Surfing in a new spot // How to

Monday, July 6, 2015
The time of road trips and surf vacations has come! And we dream of unknown places to discover and new waves to be surfed...
Living in a touristic place, during summer I see crowds of surfers from all over Europe overpopulate the local spot. For most of them it is their first time there and they don't really know how to behave in this new spot.
No need to say they can easily become a danger for themselves and for all the other surfers, and surfing is no fun anymore.

That's why I decided to write a list of points we should always pay attention to every time we visit a new spot.

Always check the forecasts
This is the basics, but I understand it is easy to get in the flow and not to really pay too much attention to the surf forecasts. We are so excited to visit a new spot that we don't always check if the waves' height is good for our level or if the winds are hitting heavily on the spot.
If we don't want to get bad surprises, we can visit our favorite surf report website and the plenty of webcams of the chosen spot.

Never underestimate the tidal coefficient
This is something I happened to do and totally regret! Some spots work better with high tide, some others not. Some beach-breaks hide rocks here and there with low tide, some others become inaccessible with high tide. Bottom line: never underestimate the tidal coefficient if you don't want bad situations to happen (you can read my experience with high tide here).
But what is a tidal coefficient? The tidal coefficient tells us the amplitude of the tide, which means the difference in height between the higher sea level and the succeeding low sea level.

Ask the locals
Don't be shy! Localism is a common phenomenon in the spots around the world. But trust me, local surfers want to have fun as much as you do and will be more than happy to give you all the info you need to get the most from your session, in total safety and respect of the rules.
You want to ask them when the spot works best, where the channels form and all the practical information you need before waxing your board and paddle out. If you prefer surf shops and lifeguards can also answer all of your questions (and this is also part of their job).

Do not trust desert spots
An amazing wave peeling all along the coastline right to the beach. Nobody out there, just silence and a peace feeling around you.... If you're not in a remote exotic island at the other side of the world, you better not trust that quietness. If there is an amazing wave ready to be surfed, you bet you'll find some locals already paddling to the line-up. If not, maybe something's hidden behind that beauty - sharp coral reef, strong currents or even sea life dangers... Again, we don't want to get into bad situations.

Paddle with the elders
This is something I learnt here in France. Some spots have historic background and many locals have lived the golden era of surfing. Which means they've been surfing here for more than 30 years! They know their spot by heart and move along the line-up seeing the sets coming before anybody else. They position themselves in order to catch the most of the waves with the less effort.
If you're in a new spot and don't really know the best place to position yourself or where the most powerful waves break, have a look at the most experienced in the line-up.

I hope these tips will be useful and help you get the most fun of your surf experience.
Please, don't hesitate to share your experience or to add some more tips!

Have a great session everyone!

Credits // Author // Photography: Marta Tomasini

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