Surfing 101

O’Neill Wetsuits FALL 2008

by Robb on October 15, 2008

Seasons Change and So Do You
By Brianne Chavez

Summer is coming to end and we are fast approaching wetsuit season. Finding that perfect suit may seem like a daunting task, with so many styles and brands to choose from. Here, at South Coast, we offer a variety of different brands, ensuring that you will find the best fit at a price you can afford. O’Neill offers a wide range of wetsuits that work for surfers at all levels. By highlighting the key features of each suit, I hope to give you a better understanding of them. So, when you go shopping for your new suit this season, you will already have an idea of what you want.O'Neill Hammer 3/2 Wetsuit at South Coast Surf Shops

Beginning with the entry-level wetsuits, we have the Hammer. This suit is great for beginners because it’s a great bargain. This season’s Hammer features O’Neill’s exclusive high-stretch neoprene, Fluid Flex. Fluid Flex is a new category of high stretch neoprene that is extremely soft and lightweight. This suit is 100% Fluid Flex with Kevlar kneepads and TFX Torso Flex. The TFX Torso Flex is an element that places the stretchiest neoprene in the lower back panel to increase flexibility. [click to continue…]

How to Choose the Right Surfboard

by Robb on September 17, 2008

By Robb Bailey

If you’re just learning to surf, the kind of board you use is second to learning the ins and outs of the sport. At South Coast Surf Shops we get a lot of beginners looking to purchase the right surfboard straight away, with no real experience in the water. The best approach is to get your feet wet before you pull out your credit card, using as many surfboard types as you can in order to learn what your style preference is.

If you can ride a handful of demo boards or borrowed boards before you buy, all the better. Once you’ve gotten a handle on the sport and the handling abilities of different surfboards on a wave, you will come to understand the art of choosing your perfect surfboard. Then you can make the investment of buying a surfboard that you can be happy riding every day.South Coast Noserider Longboard Surfboard

First things first: be sure to start learning with a bigger board. Most beginners learn how to surf on a long board, a board that is at least nine feet long. Any board longer than nine feet will be much easier to learn on because it will be much more comfortable to lie down on, much faster to paddle out to the break, and much easier to catch a wave. With time, practice, and patience, you will be standing up on your long board and catching waves in no time. At that point, you may consider a smaller board.

Let’s talk a bit more about the advantages of the long board. The factors that allow you to catch a wave are the size of the wave, the velocity of the wave, and the quality of your board. The key for beginners is to not get a board that is too short or too narrow. You will be much happier starting out on a long, wide board, as you will catch more waves and get more practice standing up. You’ll have far less inclination to lug a heavy board around with you, so find a board that is light enough to carry around. The thickness of the board doesn’t matter as much, but try to get a board that will fit comfortably under your arm or one that you can actually carry for at least two blocks. [click to continue…]

By Robb Bailey

Surf wax was designed to make the top surface of surfboards tacky. Although wax is a great way to keep the deck of a surfboard stickified, maintenance is a bit of a task (lazy surfers, right?). Wax requires constant re-application, and after a few sessions in the water it’s usually time to strip the old stuff off and start fresh. A more permanent solution is available with the use of deck grip.

Using deck grip or surf wax on a surfboard are equally effective methods to getting the tacky factor that surfers look for. In fact, most shortboarders use a traction pad for their rear foot and wax for the chest/front foot area, utilizing a combination of both. But there really is no “correct” or “right” way to get your board set up. It’s a personal choice, and every surfer will choose a slightly different setup depending on preference.

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Selecting the Right Surfboard Leash

By Robb Bailey

Although often overlooked, matching the right surfboard leash with the day’s conditions and environment can make or break your session.

The purpose of a surfboard leash is two-fold:

  1. To keep the board from getting washed into shore.FCS Surfboard Leash
  2. To keep the board from possibly injuring someone else.

Most surfers stick to one type of board and leash setup for everyday use. For the most part, one type of leash will do just fine. But the leash you use to surf a California beach break in 2-3 foot conditions is not the same leash you would use to surf 8-10 foot island waves with a reef below.

Different surfing conditions, surf locations, and board sizes will determine what leash to choose. Here are the general features that determine what type of leash to select:

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By Jody Wood

Maybe you’ve heard him on the radio, or read his reports online. Maybe you’ve met him at South Coast Windansea, or maybe he’s paddled right by you and you had no idea who he was. He is Eric Huffman, also known as “Bird”.

Bird grew up in San Diego and has more than 40 years of local surf knowledge under his belt, and unlike a lot of locals, he doesn’t mind sharing some of it. Maybe not all of it, but he kicks down enough information to help local surfers make an informed decision about when and where to paddle out.

Bird does the San Diego area surf reports on, as well as the FM 94.9 Authentic Surf Report three times a day, seven days a week. He puts his 4-plus decades of local wave riding experience to use every day when crafting his reports. One thing’s for sure though, you won’t hear him naming specific spots, which is something a lot of us can appreciate.

Bird’s relationship with Sean Collins and Surfline goes back more than twenty years. Collins is the chief forecaster and president of Surfline, which formed in 1985, as a public surf forecast via telephone. Surfline has come a long way since then. It merged with in 2000, which greatly increased content, surfcams, and its online store.

“I started working for Surfline as an area reporter. This meant that everyday at dawn I had to check my desgnated spots, and call in the report,” said Bird, about the early days with Surfline. His days of dawn patrols are behind him for the most part, but he has his own team of reporters that call him with their localized reports, and all of that information goes into his reports.

“My wife Amy needs to be at work by 6 a.m., which means she’s out the door by 5:30. By the time I get the kids ready and drop them off at school it’s nearly 8 a.m.. I’ve found 8 to 10 in the morning to be a great window for me to surf,” said Bird. “Dawn patrollers are off to work and partiers aren’t awake yet,” he added.
Bird isn’t new to the routine of radio surf reporting either. He did the surf report for the original KPRI and KGB throughout the seventies and into the early eighties.

“FM 94.9 was a new station that wanted to build itself around good core music and an authentic sound,” said Bird. “Nothing better than an authentic surf report to add to that,” he added. Bird explained that he agreed to do the surf report for 94.9 only if they allowed him to do it the way he wanted to, and they had no problem with that.

Looking back at his years of reporting on one his life’s passions, Bird went on to say, “It’s been a long road since the days when people wanted to kill surf reporters until when people can’t live without them.”

To get the skinny on what’s going on with the surf in San Diego, check out and look for Bird’s online reports there. You can also catch him on the radio three times daily on FM 94.9 at 7:20 a.m., 2:20 p.m., and 8:20 p.m.