Surfing is all about freedom. Freedom to seek out and ride the perfect wave. Freedom to develop your skills to their peak. Freedom to risk and fail, then rise again. But to exercise that freedom wisely, to get the most out of surfing, takes training and practice. Lots of both.
The surfer will need to be fit, in order to meet the challenges that the freedom to pursue perfection brings. Strong swimming is the most obvious need, but newbies are often surprised by just how difficult mere paddling is at first. Your shoulders burn for days after your first attempt. Every muscle aches. But a good routine will minimize those start up pains and make them go away quickly.
Having the right gear helps. The right surfboard and good wax are an excellent beginning. Some locations will be better enjoyed if the surfer adds a few extras, like a wetsuit.
But surfing is more than a physical effort using the right equipment. It requires learning, lots of it. Waves can be chaotic. Winds and currents can shift in an instant. Judging how a wave will break takes experience. Whether this or that one is the right one to catch takes a keen eye. Those are all made easier by proper training from a good guide.
But even the best surfers are subject to any number of possible hazards in the water. Being pushed off the surfboard by a gnarly wave probably immediately comes to mind. But there are many unseen dangers, as well.
Underwater sealife is everywhere, along every coastline. In rare cases, it may be sharks looking for a meal. But that's the exception. The common creatures are much more of a concern for most surfers most of the time. Portuguese Man O'War, jellyfish, stingrays and others are more likely. Contact can be very painful. Even the sedentary creatures and features of the sea can be rough on a surfer. Underwater rocks, coral beds, sand reefs and others are typical in just about every surfing area.
Surfing brings with it a demand for physical and mental skills to stay upright and avoid hazards. But it also brings challenges to a surfer's character. Few surfers enjoy a solo surf on a private beach. That means sharing the sea is a common experience. Knowing the rules of surfing etiquette doesn't take much brain power. Following them does require a commitment of the will, though.
But when a surfer has become skilled in all these areas, they enter a world that has rewarded millions for hundreds of years. They pit those skills against an unforgiving ocean, but gain the rewards of sun and wave and the perfect ride.