction without losing speed (watch out for other surfers!). The bonus with a “Grampy Teds” is that, due to a greater flexibility in the board, you can ride the leading edge of the wave, or “wall” and you can catch waves that some of the thicker gauge boards can’t ride. This gives you the ability to ride faster than the breaking wave, in smoother water instead of the “foam” giving you a longer and speedier ride (watch out for other surfers!). A little bit of practise and even the least practised of “Belly-boarders” can be surfing a wave in less time than it takes to wade back out to the breakers.



Safety advice....


You'll find excellent safety advice on Royal National Lifeboat Institute's website with links to surf forecasts and beach guides.



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