There’s a lot more to surfing than just riding waves. To be a decent surfer you need to have plenty of knowledge about different factors that influence a surfing session. One such factor is the relationship between rideable waves and wind speed.
Any speed below 10 knots is fine for surfing, however, the ideal wind speed should be between 0-5 knots. Moreover, as the wind speed goes higher than 10 knots, riding waves becomes progressively difficult as surfers find it hard to balance themselves on their surfboards.
In surfing, there are different types of winds that surfers should know about if they want to enhance their surfing experience. Moreover, surfers should also know the drawbacks of surfing in stronger winds and how to deal with them to prevent themselves from getting injured.
- Ideal Wind Speed for Surfing
- Drawbacks of Strong Wind Speed
- Different Wind Types for Surfing
- How To Surf When Strong Winds are Blowing
- Learn How To Read a Surf Report
- Frequently Asked Questions
Ideal Wind Speed for Surfing
Amateur surfers are often not aware of what the ideal wind speed for surfing is. This can prove quite dangerous for them if they go out to surf when there is a strong wind blowing. Therefore, as a beginner, you must learn which wind conditions will provide an optimal surfing experience and which wind conditions will not.
Ideal Wind Speed
As mentioned earlier, a mild offshore breeze that is approximately around 5 knots, or 6 miles per hour is ideal for your surfing sessions. Generally, the lower the wind speed is the better it is for surfers.
Moreover, as long as the wind speed remains within 10 knots, beginners will not face much difficulty in riding the waves. However, anything more than that will prevent surfers from paddling to waves smoothly.
|0-5 Knots||Excellent surfing conditions with stable waves|
|5-10 knots||Normal surfing condition|
|10-20 knots||Less stable waves, more difficult to balance yourself|
Drawbacks of Strong Wind Speed
Although you can surf even when the wind is around 10-20 knots, it becomes incredibly difficult to paddle and ride waves in these conditions. Strong offshore wind can make the entire surfing experience difficult for beginners by forcing them deep into the sea.
Why Strong Wind is not Ideal for Amateur Surfers
Among the many reasons of strong winds posing serious difficulties for beginners, one is that it makes waves incredibly difficult to read. This is because strong winds can cause waves to break unpredictably and makes them lumpy, and difficult to ride for novice surfers.
It is easy to become demotivated after not being able to catch a single wave even after hours of trying. Therefore, new surfers should avoid surfing in severe windy conditions, and, if possible, prefer to surf on days when a mild wind is blowing.
Different Wind Types for Surfing
There are three different categories that you can classify wind into: offshore, onshore and cross-shore winds. These winds play a huge role in determining the structure of the waves and can greatly influence your surfing experience.
Surfers ideally look for winds that are flowing from the shore to the sea or the ocean. Waves that fit into this category are known as offshore winds, and their primary function is to delay the breaking of the waves.
Mildly blowing offshore winds are excellent for surfing since they help give the wave a proper shape and make it break uniformly across the surface. You can spot these winds easily, as they often cause large white sprays of water to flow out into the sea from the top of the wave.
However, if the offshore wind is too strong, then that can cause a problem while surfing as you will be required to use more energy to paddle against the wind to reach the wave.
Winds that are coming from the ocean to the shoreline are known as onshore winds. These waves do not have a good reputation among most surfers because of their ability to cause waves to tumble a lot earlier, which makes them less steep and more difficult to surf.
However, it is still possible to surf when onshore winds are blowing, especially if you’re looking to try or practice airs. This is because these winds allow the surfboard to stick to the feet of the surfer instead of blowing it away.
Cross shore winds are the ones that blow across the beach and the sea, parallel to the shoreline. These winds are the worst to surf in as they cause waves to break in unusual patterns, making them difficult to read for surfers.
Moreover, these winds cause a rippling effect at the peak of the wave, which distorts their shape and structure, causing the wave to break earlier then expected.
How To Surf When Strong Winds are Blowing
Strong winds often lead to surfers losing their balance and falling off their surfboards while trying to catch a wave. If you cannot wait for the wind to mellow down, then here are some tips that you can follow to make sure you enjoy your surfing session despite the strong gusts of wind smacking you in the face.
Find the Correct Balance On the Surfboard
Balance is essential for surfing safely in windy conditions but it takes a lot of effort to find the correct balance on your surfboard while riding a wave. One wrong move can cause you to lose your stability and in some scenarios might even lead you to get wiped out from the board.
To prevent this from happening you should try to achieve a lower center of gravity by bending your knees. This will help you find the correct equilibrium while keeping yourself stable and secure on your board.
Choosing the Correct Wave
Surfing in windy conditions is not a simple task, but your problems can get amplified if you choose the incorrect breaking wave to surf on. There are three different kinds of breaking waves: spilling, plunging, and surging waves. Each of these waves have unique properties that determine whether or not it is possible to ride them.
These waves form when their crest collides with their front. This commonly occurs when the floor of the water body has a continuous slope. This, as a result, causes the body of the wave to steepen considerably as it approaches the shore.
Although these waves break for a longer time than other waves, strong winds can often make them become inconsistent. Nevertheless, these types of waves are still ideal for both new and experienced surfers and are incredibly fun to surf on.
Plunging waves are prevalent in areas where the tidal conditions are at their extremes or where strong winds are common. These waves have a much steeper peak than normal waves and when they collapse, they produce a lot more energy as well. Nonetheless, these waves are very dangerous and if you see a plunging wave, you’re better off avoiding it.
Surging waves emerge when steep surges of water strike the shoreline. These waves move at tremendous speeds, especially in windy conditions. Furthermore, these waves can be lethal, since they generate a powerful backwash. As a result, not only surfers but also those relaxing on the beach should avoid these waves.
Learn How To Read a Surf Report
The wind isn’t the only factor that you need to consider when going out to surf. One must also keep in mind the height of the swell, its direction, and the period of the wave. You can find all these things in a surf report available on the beach for a particular day.
A surf report is fairly simple to read if you know what you’re looking at. It contains graphical and visual images of the weather pattern at any moment. It essentially tells us how the waves will break at a particular surfing location. Regardless of whether you’re a beginner or an expert, you must learn to read this report to avoid disasters in the sea.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Surf In Windy Conditions?
It is possible to surf in windy conditions as long as the speed of the wind remains below 15 knots. On speeds any more than that you will have a hard time trying to stabilize yourself on your surfboard.
How do I Identify Offshore Winds in a Surf Report?
To see which direction the wind is blowing, all you have to do is compare the wind arrow to the direction you want to surf in. You can identify offshore winds by checking where the wind arrow is pointing towards. If it points from the land to the sea, then you are likely to encounter offshore winds.
Does Strong Wind Produce Larger Waves?
Strong winds are a key factor in producing larger waves. This is because water waves receive energy from the wind. Therefore, the stronger the wind is the larger the swell and size of the wave will be.
The speed of the wind plays a huge role in determining whether you’ll have a good surfing experience or not. While it is possible to surf in strong and windy conditions, for beginners it is always recommended that they only ride waves when a mild wind is blowing. However, If you chose to surf during a strong breeze, you must adhere to certain guidelines and tips to ensure your safety.
I’m an aged skateboarder and I still shred responsibly. I started skateboarding 25 years ago but also love surfing, snowboarding, or anything that involves a board.