Rip current - learn everything you can about rip current before you go surfing

Rip current - "A strong, narrow surface current that flows rapidly away from the shore, returning the water carried landward by waves. Also called riptide, tiderip."

If you sit on the beach and watch experienced surfers and how they use the rip currents to save themselves some paddling effort you observe a few things. First they are using almost no effort to paddle out. Second they are popping out of the current right at the take off spot and catching a wave. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Again and again they do it, taking the wave all the way in, and heading back out using the current as a towline.

As a beginner you do not want to jump right in and try this. No matter how efficient it looks you need some water time to know how to do this correctly. You do not want to have to be rescued by a lifeguard or another surfer because you tried this without having the surfing chops you needed.

You need to have strong paddling ability to use this technique, it is an energy saver, but it is no substitute for good, old-fashioned swimming skill. When you know that you are strong enough and you have observed experienced surfers repeatedly, then you can give the technique a go. Unless the surf is very small make sure you are buddied up with someone who is both a strong swimmer and surfer.

If you have studied well and are a strong paddler you won’t need them. But you want the security behind you. Confidence boosting combined with knowledge and discretion will allow you to learn the technique.

Be aware that when you come out of the current you will be dropped off right where everyone else is too. You need to have the ability to maintain optimal board control so that you do not endanger your fellow surfers.

Using riptides to your advantage is only one of the many things you’re going to learn as you acquire more skill and experience. You need to gradually push yourself in order to broaden your range of skills, but you need to do it in a systematic and safe fashion.

Never let ego be your guide. Lack of knowledge combined with cockiness leads to only one outcome, and it’s not favorable. Build your skill gradually and with time, patience and increased ability you will soon be answering the questions rather than asking them.

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