Mar 15, 2023

Time To Face Your Surfing Fears?

Feel it’s time to face your surfing fears? Our experienced team riders share their stories on how they push past the fear to face the waves.

There are a few different ways we can choose to face our surfing fears. Sometimes it’s consciously deciding to challenge ourselves and paddle out into conditions that are a little beyond our comfort zone. Sometimes our fears can catch us by surprise when a swell unexpectedly picks up and we’re out in the line-up. Or perhaps we start to feel the jitters creep in when we suddenly feel hyper aware about the other big fish we share the ocean with (you know the ones). Our team riders have been there and aren’t afraid to share their stories and strategies to keep on surfing.

Jamaica grew up in Margaret River, Western Australia, an area renowned for great white sharks... ‘A lot of shark attacks started happening around my hometown to people we knew. It was scary. When I was paddling out I’d start to see a shark right next to me and I would have to turn around and go in. I’d be almost in tears and my heart would be beating so fast. To be honest, I have not overcome the fear of sharks. But I surf because I love it and nothing is going to stop me. You can't just stop doing something because you're afraid.’ Of course always make informed decisions before you paddle out by checking the news, keeping an ear out to what the chat is amongst locals in the surf car park – and listen to your instincts. We are as much of a part of the ecosystem as the sharks, so if your instincts are pinging, maybe give the surf a miss that day.

Surfing bigger waves than you’re used to is an amazing experience when you’re feeling ready. To stay safe, ask a more experienced surfer to paddle out with you to give you confidence as the larger sets roll in. Fiji local Hannah decided to go surfing at Cloudbreak with a friend who had more water time with sizier waves. ‘I probably wouldn't have paddled out if it wasn't for her, but I thought, “I'm the local chick out here so if she's gonna go, I'm definitely going to give it a crack.” She let me borrow her board and we hadn’t even caught a wave yet when some bombs came through. The worst part is it doesn't just happen suddenly. You've got a moment to prep yourself as you see the sets move towards you. I dove under a wave and I lost my board and my leash broke. I remember coming up and my friend was so helpful and reassuring. She said “I'm so proud of you. You can have my board now.” I’ll never forget it.’

Mason grew up in Hawaii and has been caught unawares by comfortable waves quickly building in size. ‘If you get incoming swells and you're out there, it just picks up so fast. I've sat out the back and wanted to cry because I don’t know how I am going to get back in.’ Not to be dissuaded from bigger swells at home in Noosa, Mason takes the time to watch the waves. ‘One way to overcome the fear is to just pay attention to the ocean, even when you can't get out the back. When I can’t make it out the back when it’s really big, instead of feeling frustrated I usually bring a set of fins down to the beach so if I can't make it out, I can go for a bodysurf instead.’ Sure tackling fears can be a game changer but if you’re not feeling it, going for a swim or a body surf instead, or just simply watching the more experienced surfers go for the big waves can be fun. Mind surf those bigger waves and maybe one day you’ll decide to paddle out and join them.

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