Category Archives: Recent

Wetsuits make the world go ’round.

Wetsuits are an essential piece of equipment for any surfer in the southern California area as our waters are subject to seasonal temperature change. Summer months can often bring water temps that exceed 70 degrees that do not require the use of a wetsuit. However the Humboldt Current that flows from Peru to our California coast brings frigid waters and surfing in 55-degree water more often than not requires the use of a wetsuit.

Wetsuits are comprised of neoprene, which is a synthetic rubber that is produced by the polymerization of chloroprene. It gives surfers the opportunity to stay in cold water longer than they normally would without the use of a wetsuit. Today’s wetsuits are made from a super stretchy neoprene that gives a surfer more range of motion and flexibility than wetsuits of old. Older wetsuits tend to be stiffer and thus paddling, popping up, and range of motion in the suit are made more difficult.

The thickness of the wetsuit is also crucial in determining the amount of warmth the suit will have while in the water. A 3.2-millimeter suit is the standard wetsuit for California waters as it has the baseline ability to keep you warm in water as low as 55 degrees. If you have less body fat or are susceptible to cold a 4.3-millimeter suit is more appropriate for colder water. At Learn To Surf we have both 3.2 and 4.3 millimeter suits in stock as water temperatures can change with little notice.

The brand of wetsuit is also essential as there are a lot of options to choose from when using a wetsuit. I have been surfing all my life and have used every major wetsuit brand there is on the market. Some wetsuit makers have styles that fit certain body types better and others more importantly craft a better wetsuit that will ultimately last and keep one warm. I have found in my experience that Rip Curl makes the best wetsuit on the market today as the quality and durability exceeds all its competitors. Their wetsuits dry faster and have a high quality neoprene that keeps one warmer in the water. There are a lot of options out there, but I personally recommend using them above all others. If you are interested in learning more check out http://www.ripcurl.com/us/shop/categories/wetsuits/ and we only use this brand here at Learn To Surf.

Our surf instructor Shane stoked on the use of a wetsuit.
Our surf instructor Shane stoked on the use of a wetsuit.

Want to surf? Turn up the volume!

For a long time surfers were consistently taught that the length of ones surfboard was the most essential component on how difficult it was to surf. The shorter the board the more challenging it was perceived to ride a wave. Subsequently people bought bigger boards to make it easier for them to stand up on and learn to surf. However the trend in recent years has started to evolve to a shorter board that has more volume. Volume of a surfboard is determined by the length, width, and thickness of the board and then this number is used to determine the volume in liters the surfboard contains. Thus a surfboard with a large amount of volume will have a higher amount of flotation ratio in the board making it easier to paddle into waves and ultimately ride them.

When first learning to surf volume will be your most trusted friend out in the water because it allows you to paddle faster, stand up easier, and develop more confidence. Some surf schools use boards that do not have the appropriate amount of volume for first time surfers. A grown man using an 8 foot Costco bought soft top board will struggle compared to an elementary school aged child on the same board. However this strategy of putting everyone on the same board and have them try to learn to surf is exactly what the majority of surf schools employ. Others will put people on larger 10-foot surfboards that still do not have the volume needed to float a first time surfer because the width and thickness of the board is still lacking.

The thing we do differently here at Learn To Surf is we are all about the individual experience. We want to make sure we know your height, weight, age, and skill level so we can ascertain what surfboard is appropriate for you. We use custom made soft-top surfboards that have more volume than your average camp doing surf lessons. There are surfboards in our quiver that are only 7 feet long that still have more volume than a 10 foot board you will find at one of our competitors. Learn To Surf also has the “big boy” boards that are in the 10 foot range that are capable of floating a man close to 300 pounds. It is quite a discouraging experience to show up for a surf lesson and be put on the same board as a kid only to struggle and give up the sport. Our goal is to build muscle memory and confidence while you are experiencing your first surf lesson. That can only be done if you have the appropriate equipment that will allow you to paddle comfortably and keep you afloat. So come down and see why we give the best surf lessons in both Huntington Beach and Newport Beach there is no shortage of volume and smiles at Learn To Surf.

Every surfer needs volume to make their first lesson a success.
Every surfer needs volume to make their first lesson a success.

Fall Surfing in Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach goes through a transformation after Labor Day as the crowds start going home. The beaches revert to a more tranquil state where only a few surfers, bicyclists, and joggers now occupy the beach. The hectic days of summer subside leaving the beach open to new possibilities and visitors. Fall is truly a paradise for surfing in Huntington Beach as the water is still warm and offshore winds howl that help the conditions of the waves. This is an ideal time to learn the sport of surfing, as there are less people in the water and more opportunities to ride uncrowded waves. Waves are like a precious resource in the summer time as there are many people competing to ride them. Like any limited resource it is not always accessible to all who seek to enjoy it, as there is a lot of competition to ride waves. A beginning surfer is not always adept to the subtleties and etiquette required to catch waves in a competitive atmosphere. At Learn to Surf we teach the etiquette required in the sport of surfing as well as the positioning and situational awareness required to catch waves. In the fall the competitiveness drastically reduces out in the water amongst surfers due to more waves and less people. Hence making it an easier endeavor and putting the student at ease, as there are fewer obstacles to overcome like people wadding in the water or other surfers. Take advantage of the season of fall out in Huntington Beach because as most know it is billed as “surf city” and during spring and summer you will truly see the “city” come out to surf. Once you learn to surf you will live to surf…I hope to see you out in the water very soon.

Aloha Nui Loa!

No one out...endless possibilities
No one out…endless possibilities

The Outside Surf Lesson

I have taught countless surf lessons many of which start near shore in the white water reform area where the wave has already broke.  This method is great for the first time beginner who literally has never been surfing or has a low level of ability.  However surf lessons should eventually be able to be taught on what surfers call the outside.  The outside is where you will often see packs of surfers congregating on their surfboards sitting on them staring out to sea.  I can assure you their stares serve a purpose as they are reading the undulation of the ocean watching for patterns and sets of waves to form.  On small days a novice surfer can have an outside lesson because the waves have less power and are easier to stand up on as there is less drop making it easier to ride the wave.  The surf schools I have worked for never had anyone other than myself conduct an outside surf lesson due to the fact the surf instructors physically could not do the job and could not effectively communicate how to surf on the outside.  However when you read about surf schools that claim they are the best out there it is quite amusing to know they can only teach beginner surf lessons.  Furthermore when an instructor is not properly trained on water safety even if the lesson was supposed to take place near shore a first time surfer can be swept out to sea putting them in harms way.  I have personally witnessed this happened as other instructors failed to properly control the situation and they have had to defer to lifeguards to bring their clients back to shore.  My staff can all teach outside surf lessons…I have personally trained each one of them and there is a stamp of approval on each surf instructor that works for Learn to Surf.  We are all professional watermen that are above the age of 18 as I would not put any high school aged instructor in the water that would dictate the safety of a client and their family.  Nor would I hire an instructor that was too old to proficiently be able to swim, run, or paddle out of a situation that required someone of a more appropriate age to conduct an outside surf lesson.  Reputation is everything and here at Learn to Surf we can honestly assert we are the best and safest surf lesson in both Huntington Beach and Newport Beach.

Surf lesson in Newport Beach.
Surf lesson in Newport Beach.

Surf Memories Last Forever

One of the greatest feelings for us here at Learn to Surf is watching our client’s progression after you have taken a lesson with us. To see a client embrace the techniques and skill sets that we teach them and utilize them in the water is an awesome feeling as a surf instructor. With that in mind, please feel free to upload your own personal photos of you surfing or while at the beach onto our Facebook, Instagram, Yelp, or Trip Advisor accounts. Remember, your surf lesson does not end with you merely going home to tell the tale of your wave riding experience. Surfing is a life long journey that has no set end goal only a myriad of possibilities that will blossom as time goes on. New experiences that are derived from surfing can be anything from confidence boosting to a new more enjoyable way to exercise. The power of the ocean to bring people together to love a sport such as surfing is quite profound. I am lucky to be in the water everyday sharing my passion building a foundation for you to enjoy the sport that has brought me such joy. Learn to Surf is always here for you to create these great memories.

MikeOne of my proudest moments in the water was getting Mike into this head high set wave that rolled in…he made the drop and now has a memory that will last his entire life. I have also made a life long friend; given him the building blocks to be a waterman, and will be surfing with him again later this month.

The State of Surf Camps

Surfing is such an amazing sport that it draws large crowds, spectators, and participants every year to our local beaches. There is a certain magical quality one feels while ridding a wave or watching someone practice the art of surfing in the ocean. In my time down here as a resident of Newport Beach, I have seen numerous tourists come and attempt the sport. Some have been successful in learning the basics, others have been given a serious dose of reality. Regardless of ones ability we are all on the same path to learn this art in order to accomplish whatever goal in life we wish to achieve. Some practice the sport for fitness, others as a way to synthesize themselves with nature and enjoy its beauty.

What has been happening down in both Newport and Huntington Beach that troubles me is the large “surf school” or “surf camp” that attempts to teach visitors the art of surfing. I have worked for these “schools” and “camps” and to be completely honest the only thing that was being taught was how to capitalize on tourist’s lack of knowledge when it comes to surfing.

Big Group of Surfers

Safety should be the forefront of any lesson in the ocean whether it is surfing, swimming, sailing, or anything concerning navigating ocean waters. The issue at hand is that surf schools try to pass themselves off as being accredited in safety and therefore legitimate by a non-profit organization known as the NSSIA. This organization was created in order to capitalize off the large number of surf schools popping up around local beaches. Its name piggybacks off the NSSA, which is a high profile association that attracts a large number of amateur surf competitors, puts on surf contests, and is a legitimate organization in the surf community. The NSSIA however is not a credible source of safety training…I know this because I worked for two very large and well known surf schools in Orange County that had certifications from the NSSIA.  Both of the owners worked in conjunction with the NSSIA and had a financial interest in it and never once did either school train any of its instructors in safety, lifeguarding, or anything that the NSSIA claims the schools under its banner go through. I however went through the ultimate water safety training programs in the US Navy. When I went through Dive School in the US Navy I was taught advanced lifeguard training. I could proficiently take a large man who was unconscious out of the water and revive him through chest compressions or if need be through the use of an AED. I was put through a battery of drown proofing tests in SEAL training where my arms and legs were tied with ropes. I was tested everyday by being put in emergency situations where I had to use my training, water skills, and calm demeanor in order to safely pass a drill.

The surf camps under the banner of the NSSIA or others that claim to be CPR certified are playing a dangerous game by claiming they are proficiently trained in safety. The instructors that teach lessons with Learn to Surf are put through a slew of tests that I adapted from both SEAL and Dive School training. The ocean is such an unpredictable entity that I cannot fathom how a surf camp with a student/instructor ratio of 4-1 or greater can claim they are safe. With that being said just because a city, surf shop, or hotel recommends a surf school, does not mean that it’s safe. I am safe and have the credentials to prove it…I went through the toughest military training in the world. I was in the water everyday. I am still in the water everyday. And I cannot wait to teach you how to be proficient and safe in the water everyday so that one day you can teach others the correct way.