July 4, 2022

Catch the Wave: Avoiding Dangers When Surfing

Surfing is a sport for the strong, courageous and reckless

But even if you consider yourself an experienced athlete, do not forget that the ocean is a dynamic element, and anything can happen when you practice.

Andrey “Dolphin” Ovchinnikov, one of the first Russian surfers on enormous waves to conquer the 20-meter wave, will tell you how to avoid the unpleasant consequences of surfing and get the most out of riding.

“I started dreaming about connecting my life with surfing at the age of 14, when I watched the film “Wave of Passion”- it tells about three surfers who travel the world in search of big waves,” says Andrey. – It struck me a lot: I decided that one day I would become a surfer and ride big waves, like in the movies.

I was moving towards my dream gradually. First, I went to work at the dolphinarium to bring me closer to the water. I got my nickname “Dolphin” because I trained marine mammals.

My first so-called surfing experience was riding a dolphin during a show. Later, in 2006, I went to Morocco to windsurf (board with a sail), and there I already discovered classic surfing.

It can be said that it provoked me even more. So, four years later, I decided to quit my job, go to Bali and go surfing – surfing the waves.

Since then, I have been doing this every day, expanding my boundaries, improving, and conquering new heights in more challenging conditions

Later, my friend Andrei Karr and I decided to create the Monster Wave project and go to Nazaré, Portugal, in 2016. We found sponsors and went there.

This place is interesting because the largest waves sometimes reach thirty meters. And we joined the race for the world record.

We managed to become the first Russians to get into the World Surf League nomination and ride on waves of about 20 meters.

Surfing: what kind of sport is it and who is it for

It is important to remember that surfing is one of the most demanding sports

Unfortunately, in Russia, surfing as a sport is only developing. The difference in the level of training becomes visible in world competitions.

But surfing is slowly being popularized in our country, contributing to this. I chose the direction of big wave surfing. It does not require any unique riding technique.

Here recklessness and courage are more important because this direction of surfing is more extreme than the rest.

Anyone can surf. As Duke Kahanamoku, two-time Olympic swimming champion in 1920, said, “The real surfer is the one who gets the most fun out of the ocean.”

Therefore, the main thing here is desire, and everyone can make something of their own from this sport.

The person who deals with it must have patience. He needs to train a lot to learn how to perform some tricks.

It is essential to be in good physical shape because you will have to row a lot.
The ability to swim is also necessary, although this is not a hindrance to surfing – you can learn during the learning process

Surfing can help you overcome various fears, become more courageous, develop balance and a sense of control over your body, help you understand the ocean, get in good physical shape because it allows you to work with different muscle groups.

In addition, it can solve problems with back pain and even prevent hernias.

Becoming a pro in this sport is not easy. An experienced surfer is not just someone who has been skating well for a long time.

The surfer can not just ride the wave, but perform some tricks, show something interesting in technique, and catch big waves.

Anyone who can understand and feel the ocean, and has come somewhere to ride, can immediately assess the situation, choose the correct position, predict different problems by waves, currents and go for a ride regardless of the conditions.

But this is precisely what it takes to practice and diligence, which will bring the necessary experience.

Remember that surfing is a pretty traumatic sport

Even if you follow all the rules, you can find bruises, abrasions, cuts, cuts, and sprains on the body after riding.

Less often, there are fractures if, for example, it is unsuccessful in jumping off the board or stumbling upon the board with an edge. So be strong in spirit and ready for it.

Where to surf

Surfing is better where it is warm and safe – these are places such as Bali, Sri Lanka, Hawaii, Indonesia, the Philippines, the Caribbean.

The most optimal water temperature for skiing is 26-29 degrees.

Photo from the personal archive of Andrey Ovchinnikov

Things to remember before riding

Before you go surfing, you should immediately pay attention to your health

If you feel unwell, have a headache, or have a stomach ache, it is better to give up and wait.

Firstly, it will interfere with the process: stomach pain can cause discomfort lying down on the board, and headaches interfere with exercise or tricks.

And secondly, it can only aggravate the situation.

If you feel okay, you need to take all the essentials: first of all, a board, shorts or wetsuit (depending on the weather and water temperature), wax for the board, and sunscreen, especially if you go skating during the day.

Also, if there is shallow water and reefs in that place, you can wear special slippers not to injure your feet.

Also, look at the weather

Too bright sun is not the best time to practice. It is necessary that in the sky, there are at least some clouds or clouds that block the sun at least a little.

Otherwise, you can get sunstroke or a burn, from which you will have to recover for a long time. Also, it would help if you didn’t go for a drive in a thunderstorm.

While on the water, you will be the highest point on the surface. Lightning can hit you in a million chances, but this also happens.

There was such a case in Bali last year. Therefore, if you see the onset of a thunderstorm or have already begun, it is better to refrain from skating.

The sun shouldn’t be too hot; there is no wind, the water’s surface is smooth – this kind of weather can be found in the early morning or a few hours before sunset.

This time of day will be ideal for skiing.

The dangers of surfing

It is believed that the size of the waves can be an obstacle when surfing

If you, like me, do big wave surfing or just like extreme sports, this will only bring more pleasure from riding. But not everyone likes extreme conditions.

Therefore, too large waves can stop you.

  • If you are faced with a giant wave, do not panic.

Being directly “under the collapse” of the wave, in the most dangerous place, you need to try to dive deeper as quickly as possible so that this mass of water, which is comparable to a whole truck, does not overtake you.

If you are not in a place where the wave hits you directly, try to jump away from the board, cover your head with your hands and relax.

Don’t strain yourself; try to think of something pleasant: don’t waste oxygen, wait out the wave, and swim to the surface.

  • The relief plays a vital role in skiing.

Beware of large rocks, especially when the wave passes near it – you can fall and get damaged.

Also, not everyone will be able to ride where there are reefs and shallow ones – there is a danger of being scratched or getting a more severe injury.

Therefore, when riding in shallow water, you need to understand all the risks and be prepared for them.

  • Other surfers are another common hindrance to riding.

They can also cause injury. Finding a place where no one skates are pretty problematic, so you will most likely have to practice where other surfers will be.

Riding in a crowd is hard enough

First, there is competition among surfers – there will always be people who skate better than you and want to demonstrate it.

Second, there are many chances of collision or damage. Surfboards themselves are not so heavy, but they turn into a kind of rockets at speed.

And if a person does not have time to jump or somehow dodge, you can get a severe bruise or a severe cut. Therefore, we advise novice surfers to ride on soft boards.

  • It is also dangerous to cut other surfers – you can get it in return.

In addition, in the surfing world, there is such a concept of “localism,” according to which local athletes must be respected: they cannot be cut off; you must give them a wave.

Moreover, it is not always possible to ride for someone other than the locals: such places are designated as “Locals only.” For breaking this rule, you can also seriously suffer.

  • Marine life can be difficult.
It is especially true for large shark species

The shark itself does not eat people, it feeds on large species of mammals, but it can also attack humans.

Most sharks live in Australia, South Africa, Hawaii, and where there is a rookery of fur seals or large mammals. These places should be avoided to keep yourself safe while surfing.

However, this does not stop some people. Once there was a case at the World Championships in South Africa when one of the participants was attacked by a shark.

Fortunately, he was not injured – the shark caught on the cable connecting the surfer and the board.

The athlete tried to brush her off, and when the danger had passed, he lay down on the board and hastened to swim away.

Therefore, if in the area where you are going to go into the water, there is a chance to meet a giant shark, it is better to refrain from riding.

In addition to sharks, jellyfish can be dangerous. The most poisonous species of it is the sea wasp.

It contains so many poisons and toxins that he will quickly die if it stings a person. These species are mainly found in Australia.

Sea snakes can also be encountered while surfing. They are pretty poisonous but less dangerous, and sometimes they can also pose a threat, for example, if you step on them.

Basic safety rules every surfer needs to know

As with any sport, surfing also has specific safety rules. The ocean is a serious element that is subject to constant change.

Follow simple directions to avoid unpleasant situations, injuries, or more severe consequences.

  • choose suitable conditions for yourself, soberly assessing your level of skiing and paying attention to the weather;
  •  a warm-up before class – stretch your muscles to tone them;
  •  check the equipment before entering the water;
  •  in the bright sun, wear a T-shirt or cover yourself with sunscreen so as not to get sunburn;
  • Drink plenty of water, because surfing takes a lot of energy and increases sweating;
  • when entering the water, do not hold the board in front of you;
  • do not swim after another surfer so that the person or his board is not washed away on you;
  • when swimming, choose a free window or corridor so as not to be under other people;
  • when jumping or falling from the board, try to jump away from it, assessing the depth at which you are;
  • try to avoid being in the wave breaking zone;
  • communicate with other surfers and avoid conflict situations on the water;
  •  after you finish skating, cool down to restore your muscles quickly.

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