posted by JM
When I first started surfing it was in japan during the beginning of a typhoon swell... it was high tide and there was an overhead shorebreak coming at full speed... I had no wax on my board and I had a 5 foot leash...
Catastrophic experience... the only time I made it out behind the shorebreak I went for it and got catapulted and slammed.... to add to injury my board speared me in the rib cage....
2 days later I tried again and saw a surfer who told me I needed some wax... I wasnt sure what it was but quickly realised it could have made it easier the first time.
Later in my life I lived on the north-shore of Oahu and learned to surf at haleiwa, sunset and waimea and completely forgot how hard it is for a beginner... as a result I took some beginner friends of mine to the north-shore. First venue, 3 to 5 foot Haleiwa: My friend went over the falls trying to go over a 5 foot wave on an borrowed 8'0''. He came out with a huge gapping cut on his chick, chest and leg and basically collapsed on the beach after the life guard told him it looked bad!! ( Smart lifeguard btw.)
Another time I took a Singaporian friend to Pinballs, with some of the bigger sets breaking on the outside boil where small waimea starts to break. I thought it would be a good place to give surfing a try due to the lake-like nature of the bay when the swell is below 10 foot.
Another unforgetable experience for my poor friend... He was sitting in the line up not really knowing what was going on.. I was paddling back out and a big set starting to loom outside... As I was paddling in the channel passed my friend who was waiting to be hammered in front of the soon to become impact zone, I realised I should have given him some basic instructions before paddling out...
What I saw almost made me laugh... I saw him sitting on the board and pinching his nose with his hand, as if that was going to help him dodge 10 foot of exploding white water... I'm not sure how he didn't get hurt, but when I went to rescue him in the white water, the board was gone and he was barrely able to scream for help... I gave him a lift on my 8'0'' and asked him if he was alright... his response: "No I'm not alright!!"
That was the last time both of my friends ever tried themselves on a surfboard again... The sport of God they must have thought... Oh well, one of them found solace in base jumping and the other in riding his Harley D.
So my suggestions to beginner surfer: Don't follow blindly a good surfer cause they may not know how to relate to a beginner surfer anymore. Also make sure you check the surf forecast and know what's coming. And finally, learn to swim, paddle and ditch your board away from you.
I think it was summer 1997 or 96, the south shore of Oahu saw the biggest swell in 20years... I surfed Waikiki with 10 foot sets breaking way out, and the same day, another Singaporian friend of mine, a beginner sponger, disappeared around Canoes... no one ever saw him again and it was the only reported death during this swell... So beginners, you are more likely to get injured or to drawn if you don't know what you're doing.
Also if you're up for a trip to france and to learn safely check out uturnsurf camp in hossegor.. ( http://www.uturnsurf.com
) a friend of mine, ex pro surfer runs the place and is a good teacher. He can teach you about the currents, and warn you about everything you need to know at each surfing venue. Also if you need a forecast emailed to you on your mobile phone you'll find this free service on their site. It helps when you\'re in the middle of nowhere and cant get internet... and need to know whats coming your way.