The first thing you learn when you start surfing is not only how to stand up and catch the wave, but also how to protect yourself in a difficult situation and how to avoid hurting other surfers in the water. It is really important to have a basic understanding of the safety elements connected to surfing.
Your surfboard is a very important part in the whole wonderful experience of surfing. It is not only your “weapon” but your “safety belt”. Whenever it is in your control, be sure that you will be fine. You’ve probably already heard the experienced surfers telling you to abandon your surfboard only if there is no one around and waves are too big for duck diving or turtle turn/Eskimo roll.
The bail dive (letting your surfboard) should be your last resort when facing with an oncoming wave. You should always try to do everything to avoid separating from your surfboard. When you have it in your hands you easily go back to the surface and avoid losing the breathe. After one big wave, there are usually 2-3 more bigger oncoming waves so you avoid getting tired while struggling to fetch your surfboard. However, bailing your surfboard is sometimes the safest thing to do. But don’t forget, if you do that and there are people around you, there is a great chance that you will hurt someone. The leg rope/leash attached to your foot will probably prevent the loss of your surfboard, but it also means that the board’s fins can hurt you or any of your fellow surfers. Watch your head and at least warn the others that you are bailing your surfboard. When you bail your surfboard, plummet yourself into the wave and try to go as deep as possible. Time seems to expand under water, so it is better to focus on staying relaxed. Think about anything other than how long you have been under water. When coming back to the surface, break the surface of the water carefully. Keep an eye out for both your surfboard and anyone else in the water who might not see you.
Bailing is not very safe method. You lose direct control of your surfboard. And when you lose control of your board, you start panicking and it endangers your safety. Use this technique only when it is safe to do so.
Every time you go for a surf check, take a few moments to observe. Is it crowded? Are there a lot of beginners or advanced surfers in the water? Are the waves suitable for your level of surfing? Is the current too strong for your fitness level and paddle power? Just take a minute and think about these things before you paddle out. If you are unsure about anything and feel uncomfortable regarding certain things (crowd, current, etc.) either give it a miss or find an uncrowded spot or smaller waves away from the pack.