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Once you’ve mastered basic surfing techniques, you might be able to conquer some bigger waves!
(Warren Bolster / Stone / Getty)

Catch a Wave!

Find out about learning to surf. Then see how surf competitions are scored.

Grab a surfboard this summer and conquer an ocean wave! Surf camp is a fun and safe way to get started in this extreme sport, says Rick Gehris, owner of the Surfari Surf School, located in California and Florida. Gehris has some tips for first-timers.

The first thing to learn is how to “pop up” to a standing position on your board. Lying facedown, place your hands up by your chest with your palms pressed into the board. Then, in one quick motion, push yourself up and hop to your feet. Once you’ve mastered this move, head for the water.

Start with small waves. When one approaches, aim the board toward the shore and paddle with your arms as fast as you can. When the wave catches your board, “pop up” and ride the wave in. Don’t get discouraged if you can’t ride your first wave. “Kids tend to pick it up on their second or third try,” says Gehris.

As a beginner, start with a light foam board that won’t hurt you if you lose control of it, says Gehris. And talk to a lifeguard to make sure the waves aren’t too strong for someone just getting started—safety is always the most important rule. Then hit the surf!

WHAT TO DO

In professional surfing competitions, five judges use a scale from 1 to 10 to score each ride a surfer takes. Judges give points for speed, variety of maneuvers, and how those maneuvers flow together as a performance.

The chart in this pdf shows a surfer’s scores for the four waves she caught in the first heat of a competition. Use the information to answer the questions.