Before entering the water watch the waves and currents, waiting for a lull in the breaking waves. Enter the water where a wave has finished breaking and paddle out via the sides of the breaking waves.
Wave priority For areas where there is a sandy bottom, waves often break in different ways, and it is necessary to pass through the foam of the breaking waves to the best position for catching waves. To do this when you are a beginner, paddle hard towards the broken wave gaining as much speed as possible.
When the wave is directly in front of you, grip your board by the rails and let the wave pass over you.
As you improve you will learn to duck dive which is covered later. When paddling through waves, always keep the nose of your board pointed directly at the wave.
Always know where you are in the water by taking a mark on the land. If you find yourself in a rip taking you further away from land do not panic, paddle perpindicular to the rip to get out of it.
A surfer riding a wave has the right of way over a surfer paddling out. If a collision looks inevitable while you are paddling out, dive under the wave to avoid the surfer coming at you. For beginners the best way to learn to stand up is to practice in the broken white. As you improve, you will move further out to catch the waves before they have broken, watching the horizon for swell.
When you have improved, and are ready for the unbroken waves. Start paddling well before the swell gets to you, bringing your speed close to that of the approaching swell. As you feel the swell rise beneath you, paddle harder. If the swell is quite flat with little slope, you are too early for the wave and no matter how hard you paddle you wont catch it. If the wave is steep and almost about to break, you are too late.
When paddling for a wave always check for another surfer already on the wave. If there is another surfer already riding the wave it is his wave and you should not drop in on him A surfer riding a wave has priority over a surfer paddling out.
It is the responsibility of the surfer paddling out to avoid the collision, either paddle towards the white water or dive under the wave to avoid the approaching surfer.
When 2 surfers catch the same wave the surfer closest to the pocket or breaking part of the wave, who is in the more critical part of the wave, has priority and the other surfer should pull off the wave.
If two surfers catch the same wave the surfer up and riding first, all other things being equal, has priority. When riding a wave do not put other people, such as those paddling out, in danger.
Always check the tide times. The waves will be breaking on the rocks 2 hours before high tide. Remember that you must also get out of the water and if the tide is too high you will be washed up on the rocks and risk serious injury.
This happens all too often in Lahinch. If you are a beginner confine your surfing to the area in front of the car Lahinch Beachpark between O'Looneys and the first lifeguard tower.
With every wave that breaks there is water pushed in towards the shore. This water must go back out again and usually does so in the form of rips or strong currents. In Lahinch the current builds up from O'Looneys towards the surf shop and when it hits the rocks in front of the surf shop turns sharp right and heads straight out.
This rip is the most consistent on the beach. If you are inadvertently caught in this paddle across it to get out of it. There is also another rip further down the beach beyond the main slip. This varies more due to shifting sand bars.
Rips are usually visible as areas where the waves do not break when viewed from high on the prom. When you are in the water they are more difficult to spot but if you find yourself being swept out paddle parallel to the shore to get out of it. The rips are usually not very wide and do not generally go too far out. Their power increases with the size of the waves. Make yourself aware of the existence of the currents and their locations.
Tide times for Lahinch can be checked in the daily papers, Lahinch is 5 minutes earlier than Galway.