This time it's been decided, you're going to surf "real waves"! No more shapeless beachbreaks and their variable geometry sandbanks, you'll surf one of those perfect spots you've always dreamed of: a wave as regular as it is perfect thanks to the reef on which it waves.

Yet these dream visions alternate with some horror visions when you imagine missing your late take-off to go split your skull on the "reef". Here are a few tips so that the meeting leaves you with more memories than scars.

1/ Find out more. There are reef and reef. This generic name for a solid bottom can be applied to the flat, well-covered rocks of Guéthary as well as to the Teahupoo coral reef. Choose your spot carefully and check the tide to avoid that 3m of the reef to cross becomes 50 on the return.

2/ Take your time. Allow 3 hours to surf 2 hours: you do not know the spot and launching can be complicated. We often go out somewhere else. Watch the locals who know the "key holes" where you can pass. But you don't have to follow them if they jump off rocks...

3/ Getting equipped. Slippers are the best protection. Prefer the low models with an adapted tightening. If they bother you, try Rip Curl's Pocket Reef Boot, to store in a pocket of your shorts once in the line-up.

For the rest of the body you can put on a helmet and Timmy Turner style, but a long sleeve top is already a good start.

If you are afraid of getting stuck underwater, buy pin leashs (Dakine and XM make them) or practice quickly removing the scratch from your usual model and always put it in the same direction.

4/ Don't go halfway. The clear water gives the impression to take off directly on the reef. If you don't feel it, stay at the edge and enjoy the show because lack of commitment is dangerous. But don't wait for the swell to drop: the smaller it is, the closer it is to the reef.

5/ Jumping into the water. Ideally, arrive by boat to avoid a complicated launch. No way? Start by walking on the dry reef (hint: if it's green, it slips!). Once in the water, walk slowly by pressing your hands on your board turned over, drifts in the air not to damage them. Row (with your fingertips first) as soon as possible.

6/ Adapt your surfing. Easy with the duck. Leave your hands above the board so you don't lose a phalanx, and don't push too hard.

Swirls and air bubbles often indicate a shallow area. Also, watch your step at the take-off.

Resist the urge of the last reentry, get out of the wave before the dry section. Eject yourself before the tube closes, not straight ashore.

7/ Fall well. In case of wipe-out at take-off, protect your head and get in a ball. Then, stay as flat as possible with your arms apart. This starfish position will keep you above the water. Get used to crawling back up on your board from this position, without leaning on the bottom. Perhaps not the most stylish way to handle the situation, but this method may save you from ending your session or even your trip prematurely.

8/ Care and repair. If the impact on a rock can cause some bruising, contact (even light) with live coral can cause a serious infection. Film the "lemon on the wound" sequence to impress friends, but disinfect with a conventional antiseptic. For urchin thorns, Vaseline and tweezers will be your allies. Also, bring a repair kit, it is often the board that pays for a meeting with the reef.


For more articles, click here!