What are wipeouts in surfing?
Wipeouts in surfing occur when you fall off your surfboard while riding a wave and can lead to injuries, such as sprains, strains, or even concussions. It’s important to learn proper techniques for falling safely and protecting your head and neck during wipeouts. Wiping out, or falling off your surfboard, is an inevitable part of the experience when surfing. While wipeouts can be unpredictable, there are some general guidelines to follow to ensure your safety while wiping out.
Safety tips for Wipeouts
- Stay calm: As soon as you realize you’re going to fall off, try to stay calm and relaxed. Panic can lead to quicker loss of remaining oxygen or disorientation.
- Cover your head: Protect your head by covering it with your arms. Keep your elbows close to your body and your hands in fists to avoid any potential collisions with your surfboard.
- Fall flat: Aim to fall flat on your stomach or back rather than headfirst. This helps minimize the risk of injury, especially if you’re in shallow water.
- Keep your feet up: Try to keep your feet up and away from the ocean floor, rocks, or coral if you’re in a reef break. Tucking your knees to your chest can help protect your lower body.
- Avoid diving: Avoid diving headfirst into the water when falling off. It’s crucial to protect your neck and head from impact with the ocean floor.
- Protect your board: If possible, try to hold onto your board while falling to prevent it from becoming a hazard to yourself or others in the lineup. However, be mindful of others around you and release your board if necessary to avoid collision.
- Surface quickly: After wiping out, aim to resurface as quickly as possible. Use your arms to paddle back up to the surface and take a deep breath once you break through.
- Be aware of your surroundings: Before resurfacing, take a quick look around to ensure there are no other surfers or potential hazards in your immediate vicinity.
- Signal if needed: If you need help or are in distress, raise your hand to signal to other surfers or lifeguards that you need assistance.
Practice and experience will help improve your ability to handle wipeouts. Learning to fall safely is an essential part of becoming a proficient surfer, so don’t be discouraged by wipeouts. Learn from them and embrace the process of getting better. As Alfred said to Bruce Wayne: “Why do we fall, Sir? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up!”