Troggs Surf School - Portrush Surf School, Northern Ireland

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Troggs Surf School - Surf Guide

Surf Advice: An Introduction

Many lives are lost to accidental drowning every year in Ireland. Tragically the majority of these are avoidable. An analysis of the statistic reveals that the critical factors are complacency and indeed lack of awareness of the dangers presented by water.

The Irish Surfing Community has been fortunate in this respect and has never had to cope with such tragedy. However with the increasing numbers taking up the sport it is only a matter of time.

Surfing is an adventure sport with an inherent element of risk. However this risk can be reduced if the basic safety rules and etiquette are adhered to by all. Every surfer should be familiar with and abide by the safety rules and etiquette before heading out into the "lineup". These are well-established rules throughout the world that bring safety and order to what would otherwise be a dangerous and chaotic sport.

Surf Advice: Accessing The Waves

In Ireland surfers depend on the good will of landowners and local residents to access many of the spots we surf on a regular basis.

  • Please respect our access and show respect to landowners and local residence.
  • Do not park where you are blocking gates, roadways, residences etc.Do not damage fences or leave gates open.
  • If you are unfamiliar with a break check with local surfers regarding access. If you see other surfers jeopardizing access bring the matter to their attention.
  • Please take your litter home.

Surf Advice: Avoid Collisions

  • A surfer riding a wave has priority over a surfer paddling out.
  • It is the responsibility of the surfer paddling out to avoid a collision.
  • When paddling back out you must never obstruct someone else who is up and riding.
  • Either paddle wide of the wave breaking area or into the white water. This allows the surfer who is up and riding to continue without having to dodge you. (However if the situation arises where a collision is inevitable the surfer riding the wave has the maneuverability to avoid the collision. There is no justification for running over another surfer.)
  • Tip: Never ditch your board! You are always better to hold tight to your board because it will help you pop up to the surface when duck diving bigger waves. Plus, think safety, there may be someone behind you and they could get seriously hurt by your board.

Surf Advice: Surf Etiquette

If you are planning to start surfing your first step should be to take a surfing lesson at an Irish Surfing / Surfing GB Approved Surf Club, School or Adventure Centre. Here you will be introduced to the sport in a safe environment, you will be given all the information, advice and basic skills required to get started. Your progress will be much quicker, the experience more enjoyable and you will be more likely to reach your full potential as a surfer if you take this route into the sport.

This may seem like common sense but as with all watersports you should only surf if you can swim and you should never surf alone. Learn to observe the ocean so you can identify rips, wind changes and other hazards. This will reduce the risk and will help you become a better surfer.

If you are unfamiliar with a break check with local surfers. Ensure that the waves you are surfing are of a size and power suitable to your ability. Do not get too confident. Stick to beaches until you become an experienced surfer. A novice paddling out at a reef is not only a danger to themselves but to all the other surf users around them.

Make sure your equipment, especially your leash, is in good order. If you are a novice you may want to consider using a foam board for your own safety. Other safety equipment such as helmets and nose guards are available. It is much easier to spot a brightly colored wetsuit or surfboard at sea in the event of you requiring rescuing.

If you do find yourself in difficulty it is important to stay calm and always stay with your board. Your board will act as a flotation device. If you get caught in a rip do not try to paddle against it, this will only tire you out and get you nowhere. Paddle across the rip and you will quickly find yourself out of difficulty.

When you 'wipe out' do not come to the surface too soon, allow your board time to land and come to the surface with your hands over your head. When paddling out, always check behind you before abandoning your board.

Never 'drop in' on another surfer. 'Dropping in' is taking off on a wave in front of someone who has right of way. The surfer nearest the peak or breaking part of the wave has priority or right of way. When two surfers catch the same wave the surfer closest to the pocket or breaking part of the wave, has priority so the other surfer should pull off the wave.

Be aware of other water users and always show respect for other surfers regardless of kraft (kayaks, bodyboards, bodysurfers and all other surfers). Above all, keep a good attitude. Be friendly in the water. Apologize if you make a mistake.

Surf Advice: Respect

Learn to respect the 'line up', an informal line of surfers, particularly at 'point and reef breaks' where each surfer waits their turn with the surfer whose turn it is next sitting deepest. The line up can break down if one or more surfers consistently paddle inside those surfers waiting their turn. Such behaviour will cause the 'line up' to break down turning the session into a free for all.

Beachbreaks tend to feature multiple breaks with several take off areas therefore with more waves for everyone but even at beach breaks the line-up exists at each of the various peaks along the beach.

If you are surfing a peak where you have an option to go right or left you must communicate with other surfers in the line-up your preferred direction to avoid 'drop-ins' and unridden waves. At some breaks you may be able to paddle out into a position that gives immediate access to the inside take-off position, you should not use this artificial inside positioning to jump the queue. Doing this is poor etiquette and will lead to bad feeling among your fellow surfers. Instead, either let the surfers already sitting and waiting to take the waves they want until the line up is clear, or paddle wide to the outside and move into position along with everyone else.

Surf Advice: Surfers Ear

Anybody surfing for a long time in Ireland should wear ear plugs to prevent "Surfers Ear" or "Diffuse Exostosis", this is a bone growth in the ear canel caused by long-term exposure to cold water temperatures. It eventually blocks the ear canel reducing hearing, causing continuous ear infections and other problems, and can lead to exentise corrective surgery.

Various ear plug solutions can be purchased online at or at the Troggs Shop, Main Street, Portrush.