How to read a surf forecast (Part 1)

Learning to surf is finding the right kind of waves that are suitable for you, understanding what kind of weather variables create these ideal waves and how to read a surf forecast.

This surf tip is good for you to learn some surf science! 

Once you’ve go through it, you will be able to:

Enjoy at least 85% of your sessions in suitable waves and surf faster

Choose the ‘epic’ conditions a week in advance to organise your schedule accordingly

Although the surf report on the radio may say that it’s 9 out of 10 but, remember those reports are in fact aimed at more experienced professional surfers which is too hard for surfers at learning level. However, if they report it as flat then it could be your perfect training ground.

The following words is used to describe the different types of waves: size, power, shape, surface conditions, speed and direction. 

So, what is suitable for you while learning:

Size is quite straight forward, indicating how high the wave is from the bottom to the top of the lip. The issue is how surfers talk about the height of a wave. Some call ft; “it’s 3 ft out there”, “some 8 footers coming through”. But, this is actually “surfer’s ft”. Which means 4-8 ft if they say 2-3ft.  It can be even more confusing in Hawaiian where 2ft is actually a lot bigger than a kiwi 2ft.

If you don’t understand, just go with shoulder height, overhead, double overhead….it’s much less ambiguous. At learning stage, just focus on the size of waves that you feel confident with which totally depend on your fitness level and considering a general rule that anything from waist high to head high will be safer.

Power is not easy to predict until you’ve got enough experience although it is simply how hard the waves break and the volume of water consist.  You get thin waves and thick waves which surfers often describe as “fun” or “heavy”.