Sports can be dangerous and in fact, most contact sports are. Whether you are playing football or wrestling, you can get injured. Even sports like tennis and golf can be dangerous. Then surely, a sport like surfing which involves riding a huge wave, is very dangerous? It is, but the degree of danger varies with the circumstances, as it does with most athletes and sports.
Let us examine surfing and its elements, to figure out how dangerous of a sport it is.
Environmental Danger – Rocks, Reefs and Bacteria
There are many things to worry about when going out surfing. The first thing that comes to mind is the water underneath your board. If there are rocks, then you need to be especially careful in case there is a wipeout, meaning that you fall off your board. If there are rocks below, that can end up being deadly.
Reefs can also be problematic, but knowing to avoid them is key. Always look at the color of the water. Dark green or red water means that there is bacteria in the water and that is not something you want to be involved in. If you do end up in water with bacteria, make sure that there is a lifeguard tower prior to going in the water.
It might not seem like an important thing when you are out there, having fun, but surfers are at high risk of skin burn and even worse things, due to a lot of sun exposure. While they are on their boards, surfers are not only exposed to the sun, but also its reflection in the water, which makes things worse.
Having a high SPF sunblock is very important, preferably a mineral one, since you will be around water most of the time. Consider a good wetsuit, but most surfers should have those, particularly if they plan on spending lots of time in the water.
The People Factor
Obviously, beginners will be in most danger, unless they are on a beginner-level spot, also known as a lineup. Not all lineups are meant for beginners. There are various levels of engagement when surfing. Try not to overcrowd a lineup, nor go to a lineup above your level.
Make sure to pay attention to other people and to leave enough room for others to manoeuvre, in case something happens. Be especially careful if children are playing around the lineup or break. Communicate with people prior to getting on your board and catching a wave.
Personal Skill and Knowledge
Out of all the practitioners, upper level beginners tend to be the most overconfident, though that depends on the person, really. Surfing is a dangerous sport, but if you have years of knowledge and are familiar with certain spots and lineups, you will know what kind of wave is coming your way.
Not all people have this experience and in order to get it, they have to pay attention and listen to others. In Hawaii, there is a very interesting warning when large waves are about to be around which goes something like “if you’re in doubt, don’t go out”.
Primarily, it is the surfer’s own responsibility to care about their health, by knowing where and when to surf, and when not to.
Like most sports, surfing can be dangerous, but all of that depends on skill, knowledge and circumstances.