How to Surf with a Life Vest

How to Surf with a Life Vest
Surfing is a sport that requires great balance and significant practice and is an exhilarating experience. Staying safe while out in the surf is a number one priority, as surfing is a dangerous sport. Many surfers wear a neoprene surf vest which is not the same as a rated life vest. Some surf vests provide a slight amount of buoyancy, but not enough to keep your entire body afloat. Wearing a paddling vest--the same as you would with a canoe or kayak--is an alternative to a surf vest as they provide a greater amount of buoyancy and allow for a wide range of motion in the shoulders and arms. Surfing with a life vest greatly increases your chances of survival in dangerous situations on the water. The only difference in surfing with a life vest as opposed to a wet or dry suit is that you have to compensate for the buoyancy of the vest.

Instructions

Difficulty: Moderately Challenging

Things You’ll Need:
  • Paddling vest or life vest
  • Paddling vest or life vest
Step 1
Put the life vest on in accordance with the directions. All vests are manufactured differently and will have corresponding instructions on how to wear the particular life vest properly. The vest should not constrict movement in the arms or shoulders.
Step 2
Paddle out into the surf while lying flat on the board. As you approach crashing waves, aim the front of the board slightly downward below the crest of the wave. This is called "duck-diving" and will enable you to move through the wave without getting pushed back. You must push the board down with force and hold tight when you attempt this dive, as your life vest provides buoyancy and will inhibit your downward movement.
Step 3
Place yourself in sequence with an oncoming swell. As the water begins to rise up behind you paddle fast and in sequence with the movement of the setting wave.
Step 4
Push up off of the board with your forearms as you gain speed on the wave and simultaneously bring your feet up and land them flat on the board. Remain in a crouched position until you gain your balance, then stand firmly on the board.
Step 5
Use your leading foot to guide the board in the direction of the wave's movement. Do this by shifting the weight of your leading leg to the left or right, staying in sequence with the wave.

Tips & Warnings

 
Look for a life vest that is slender and form fitting; this will allow for greater range of motion which is essential when paddling out into heavy surf.
 
Look for a life vest that is slender and form fitting; this will allow for greater range of motion which is essential when paddling out into heavy surf.
 
Always execute proper safety while out on the water in heavy surf. You should never attempt to surf in dangerous weather conditions such as when rip-tides and large swells are in the area.
 
Always execute proper safety while out on the water in heavy surf. You should never attempt to surf in dangerous weather conditions such as when rip-tides and large swells are in the area.

Article Written By Jeremiah Blanchard

Jeremiah Blanchard has been writing professionally since 2006, specializing in topics related to nature, the environment, conservation and philosophy. His work has appeared in activist columns on Socyberty and Authspot. Blanchard studied art at William Carey College and history at the University of Southern Mississippi.

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