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Falling Safely From Your Surfboard



Wipeouts are almost inevitable in surfing. Discover our tips for falling safely, for yourself and others. We might as well say it right away: avoiding falls ("wipeout") is impossible when surfing! So, it is better to do what is necessary to make them less painful and above all, to ensure that you are always surfing safely. This guide will give you some tips to better master your wipeouts!

This article will cover the following:

1. The Different Types Of Falls
2. Watchout For Wipeouts
3. Falling Safely
4. The Right Reactions To Have During A Wipeout
5. Avoiding Wipeouts
6. Practice Apnea
7. Wear Surf Protection



1. The Different Types Of Falls

In addition to giving you a good fright, a wipeout can be dangerous for you, but also for other surfers.

Knowing how to identify risks will help you adopt the right reflexes when you are in a critical situation. Among the major risks to avoid during a wipeout:

Falling on your equipment

The tail, fins and rails are the most dangerous elements of your surfboard in case of impact. Wear a helmet!

Collision between surfers

If the spot is crowded, pay attention to your surfboard, but also to the other surfers' boards. The risk of impact is very high. Keep your distance!

The washing machine

Depending on the size and power of the waves, you can be thrown underwater and shaken in all directions (that’s the "washing machine"). Stay calm…you will come up eventually!


2. Watchout For Wipeouts

The fall in surfing often comes from a lack of concentration during the take off.
Sometimes when you paddle to catch a wave, when you get up on your board, you are already at the top of the lip, ready to go. The wave may have deepened rapidly and suddenly become very steep, making your take off tricky.

You may have started paddling too late! In this case, it is better to go back to the starting point to avoid damage.
You can easily predict this - analysing the waves of a spot is very important before paddling for a wave. Don't panic: it's by making mistakes that you learn and progress!



3. Falling Safely

You have no chance to escape the wipeout? Dive while you have time!

So, you keep this delicate situation under control, because letting yourself get carried away is never a good idea if you fall while surfing... But then, how to dive?

The surface dive

In a wave with little depth, dive flat, but not head first - you don’t want your head to hit the sea bed!

The deep dive

In an impressive and powerful offshore wave, dive deep to escape the force of the wave and avoid getting too shaken;

The flat jump in the white water

On a rocky or hard bottom, it’s best to fall flat, like a starfish, then remember not to push with your feet to come up to the surface if you touch the bottom.




4. The Right Reactions To Have During A Wipeout

You couldn't avoid the fall? Discover the right reflexes so that your time under water runs smoothly.


  • Protect your head with your hands in case of an impact
  • Hold the leash of your board firmly (without turning around your hand), to keep it close to you if other surfers are nearby. The goal is simple: prevent your board from hitting them (hoping they do the same!)
  • Dive, then swim underwater until the white water has passed
  • Do not panic underwater, even if you are disoriented because of the washing machine! Stay calm and think of something pleasant (your last vacation, baking your favourite pastries...), this will help keep panic at bay and make your breath last longer.
  • Keep your eyes open for better observation. You will see the bottom, the surface or your board
  • Pull your leash and/or look for the light to easily reach the surface.



5. Avoiding Wipeouts

There are a few "prevention" measures that can reduce the risk of falling while surfing. Here are 5 tips to keep in mind, once in the water:


  • Get out of the wave when you see that it will close out on you. Lie on the back of the board while keeping the front out of the water. You will take the white water and slide out of the impact zone.
  • Carefully look at the spot and wave formation before getting into the water.
  • Do not surf waves that are too big for your ability.
  • Get out of the water when you are tired.
  • Stay focused and hydrated to avoid injuries.


6. Practice Apnea

Big wave riders generally follow a specific training in apnea. A wipeout under one of these giants forces them to spend more than 30 seconds underwater!

To be more at ease and more confident during these sometimes-scary moments, taking a few classes and improving your freediving skills can be a real asset. Even for an intermediate surfer.

You might be starting to understand how important it is to know the spot where you are going to surf. Knowing what depth you have under your feet or knowing the seabed will help you to fall better while surfing, without hurting yourself.

Don't panic: falling is part of surfing. It should not discourage you: especially since with this guide, you now know "how" to master your wipeouts!



7. Wear Surf Protection

Whatever your level is, one day or the other we will be all have a bad fall, with sometimes dramatic consequences.
Most of the accidents come from a collision between the surfer and his own board, followed by clashes between surfers (especially when the lineup is crowded), and finally by the type of seabed: sand, rock, coral...

Thankfully, most of the accidents are minor, but those that are serious mostly affect the surfer's head. When you hit your head and lose consciousness in the water, the risk is drowning.

Even if the helmet does not protect against all traumas, there is a real benefit of wearing one to surf safely.


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