Surfing

Surfing is one of the most popular board sports invented, with a reported 20 million surfers across the world with the number on the increase.  Every surfer has her/his own reasons for taking up the sport, however, the mixture of physical exercise, increase in wellbeing and mental health; being at one with nature; and getting a great dose of sunlight and sea air appear to be some of the the main benefits.

Margate Community Blue Light Day exercise 2019 – Photo credit: Sarah Hewes

Lifeguards and Lifeboat Crews are regularly called out to assist and deal with incidents involving surfers.  Here are some safety tips to help you stay safe whilst having a fun time:

Top 11 Surfing Safety Tips

1. Surfing is much more fun with a mate –  It is always better to surf alongside another person for safety sake incase one of you should get into difficulty

2. Let someone know that you’re going out, the location & what is the latest time you will be back –  this is so important incase the HM Coastguard/Lifeboat have to start a search

3. Check out the tide times and weather forecast – there are plenty of free smart device app’s available to download for weather forecasting and tide times

4. Have you considered the dangers of rip currents? They are the cause of a significant number of lifeguard call-outs every year.  More information on rip currents

5. Be realistic about your limits. Even the most experienced surfers have been caught out in the past.

6. Grab some training. There are a multitude of approved surf schools across the country. Why not grab a few lessons yourself before you head out for the first time.

7. Always wear a leash – So you don’t become separated from your board.  If you have got hold of your board you will have something to keep you afloat should you get into difficulty. It will also help lifeboat and Coastguard crews locate you more easily.

8. Wear the correct wetsuit – As well as keeping you warm, wetsuits will give some additional protection from rock scrapes or surfboard impacts.

9. Always think about other surfers and water users – learn about surfer etiquette and rights of way

10. Know who to call in a coastal emergency – If you see or hear someone or an animal that you think is in difficulty in the water dial ‘999’ or ‘112’ and ask for the Coastguard straight away.

RNLI Beach Flags

11. Surf between the black and white chequered flags – the lifeguards are an excellent source of local knowledge eg hazards, tide times, weather forecasts, injury prevention amongst others.

Useful statistics

In 2017 Lifeguards dealt with 524 incidents involving surfers

Between 2011-2015 there were 8 UK surfing fatalities* (RNLI lifeguard and lifeboat data)

Ramsgate’s Atlantic 85 Inshore Lifeboat

Useful links

British Surfing

Surfing England

British Surfing UK Surfing Guide

Surfers Against Sewage

 

Acknowledgements

RNLI

HM Coastguard

 


Andy Mills

Thanet RNLI Community Safety Officer Striving to reduce accidental drownings by 50% by 2024 by spreading key safety messages to Thanet communities and its visitors.