surfing lessons

Almost all of the people you will see pictured below had never tried surfing before this lesson.

Once or twice or occasionally three times a year, the De Anza College Outdoor Club offers surfing lessons by professional instructors (usually at Cowell’s beach in Santa Cruz). Soft long board and wetsuit rental included. Almost everyone who takes the lesson has never surfed before and has a blast. The date / cost of the current adventure, and how to find us to sign up, (and take the swim test) will be posted at Outdoor Club Coming Attractions

In recent years we did not find enough people who knew how to swim well enough to go
(or who had enough money) to be able to get the group rate,
so we now are leaving this info for people and will occasionally look into doing the lessons again when people express interest.

girl seven surfing oct 2003: four girls surfing oct 2003:

Please note that the rental wetsuit (included with the lesson) goes on with the zipper in the back.

We’ve done this at least yearly for over ten years. The instruction is excellent and a lot of laughs. We start with a full lesson on the beach, including surfing right-of-way, etiquette, surf break awareness, wave formation, and practice standing up/proper stance on the boards.

lecture oct 2003: more group pract 2006 spr surf: surfing practice: We practice standing up on boards on the beach before we go out.

surfing practice on beach june 2008:

Then we carry the boards down towards Steamer’s Lane (we stay where the waves are more beginners sized),

teamwork carrying surfboards: carrying boards out:

put on the leash, (the leash for the surfboard goes on your ankle that will be towards the back of the board when you stand up. If you lead with your left foot you are normal; if you lead with your right foot you are ‘goofy-footed’)

putting on leash oct 2003:

and paddle out.

cowells beach surfing: shore in background, ocean with surfers on a set of waves

The instructors, about one per five or six students for our group event, go out in the water with us and help people, especially with the timing of when to paddle and when to stand up. You will be on your board in position, the instructor will see when the wave is right and tell you to start paddling and then yell when it is time to attempt to stand up.

three action figures surf 2006:

Timing is everything and it takes a while to get a feel for the moving wave. If you try to stand up too soon you can just miss a ride:

surf may 05 just missed this wave: surf may 05 a little late:

Yes, you will fall off the board numerous times, or shall we say, have a minor loss of balance,
so will everybody else.

two wipeouts Oct 2003: girlwipeoutoct2003 120 pixels: wipeout four spr 2006:

Some people really don’t stand up and surf, but everyone at least gets a few rides kneeling.
If you can’t figure out on your own how to stand up on the board, some of the instructors are able to balance on a moving surfboard while helping you to stand up on your surfboard:

surf lesson help standing:

In the photo below you can see people waiting for a wave in the background, one student standing and surfing, one trying to get up, some paddling back after a ride, and one of the instructors (wearing a hat) with a student, helping them to stand.

wide pic surf may 05:

While the waves are quiet for a moment, people wait and talk, and in this picture, one practiced standing up on the board with an instructor helping him:

waiting and practicing for the next wave:

“When I moved out to California that was something I really wanted to do.”

“I could do this forever!”

Marty John Michael surf:

“I didn’t think it would be this much fun.” “Even the wipeouts were fun.”

Tertia and other girl surf: one up one wipeout surf Oct 2003:

“Before I was very anxious. I’d wake up and look at the calendar and it says it’s only 21 days until surfing.”

Cecilia Lee surf:

“I felt like I was on top of the world.”

To participate in the surfing lessons you must pass a swim test: with a lifeguard or swim instructor assigned by the Outdoor Club watching you, jump into a corner of the diving well (deep pool), before you surface swim two full body lengths underwater, surface and tread water (not a flutter kick) for thirty seconds, then swim a minimum 35 yards head-up crawl or head-up breaststroke (swim along the side across the pool and back to where you started) (all this without stopping and/or holding on to the side of the pool).

Instead of taking the swim test, you can provide a current Red Cross or YMCA lifeguard card or scuba certification or a note from a De Anza swim instructor that shows you are enrolled in a deep water swim class (not deep water running) when you sign up to prove that you can swim.

Thinking about going on this adventure? You will have more fun (and be safer) if you read all of this webpage, and read a sample trip agreement in advance of coming to sign up, so things can go faster.

To better be able to find the lesson, use Google Maps to look for Cowell Beach, Santa Cruz and print yourself a map.


Times to take the swim test (at the De Anza pool, ask for Mary Donahue) and sign up for the surfing lesson will be announced at Outdoor Club Coming Attractions

More pictures are at:

wipeouts from the De Anza Outdoor Club surfing lessons

successful surfers from the De Anza College surfing lessons

April 2006 surfing page one

April 2006 surfing page two

Surfing Oct. 2003 photo page one

Surfing Oct. 2003 photo page two

Surfing pictures

surfing lesson pictures May 2005

two birds walking on beach: two birds walking on beach

Carpools are arranged among the students going on the trips, for info go to Carpool FAQs

Road trip advice and etiquette

Quit being paranoid about sharks

“Champions of Surf & Sand: Surfrider is a community of everyday people who passionately protect our playground – the ocean, waves, and beaches that provide us so much enjoyment.”

The CDC has a before you go to the beach brochure: