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OUTDOORS: Ventura County

Small Is Better for Beginners

June 12, 1997|JANE HULSE

If you're adventurous, you can grab a surfing friend and head for the beach. Here are a few pointers, gleaned from veterans.

* Start small: Don't look for the beach with the biggest waves where the best surfers congregate. Those waves are probably too daunting for a beginner. Look for ones in the 3-to-4-foot range. Faria Beach, north of Ventura, is a good spot.

* Safety: Bring a wetsuit and don't go alone.

* Practice: On the sand, draw an outline of the surfboard with your finger. Then practice that crucial move where you spring from your stomach to your feet.

"It's one quick motion," said Shawn Kelly, an engineer who competes, works part-time as a lifeguard and is involved in the local Surfrider Foundation. "Repeat it 50 times."

* Caution: Don't head out for the breaking surf immediately. Practice in the white wash, the foamy stuff that follows the breaking surf. Don't expect too much. Just paddling out to the surf is an arm cruncher.

If you're lucky enough to get to your feet, it's likely to be only a half-second of glory before you're unceremoniously flicked off--a humbling, but exhilarating experience.

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