As another beginner tip, stay away from the San Francisco breaks. There is no break that is conducive for learning in city limits.
Consider purchasing the book "Surfing California" by Bank Wright. Although he seems to ignore the fact that the coast extends north of the Golden Gate bridge, it is a great reference from there southward.
Got a free weekday - head down to Santa Cruz ! There are several great spots to learn down there, although weekends are kind of crowded. Check Cowell's for lessons, and there is another spot on the East Side just south of the Hook that is sort of a learner spot. I am not so up on Santa Cruz, since I rarely head that far down from the city.
To learn around here, get a nice full wetsuit - a 4/3 will work. Booties are a good idea also. For a board, you want something around 2 feet longer than you are tall, and 21 inches or more wide. Find a nice break around waist high.
To catch a wave you need speed, and you need for your board to be close to parallel to the surface of the water. One key bit of advice is that as the wave begins to reach you, you need to lean your weight further forward. This enables the board to begin to slide down the wave face. It can be quite frustrating for beginners who have not developed the paddling speed to catch waves yet, and haven't developed the timing for leaning forward to catch waves. Choose a spot where you will not get hurt, and sit outside the whitewater, and try to catch a few. You can try to stand once you feel the wave begin to accelerate the board. When you stand you cannot significantly alter the front to rear weight distribution on the board, or you will either lose the wave or nosedive. Also, NEVER place weight on your knees. Placing weight on your knees is a bad habit that ultimately will prevent you from learning to stand properly. Place your weight on your hands when you start to stand. The rear foot is placed at the rear of the board, and the front foot is placed between the two hands. GRADUALLY transfer your weight from your hands to your feet. This weight transfer will become more rapid with practice. It really isn't too tough, but it is definitely a LEARNED skill. A good athlete can learn to stand up well in about a dozen sessions in a month period. Less frequent sessions will extend the period, as will being less coordinated. But there are aspects to it like riding a bike - it can come back rapidly after a long time without surf.
Have fun out there. When you can catch lots of waves at Stinson or Linda Mar, you might consider Ocean Beach. For someone who doesn't have the ability, Ocean Beach is only punishing, not fun.
Send me anything you would like to see on this page to blakestah AT blakestah DOT com.
It is set up as a resource for the Bay Area beginner.
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