Life is full of surprises, and even riding the tides – and even more so. After all, surfing is an extreme sport, and this, like it or not, implies dangers to health.
In this article, we will talk about what dangers a surfer could face in the ocean.
The purpose of the article is not to scare a novice surfer, but to warn about what dangers you may encounter (but far from the fact that will happen!). And forewarned means forearmed!
If you follow safety precautions and use common sense, then the probability that something bad will happen to you will tend to zero!
Every surfer should be able to swim. Agree that it is unwise to practice water sports in the open ocean without being able to get to the shore without a board on your own.
There is also the possibility of drowning during a wipeout on a large tide or from losing consciousness from being hit by a board.
However, the ability to feel comfortable in the water and be able to swim at depth will greatly reduce the likelihood of a surfer drowning while surfing. And you can also learn to hold your breath for a long time and control yourself under water.
Big tides are one of the most real dangers in surfing. And it’s not hard to see why it’s one of the most real dangers. A huge wave (we are talking about really big waves) has incredible energy.
It is almost impossible to pierce such a wave. And if a surfer got into a collapse zone, then the consequences can be sad.
In this case, the tide might break bones or hit the bottom hard, or it may keep the surfer under water for a very long time.
If you are not ready to conquer big tides, try to ride in conditions that suit your level. And if you are standing on the shore and do not understand the real size of the wave, then it is better to ask experienced surfers for advice.
Sharks live in the ocean, man lives on earth. When a surfer swims into the ocean, he is encroaching on shark territory.
In fact, the chance of being attacked by a shark is incredibly low. However, if a surfer regularly surfs in a region where sharks are active, he is always at risk.
Every year, tens and hundreds of people drown, falling into different currents near the ocean. And this dangers are much more real than a shark attack.
Reverse currents never carry you to the bottom.
Their dangers lie in the fact that if a person does not know that he has hit the current, then he can spend all his strength trying to swim to the shore unsuccessfully.
To successfully swim out of the current, you must first allow yourself to be dragged into the depths.
The reverse currents do not carry you far. They tend to slow down or dissipate just behind the area where the waves break.
When the current slows down, you may begin to swim perpendicular to its direction towards the waves with foam. In those places, the water, on the contrary, tends towards the coast.
The waves will help you get to shallow water.
If you ever find yourself in such a course, the main thing is to keep your sanity and not to panic. Don’t waste energy, sit on the board, relax, and figure out where to swim to get out of the tide.
If you still can’t get out, then you should ask for help from the shore, waving your arms above your head.
The vast majority of surfers ride the waves on finned boards. And these things are perhaps the biggest dangers to the surfer.
A bad wipeout, a sloppy wave ride, an inept dike dive, a close-out section or a torn leash can turn a surfer’s equipment into a powerful weapon. Fins and a pointed nose might cut the body, and a leash may get tangled around the surfer.
To reduce the danger, try to cover your head and face with your hands when falling into the water. And if the leash is wrapped around some part of your body, try to unwind it as quickly as possible before a new wave comes.
Localism is a phenomenon where surfers who were born in a country or area of a surf spot consider themselves to be in charge of the lineup, taking most of the waves.
Sometimes locales are adequate, they enforce the rules. But, sometimes, there are also aggressive comrades.
There are actually quite a few good waves. And that’s why some surfers, sometimes almost splashing saliva, try to snatch as many waves as possible.
And if these surfers are locals, and a visiting surfer accidentally (or not so much) drops them, then this can become a big problem.
So, look around, follow the rules and respect the locales. Even if they are wrong…
On a surf spot, certain rules apply, which are called surf etiquette. Those who don’t know these rules or intentionally don’t follow them can ruin the perfect surf session in no time.
Novice surfers, especially those who have learned on their own, rarely know the rules. And if they do, then the rules often simply fly out of my head.
Therefore, it is not uncommon for such a surfer to drop another on the wave, creating a dangerous situation.
The same can be said for surfers who simply don’t care about the rules.
Try to identify these characters on the lineup in advance and stay away from them.
Riding in cold water is a test for the hardest-spirited surfers. Naturally, one cannot do without protection from the cold.
In cold water surfers use thick wetsuits (including boots, gloves and a hood), which allow them to stay warm for quite some time.
Hypothermia begins when the body temperature begins to drop below normal. If it falls below 35°, it can be deadly!
So, if you start to get cold, then you should not continue to ride until you drop. Better go ashore and keep warm. For example, pour warm water over the collar, or end the session altogether.
When you are alone on a lineup, it may seem to you that there is no one around. However, it is not.
We have many different ocean creatures under our feet. Starting from fish and shellfish, ending with sea urchins and jellyfish.
The most dangerous animals are stinging jellyfish (for example, the Portuguese boat), stonefish, blue-ringed octopuses, sea urchins and sea snakes.
Some of them hide in shallow water, have excellent camouflage and strong poison. So, try to be very careful when walking barefoot on the reef, preferably making it noisy (this will scare away the snakes).
In case of a bite, seek medical attention immediately, as some types of poison can be deadly.
Pollution of coastal waters is one of the most pressing environmental problems today.
Industrial effluents, pesticides, chemicals, sewage, oil leaks, plastic and municipal waste pollution – this is not a complete list of what might be in the water, especially on spots near a large city.
Try not to ride after rain, especially at river mouths. If you did go surfing in dirty water, then in no case swallow it!
The bottom on reef spots is a potential hazard because there is always a chance to hit it. The bottom with live coral or rocks overgrown with shells is especially dangerous.
Also, separate large stones that are in the path of the surfer can pose certain dangers. They may not be visible initially, but when a larger wave comes up, they may appear in all their glory.
If this is your first time to the spot, first of all ask other surfers if there are any hazards in the water worth knowing about.
Also, try not to ride the reef spot alone, so that in case of something there is a person who could come to the rescue.
And, of course, when falling, remember that the bottom is stone. Cover your head with your hands, do not put your hands forward, and if you do, then clench your fingers into a fist.
Ideally, you should fall flat on your back into the water, this will allow you to dive to the minimum depth. After kneading, when climbing on the board, do not make unnecessary movements with your feet, as you can accidentally hit the reef.
In general, when riding on a reef spot, you need to be prepared for the possibility of being scratched. On spots where you have to enter the water along the reef, scratches can be avoided only by using reef slippers.
The sun is perhaps the surfer’s most underrated enemy. Especially in the tropics.
If you ride after 9 am, try to cover your skin from the sun as much as possible. Wear lycra or at least a T-shirt. Use powerful creams (preferably non-marine) and surf zinc to protect exposed skin and face.
No matter how resistant your skin is to burning, remember that skin cancer is not just a doctor’s scare!
At a minimum, the sun dramatically accelerates skin aging, making it wrinkled and dry – which can be a problem, especially if you’re a girl!
The sun can also damage your eyes. So if you like to ride at noon, take care of a cap or panama hat.
A hat will help protect your eyes from burnout and, in the long term, will save you from pterygium.
That’s probably all there is to tell. Do not be afraid of everything described above. After all, as already mentioned, if you follow all the precautions, everything will be fine with you!