The world is fascinated with surfers, but most people have a lot of misconceptions about what surfing entails. Whether you’re already a surfer or just thinking about learning, you’re going to hear these misconceptions at some point. Here are 14 myths about surfing, where they might have come from, and some facts to help you set the record straight:
1. SURFING IS EASY.
This misconception probably comes from the fact that surfing looks simple to the uninitiated. Like any great athlete or performer, surfers make their precise balance and movements look effortless. Surfing is thrilling and addictive, but it’s not easy.
2. YOU CAN ONLY SURF IN THE SUMMER.
Surfers may flock to the beach on warm days, but you can surf year-round. You just need a good wetsuit. Surfers in temperate climates may also need gloves and boots for the winter months.
3. SURFERS ARE LAZY/DON’T HAVE JOBS.
The beach bum stereotype has been attached to surfers for ages. The reality is that most surfers work 9-to-5 like everybody else. We just make time for a sport we love.
4. SURFING ISN’T A SPORT.
The definition of a sport is: “an athletic competition requiring skill or prowess that is often competitive in nature.” Surfing requires skill, and there are plenty of surfing competitions. So, yeah, surfing is a sport.
5. YOU CAN’T MAKE A CAREER OUT OF SURFING.
Top surfers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars in prize money at competitions. If they take on sponsorship, these same surfers can earn seven figures a year.
6. YOU HAVE TO LEARN SURFING WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG.
Obviously, if you start anything young and practice consistently, you’ll end up being pretty good. This is true with surfing like any other sport or skill. But plenty of people learns to surf when they’re older and enjoy themselves just as much.
7. SURFING IS TOO DANGEROUS FOR KIDS.
This misconception contradicts the previous one. There is some risk involved in surfing, but there’s no reason kids can’t learn with proper guidance. Picking an appropriately sized board for a young learner is of particular importance to curtailing injury.
8. IF YOU DON’T LIVE IN HAWAII OR CALIFORNIA, YOU CAN’T SURF.
Not true! Surfing may have started in Hawaii, but today people surf all over the world. Though not as well-known, there are awesome surfing beaches on the East Coast of the U.S., in Europe, and along the coasts of Africa.
9. SURFING IS ONLY FOR GUYS.
There are plenty of women and girls who surf. There are professional female surfers as well, like Carissa Moore who started surfing when she was only five years old. Now she’s 24 and has won three ASP Women’s World Tour Championships.
10. YOU HAVE TO BE IN PERFECT PHYSICAL CONDITION TO SURF.
Like any athletic activity, surfing requires a basic level of fitness. However, stamina and balance are just as important in surfing as strength. Even if you’re not the most athletic person, you can still learn to surf.
11. IF YOU SURF, YOU’RE MORE LIKELY TO GET ATTACKED BY A SHARK.
Anyone who gets in a shark’s habitat–also known as the ocean–assumes some risk. However, shark attacks are extremely rare, even for surfers. Taking a few precautions, like avoiding fishing boats and murky water, will reduce your risk of bumping into a shark.
12. SURFING BEFORE/DURING/AFTER A STORM IS THE BEST.
You might have seen some local news coverage of surfers out in the ocean right before a big storm. A lot of surfers will avoid these times, however, because ocean conditions change quickly and unpredictably. Safe surfing can be had on all sorts of days, not just when a storm is looming.
13. NOT THAT MANY PEOPLE SURF.
Surfing is huge! It’s estimated that 1.7 million Americans surf at least once a year (23 million worldwide!). The surfing industry generates over 7 billion dollars every year. What used to be a fringe sport has hit the mainstream.
14. SURFING DOESN’T HAVE A LOT OF BENEFITS.
Surfing is so much more than just a way to pass the time. Surfing will strengthen your body and calm your mind. Surfing can be meditative and spiritual. In the least, surfing will help boost your confidence as you gain skill and conquer new challenges.