How to: Travel With Your Surfboard

When you own a surfboard, of course you want to take it with you on your next surftrip. Your board should arrive there just as healthy and safety like you. Unfortunately, it is known, that many airlines do not treat the luggage very well, so I show you this time in a step by step guide how you can make your board ready to fly.

Step by Step Guide: How to prepare your surfboard for a flight

Step 1: Check the baggage policy

First you should check if it’s possible to take your board with you and how much it will cost you. This page provides a good and comprehensive overview of many airlines, what they allow and how much they charge for the transport. Check also the baggage policy on your airlines webpage. Here they will also let you know if a reservation for your luggage is required.

Step 2: A good board bag is mandatory

Now that you know you can take your board with you, you should pack it safely. A good board bag is half the battle. But also the way how you pack your board is crucial.

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Step 3: Remove Leash, Fins and Wax

If there is still wax on the board, remove it. Otherwise it maybe sticks melted in your board bag later. The Fins can break off during transport broken, so simply unscrew them with a Fin-Key. Also remove the leash from your Board.

Step 4: Protect Rails, Tail and Nose

The nose and the tail are particularly vulnerable. You can protect them with foam-pipes from the hardware store, which you usually use for the insolation of pipes. Cut them on one side, pull it over nose, rails and tail and fix it with tape. If you don’t have a hardware store nearby, you can also roll a towel and use this instead. To avoid residual glue, you can wrap your board cling film before. To avoid plastic waste, I refrain and remove any residue with nail polish remover.

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Step 5: Pack and Stuff

For this reason – no plastic waste – I don’t use bubble wrap. I use clothes and towels instead to cushion my board. Wrap your Board into it and fix it with tape. If you have a board sock, put it over your board now. The well-padded surfboard now comes in the board bag. Fill free spaces with other clothes or towels.

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Step 6: Nothing forgotten?

Check again if you have Fins, Fin-key and leash. It would be annoying to forget those things. And also don’t forget the tape so that you can prepare your board again for your flight back.

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Now your board should be good enough packed to survive the flight unscathed. So good and safe trip and see you in the line up!

stay stoked and hang loose

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Lessons I learned: Mistakes in surfing

It looks so easy when others do it. I am surfing for four years now, not consistantly but quite a long time though. There are some small mistakes have crept in. And it’s really hard to get rid of them. But when you know what you’re doing wrong, you can work on it. Here are my common mistakes:

I don’t look back while paddling for a wave

When there is a wave I usually start paddling like a maniac. With a quick look behind you, you can not just check if and where the wave will break. You also can see if someones going for the wave as well, who might has priority.

I get hectic when the wave is coming

Sometimes it happens, that I get hectic. Then I really want to go fast and faster. And then I start to open my arms to widely. That leads to an inefficient paddling just on the surface. You have to do deep and long strokes to gain up speed. It will help you if you lift your upper body into a hollow back.

My take off is too slow

This is a big issue and something I really need to work on. I am taking off in two steps and it takes me ages until I finally stand up on my board. On land it’s pretty easy for me to jump up, but on the water it’s different. The only thing that will help is to practice.

I stare at the nose and my feet

When you stand wrong on your board you will fall off anyway. It doesn’t make a difference if you see your feet or not. Quite the contrary, you will be even more wobbly. Don’t look down, look where you want to go… first to the horizon then to the wave. That is what I worked on in my last holiday. And now I could x it out from this list.

My arms hanging flabby

My arms often flap loose beside my body. One one hand it looks kind of ridiculous. On the other hand, it’s important to move your arms slightly with you, when you start to turn. And when I not forget it – surprise, surprise – it’s getting more easy to turn.

When it’s getting wobbly, I set myself up

People tend to raise up when they feel to loose balance. And that’s actually totally stupid, because only when you are down and stay loose in the knees you get stability again. The Indos always talk about the “crap-style” because many Europeans stand on the board, just as they would sit on a toilet. Eighth time on it, it really is true – that always remain loose.

How could I even surf?

Oh, Oh, what a long list. Now I am amazed, that I even surf some waves. But sometimes it just works! You need proof? Here:

and sometimes it works

… apparently I did something right 🙂

The most important thing: never give up and have fun. No matter how many mistakes you make, as long there’s a smile on your face when you come out the water, everything’s fine.

Over to you: What are your common mistakes on the water? How do you get rid of it?

stay stoked and hang loose

Surfing: How To Get Back In After A Break

The first day in a surf camp is for me always a day full of mixed emotions. On one hand I am absolutely euphoric – finally surfing again, in the ocean, into the waves. On the other hand: disillusion, most things just don’t work how they should. That leads to disappointment, frustration and dissatisfaction.

But why? And How Can You Avoid It?

Expectations Are Too High

The first day is for getting used to surf again not for high performance surfing. I know that, but still, I often can’t appreciate even small success. I tend to belittle my accomplishments. … “Yeah, that was quite ok, but only in the white water and also I had a longboard …” Better is…
Enjoy every wave you get and do not be disappointed because they may be too small or you were not able to ride them long enough Try not to think about how much better it was the last time. Be glad about those small moments of happiness and success!

Not Enough Training

Everyday life can be very stressful and busy sometimes, so training has not always prio 1and I skipped it once in a while… shame on me. But what goes around comes around. After a few paddle strokes I hang panting on my board and must take a rest constantly. The next day I have sore muscles and then I could barely move. To avoid this…
Train regularly. Your goal should be to start where you end at your last surf trip. Hang in there.

Bad Equipment In The Surf schools

The boards in the surf schools are in heavy use. Therefore, there is either water-soaked soft board or haevy hard boards made of poly-ethylene. Then it could be that there is no surfboard with your preferred sizes or this it is just given to someone else. Therefore …
If possible, take your own equipment. You know your board and so you don’t have to struggle with rented board with low quality. In the worst case you have to test more than one to find something that suites you. Precious time, you better use for having fun

No Help

Especially when I visit a place for the first time and am not familiar with the spots and the waves I feel sometimes a little helpless. And when I am in a huge group of surfers it maybe can be, that me and my interests disappear in the group. But…
You should talk to your surf guide. When you have a specific goal that you want to work on, tell him and ask for feedback later.

If you follow those tips, you can avoid disappointment and frustration on your first day on the board again. And always remember:

surf and have fun

The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.

Over to you: What about your first day surfing after a long time?

stay stoked and hang loose

Review: Jah Shaka Surf Camp Portugal Luz

The next surf trip seemed so far away. Hence I decided to go on a short trip with friends in the Algarve, Portugal. Because of all the good reviews on Tripadvisor and their Facebookpage we decided to go to the Jah Shaka Surfcamp in Luz, near Lagos.

The Algarve

For me it was the first time in the Algarve and I really like the landscape. Some fancy stone formations and rough cliffs are surrounding small bays and wide sand beaches. Located on the south-west of this beautiful country, there are always some good waves promised. Lagos and Sagres are small, picturesque villages with those white houses, which are typical for this area. Both have a lovely small and cute center with an amount of restaurants and tiny stores. Everything is very touristic but still nice.

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Jah Shaka – The Camp

The camp is located near Luz. At first you will realize the beautiful yard with its pool, a beachvolleyball field, a football table, a fireplace. There are so much possibilities to chill and doing activities. In the backyard is the camping site located. The other guests will share one of the rooms in the villa. In the huge hall there is a chimney and a TV, which is just too much in use. The rooms are appropriate, but clean. Just a little minus is the number of bathrooms – there are three of them. For the guest in the house it would be enough, but when you add the camping guests it is definitely not. Especially in the morning or after the surf sessions, there will be a lot of traffic and it will be hard to get a free slot.

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Jah Shaka – Camplife and Activities

A great evening program and nice food – this is in my opinion the forte of the Jah Shaka Camp. Nearly every evening there were well structured activities for the camp inhabitants, like some inhouse dinners, which were awesome, and some common meals in nearby restaurants, which are also highly recommendable. Even for vegetarians were some alternatives. Besides regularly yoga classes SUP tours are offered. If there are enough people interested, you can book a sunrise or sunset tour.

Jah Shaka – Food

Like I mentioned before: The meals were all good. The breakfast was pretty varied and offered all you need to start the day. Pancakes, cereals, bread, eggs, fresh fruits and yogurt – even soy yogurt, just to name a few. If you booked a surf session there was a lunch break at the beach. Some salads and stuff to make a sandwich were put on a surfboard and everybody could just pick the things he liked.

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Jah Skaka – Surf lessons

This is my most criticized point. And that’s bad, because that was the main reason for my trip. Before we booked the lessons I was really struggling between guiding or lessons. But I thought to myself, that a little bit of teaching would be good for me. You know, work on some stuff, learning something new… so I did choose the lessons. Spoiler alert: it was the wrong decision and I tell you why:

The main reason in my opinion was, way too big groups. So you had one surf guide for seven people, which was reasoned by the number of seats in the vans. Even too much, if you ask me. But okay, depends also on the instructor. At the beach the people were separated into different groups. From beginners over people, who want to work on their basic techniques to advanced. Depending on the people it happened that we were more than 12 people in a group with only one instructor. I am not wondering that didn’t work out – an individual and intensive treatment is just not possible with that number of people.

At the beach they gave a brief introduction into some techniques, e.g. turns and if wanted, a quick warm up. And then… in the water: all together! We were lucky that there were no other surf school around, but imagine about 30 people just chasing for one wave. The safety rules were not explained so this is a miracle that not more people got injured. Everybody went into the ocean without watching the others and without enough space to each other.

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At my first day my group was about nine people including myself. Our Coach went into the line up with ONE girl. The rest of us left back unattended. I paddled out as well and the coach just didn’t attend me. On the second day I got no feedback neither. On day four I really wanted to know: I paddled in just in between two guides and surfed back just the same way… no feedback at all. No comment, no word at all. I started to do mistakes on purpose just to see if they will mention something. But no!.On my last day we went to a beach and were left there for over three hours to wait for better conditions while the coaches were surfing. So why not start later?

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To put it all together: no one ever spoke a word to me when I was in the water. No hints, no suggestions, neither a “Hey, great job”

Okay, that is just my opinion. But other participants had the same impression. My friend told me from a strange situation. She recognized that one of the students was wearing the leash on the front foot – WRONG! After she watched it for half an hour she went to one of the coaches and hesitatingly asked: “I am not a surf teacher and I don’t really know, but I think there’s maybe something wrong. Does the boy wearing his leash on the wrong foot?” The coach replied: yeah, he does, but he is catching more waves than anybody else, so what???” Another friend of mine told me that he didn’t get a feedback on the water as well – just on the beach while dryland training. Someone else, who was smart enough to just book the guiding told me, that he sees no difference between the guiding and the lessons.

On the other hand, there were plenty of people who really liked the way of teaching. I’m not sure, if they have nothing to compare with or if there was a difference in that treatment. I don’t know, but for me the surf lesson experience was a huge disappointment, so sorry to say. Instead of getting better and learning some new stuff I felt like I did a step back.

Summarized:

  • the Algarve is definitely worth a visit
  • I will not visit this surf camp a second time
  • although all the trappings was really great
  • the organization was good and mood was great but
  • the staff seemed partly unmotivated and what I had come for,
  • the surfing lessons were a disaster for me

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