The pros may make it look easy, but with wetsuits, boards and leashes to contend with, surfing offers newbies plenty of opportunities to mess up. And that’s before you even get in the water and attempt to catch a wave.
Luckily though, help is at hand. From repairing your wetsuit on the go to removing residue wax from your board, we’ve got nine clever little tips and tricks that will help solve your surfing dilemmas. So read on before you next head out into the sea…
1. The bag trick
Sometimes it feels like the hardest part of surfing is getting the wetsuit on – especially if the neoprene isn’t bone dry. But if you’ve got a plastic bag lying around, things are looking up. Just place the bag over each foot as you pull your suit on, and you’ll slide in much more easily and faster, too.
2. Invest in a Robie
Getting in and out of your wetsuit while standing in a cold car park is unglamorous at the best of times. Ensure you keep your decency intact by using a changing robe, like a Robie. Made from towel material so you can simultaneously dry off, they have revolutionised that awkward situation of getting changed in public. Frankly, no surfer should be without one.
3. Stand in a bucket
A simple one, but super handy. Stand inside a plastic tub when you’re taking your wetsuit off. Not only does it protect your feet from stones and stop your car getting wet and sandy from your wetsuit, it also magically transforms into a washing tub afterwards – so you can rinse corrosive salt water out of your suit.
4. Dry your booties with old newspaper
Soggy booties are both tricky to put on and can smell funky. Unlike a wetsuit, you can’t turn them inside out to take the moisture out of them. Dry them out fast between surfs by stuffing them with old newspaper – the paper absorbs the water. Just don't forget to rinse them with fresh water and leave to drip dry first.
5. Turn an old detergent bottle into a DIY shower
Recycle your old laundry detergent bottle by transforming it into a homemade shower. Simply prick holes in the lid and fill the bottle with warm water before you leave your house. Wrap it in your Robie to keep it warm (this will also mean your Robie will be toastie when you get back) – and it will work as your very own post-surf shower.
6. Fill a pair of old tights with flour for a cheap wax remover
Removing surf wax from your board is a chore – but it has to be done so you can reapply a fresh coat to improve grip. Scrape off what you can with a wax scraper or old credit card first. Then fill an old pair of tights with flour and tie a knot to make it into a potato-sized sack that you can use to scrub away the excess from your board. It’s a cheap and easy way to remove the sticky stuff before a new wax job.
7. Stretch out leash kinks
It may seem convenient, but wrapping your leash around your board just above the fins will actually put kinks in your leash – and may cause it to get coiled around your leg while you’re surfing or even snap when you wipe out. Not only is this annoying, it can also be pretty dangerous. Instead, leave the leash free when you store your board. If it’s already got kinks in it, stretch the leash taught by hanging it for a few days with a light weight attached to the end. While we’re on the subject of leashes, don’t forget to hold yours in your hand once it’s around your foot so you don’t trip up over it walking down the beach.
8. Pack duct tape for emergency repairs
Duct tape is great to keep in your car for surf sessions. It can be used as a temporary ding repair if you’ve knocked your board (try to make sure the tape isn’t trapping water before you patch it up), and also for minor skin cuts or wetsuit tears.
9. Don’t dry your wetsuit on a regular hanger, or in the sun
Drying your wetsuit on a regular hanger can stretch the shoulders and wear away the neoprene, reducing the life of your suit. Instead, hang it over a wide hanger or on a specially-designed wetsuit hanger like this one from Finisterre, which helps prevent mis-shape. And, however tempting, don’t dry your wetsuit in direct sunlight – sun is the neoprene’s worst enemy and will cause it to lose its flexibility and destroy the glue in the seams.