Once you find a kayak you would be well advised to take a surf class. You can go out and “play” in the surf on your own, but unless you grew up surfing, you’ll find it difficult to find the waves, catch them, and then stay on for a pleasurable ride. Learning to surf is not appropriate in crowded breaks. Beginners need to practise where they will not bother other surfers. Also, if you take out an enclosed kayak, make sure you have a “combat” roll. You will most definitely have ample opportunities to use that roll in the surf zone.
Besides teaching specific surf skills, a surf class will go into detail on how to read the waves, where to get the information (websites, weather forecasts, etc.), and what part of the break will be best for those conditions. Not all breaks are good on the same day and the same time. For instance, there is a great difference in the wave action at a given spot depending on swell direction. Knowing which direction the beach faces will save you driving to beaches with no waves.
There are several outfitters that offer surf classes in Northern California. Refer to the Outfitter Links to see a listing of outfitters that offer instruction. Some of these outfitters use sit-on-tops, some use closed-deck boats and require an eskimo roll.
Note: There is a distinct difference between surf classes and surf zone classes. The latter are primarily designed to teach launching and landing a sea kayak safely through the surf zone. A prerequisite for many surf classes is a surf zone class.
The BASK library has the following videos available free to BASK members:
- Surf Kayaking Fundamentals, John Lull, 1995
- BASK Surf Clinic Lecture, John Lull
- BASK Surf Clinic, Montara Beach, Andy Cominos, 1993
Numerous videos are available for purchase in stores, on the Internet, or directly from filmmakers.