Falling Off a Surfboard Safely 'The Wipe-Out'

Don't be discouraged that you fall off your surfboard. Falling off is a part of surfing, even Kelly Slater falls off sometimes. But the way you fall off your surfboard is very important if you want to avoid serious injury.

Falling towards the bottom, being held under for a long time, not knowing which way is up, broken boards, collisions with other surfers and various injuries, are some of the joys of surfing, but if you don't know what to do it can be very traumatising. Falling off on smaller waves, may not be too bad, but when the waves are big, it's a different story.

As your experience grows, you will know what to expect when paddling towards mountains of whitewater, or falling down the face of a wave.

Here are a few tips about falling off that are not just for beginners, all surfers follow these general rules.

Falling off a Surfboard

  1. Surf within your ability, don't paddle into conditions that you are not ready for, especially big waves that are out of your comfort zone.
  2. Assess the conditions before you paddle out, check for reefs, rocks and any other hazards and get a feel for where is everyone is sitting in the water. Look for the rips and work out where you will swim to, if in trouble.
  3. When falling always try to fall backwards and away from the surfboard, as this ensures the surfboard continues to the beach and is not in the wave behind you to be pushed on top of you. Falling backwards also helps us to fall shallow to avoid crashing into the bottom, as you will be falling onto the wave.
  4. While under water, always put your arms around your head as you don't know where your surfboard is, or you may hit the bottom. We always try to delay coming up quickly, as the surfboard could be still up in the air, ready to come down on your head!
  5. Falling Off A Surfboard
  6. Always put your hand up first when surfacing for the same reasons above, you don't know where your surfboard is and it could be directly above you. The fins are sharp and can leave a nasty gash requiring stitching.
  7. Never Never jump or dive off your board. You don't know when moving along exactly how deep the water is.
  8. Don't panic. Surfers don't drown because of this very important point. When you are getting a workover from the wipe out, just relax, roll around and have fun. The wave will eventually let you go and then you can re-surface. If you fight against the wave, you are just using up oxygen and energy on a fight you will never win.
  9. Never take your eyes off your surfboard until it stops moving, injuries happen when the surfboard continues on the wave and then flicks back over the wave.
falling off a surfboard
Perfect Dismount!!

Short example of why we never jump- Learning the hard way

A student at a surf school caught a small wave into the beach and jumped off his surfboard, not realising how shallow the water was. He fell to the ground in pain and was taken to the hospital to have a surgical operation to mend his broken leg.

Next >>> First Surfing Waves

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