Tofino surfing: Surf Equipment for Beginners
by Jayson Bowers, Tofino
Hello again to all
of you who are entering the surfing world and to those of you who have
started to immerse yourself in our frigid waters. 2003 brings us into
yet another year of wonderful surfing opportunities.
Lets start off on the right foot for the new season by getting you
all in the water with the right equipment. Surfing–as many other
sports in this world of ours–has a ton of different equipment
options. This can be very confusing for the beginner and very hard
on the old pocketbook.
The first thing you should look at is your choice of rubber. There
are many different brands of wetsuits, booties, gloves etc. and they
all fill different individual needs. Without going into details about
different styles and fits, I suggest you try on at least 2-3 different
brands of suits and you will see for yourself which brand works for
you. A wetsuit must fit very tight and with the new materials that
suits are made out of this is particularly important. The new neoprene
is very stretchy and will shape to the contours of your body in time,
but if the wetsuit is to big to start with you will run into some
very chilly days down the road! The suit should fit snug around your
armpits and down your lats at your side. The next most important
area is the small of your back (your lower back). If your suit does
fit snug, you end up with gaps of empty space between your skin and
the suit, and this is where bits of the cold Pacific will sit and
send a chill through your bones! If you are lucky and have that special
body, a certain wet suit will fit perfectly, nice and snug all around,
but if you are like me, you get it as close as you can to snug.
If money is an issue (and to most of us it is) I suggest you put
the better part of your budget towards new rubber as opposed to a new
Sure, boards are pretty in and out of the water, but in the early stages
it is not the most important thing (more on that later). A new or used
suit you ask? Well that is up to you and your budget. If it were my
choice, I would spend all I could afford on a new suit and booties.
After all–if you drive all the way to the beach and only last
an hour in the water, learning to surf will take you that much longer.
This doesn't mean that a used suit is the wrong way to go. There
is a huge selection of used suits out there and the more this sport
grows, the bigger the selection will get. Just make sure you get the
suit that fits the best–not the cheapest relic you can find from
Now to surfboards...
Ahh the beautiful surfboard... I would love to tell all of you to
go out and drop $700 on that sexy new board, but the truth is–a
new board is not what you really need to start out with! (Apologies
to my best friend Allister who owns the surfshop). Learning to surf
takes a huge toll on your surfboard. Knees, elbows etc. are constantly
slamming and sticking into the deck of the board, drastically reducing
the life of your best friend in the water. A new board would look like
some thing out of a war movie in a few weeks, so I suggest a used surfboard,
and there is a heap of them out there. Your first board should have
a lot of foam in it, it should be thick and it should be no shorter
than 7ft long. A long board (minimal or a fun shape) is what you are
looking for. There are many boards out there that are 7ft long but
many are what we call 'gun shapes'. A gun shape has a very
pointy nose and in most cases a pointy tail (pin tail). These boards
are for big-wave riding–definitely not for learning to surf.
You want a lot of foam in your board so it floats well and makes paddling
as easy as it can be. You need the length to get you into waves, so
in the early stages of surfing, we say at Pacific Surf School: "When
it comes to your board: The bigger the better!"
I hope this gives you some heads up when you are shopping for some
new or newish gear. Until next time...
Jason Bowers runs the Pacific Surf School in Tofino. Visit his
website at www.pacificsurfschool.com.
You can reach
him by phone at 1-888-777-9961 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Introduction to surf gear - from surfboard and wetsuit to gloves and boots. By Tofino surf instructor Jay Bowers of Pacific Surf School, for Tofino Time Magazine.