Surf Like a Girl: The Surfer Girl's Ultimate Guide to Paddling Out, Catching a Wave, and Surfing with Aloha

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9781400082728: Surf Like a Girl: The Surfer Girl's Ultimate Guide to Paddling Out, Catching a Wave, and Surfing with Aloha
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Get in a Surfer State of Mind

Whether you live near the ocean or can only dream about being out in the water, you can achieve those sun-kissed locks and cheeks, that stellar physique, and the no-holds-barred spirit of the quintessential surfer girl. Get in the swim with this one-of-a-kind guide to all things surfer, which will answer your questions, including:

·How can you find a surf break that’s right for you?

·Why wear a leash and what does it mean to be goofy footed?

·How early in the morning do you really need to get out there?

·Can you surf without wrecking a fresh pedicure?

·What should you say to a hottie pulling a hang ten?

·How do you find a cute bikini that won’t fall off when you get worked in the water?

Surf Like a Girl covers all the basics: how to ride the waves, what to wear, safety and etiquette, and loads of advice for the landlocked surfer girl. It’s a perfect resource, whether you’re about to paddle out and catch a wave or you just want to look like you pulled a wicked cutback.

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About the Author:

Rebecca Heller is a Los Angeles–based film executive. She lives in Santa Monica, California, with a briefcase in one hand and a surfboard tucked under her other arm.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:


Getting Started

So you want to become a surfer? Right on. Here are the essentials to help you get started.

What to Wear: Be a Surfer Girl from the Inside Out

What surfers wear depends on the temperature of the water. In tropical climates you may see surfers in nothing but bathing suits. Some surfers will cover up with rash guards and board shorts to protect their skin and swimsuits from the sun and board rash. Wet suits in varying degrees of warmth are worn as the water temps dip.


Start with generous amounts of sunscreen. According to dermatologists, a sun protection factor (SPF) of 15 doesn't cut it anymore. Use waterproof sunscreens with an SPF of 45 or higher with UVA and UVB protection. Be sure to apply liberally at least twenty minutes before you go out in the sun and reapply it every hour or two. (Wear sunscreen not only when you are surfing, but also anytime you are out playing in the sun, even on overcast days.) Sun can damage your skin and cause premature aging and wrinkles-ew! Or worse, it can cause skin cancer. While you may want to look twenty-one at seventeen, you don't want to look forty at twenty-five!

HINT: Don't forget a sun-protective lip balm!


Wear a comfortable and secure bathing suit. The ocean can throw you around as if you're in a washing machine, so skimpy tops and loose bottoms can come off in a hurry. Getting "worked" is embarrassing enough. Coming up exposed would only add insult to injury. When you're as good as, say, Rochelle Ballard, you can think about wearing a sexy bikini when you paddle out, but trust me, until then, look for athletic swim suits, such as full pieces, tank suits, and boy-cut shorts. Remember you are going to be doing athletic activities when you surf, so make sure your suit has secure ties or hooks and not too many extras, like bows or beads, that could rub or catch on your board. Choosing a stylish suit is fine. Just make sure it fits properly so it doesn't give the boys a peek. Also, it's a good idea to look for suits with a UPF (ultraviolet protection factor) of 50 or higher.


I strongly suggest wearing a rash guard over your bathing suit. A rash guard is either a long- or short-sleeved shirt made mainly of Lycra that does what its name implies. Rubbing against the wax on your board can leave little red bumps on your perfect skin, or it can pull at the fabric of your suit. A rash guard worn over your swimsuit will protect your skin from board rash and keep your suit looking new, as well as protect you from being exposed when a rough wave threatens to separate you from you bathing suit. Worn under a wet suit, a rash guard protects you from wet-suit seams that may irritate your skin. And a rash guard with UPF will further protect your skin from the sun. Rash guards cost a little more than a regular shirt, from $30 to $50, but they are well worth the price! You can pick one up at any surf shop. If you don't have a rash guard, a tight-fitting cotton T-shirt will do a similar job, but it will retain more water and it won't dry out as quickly.

HINT: Board rash is a common condition. Exposed skin rubbing against your board and wax when you are getting up and lying down can cause your skin to become red and raw (most often on your thighs, stomach, and inner arm), and you may get little red bumps or cuts. Wet suits, rash guards, and board shorts will protect you from board rash.


Like rash guards, board shorts protect your skin from rashes and the sun and keep your bathing suit in good shape. And they are a great addition to the surfer girl's wardrobe! Since they're multifunctional, you can wear them around town, to the beach, or in the water. Board shorts look like regular shorts except that they are made of a synthetic superfast-drying material (usually polyester), so they are lightweight and durable. Knee-length board shorts offer a little more protection from rashes and the sun than the shorter version, but the choice is up to you. Board shorts can be found at surf shops and beyond (you can probably find them in your local department store). They run about the same price as rash guards. Make sure to look for shorts with Velcro and/or lace ups, since you will be lying on your stomach while paddling. You don't want lumpy buttons nagging at you while you're surfing (and if they're metal, they might rust).


Most of the year, however, you will be donning a wet suit. Snug-fitting wet suits prevent heat loss as your body warms the water that seeps into the suit. Wet suits are essential as the water cools in nonsummer months, and they are a must year-round for those who chill easily. You can rent a wet suit your first couple of times on the water (when you rent a board), but I suggest making a wet suit one of your first surfing investments.

HINT Bathing suits can be worn underneath your wet suit. However, ones with lumpy ties tend to rub and irritate your skin. Or you can wear your wet suit solo. The only plus for wearing your bathing suit underneath is that it's easier to change in the parking lot. Rare will be the surf spot with a changing room. You will become really good at getting in and out of clothes next to your parked car, and having a bathing suit under your wet suit can help you avoid embarrassing parking lot peeks.

Wet suit technology has come a long way. Wet suits are now thinner, have more elasticity, and they keep you warmer than they did in the past. There are a few wet suit styles, but the most common are full and spring suits. A full suit has long sleeves and full-length legs for cool- to cold-water surfing. It should cover all the way to your wrists and ankles. A spring suit has short sleeves and short legs, and it's for the summer months or more tropical waters. It keeps you slightly warmer than just a swimsuit alone. When you try on a wet suit it should feel tight but allow you a full range of motion. There should be some give to the material, but it shouldn't bag in any spots.

Wet suits come in a variety of thicknesses, which are measured in millimeters. Full suits can have different thicknesses for the center and extremities of your body. For example, a 3/2 is three millimeters thick in the chest and back and two millimeters in the legs and arms. A 3/2 is a good suit for water temperatures in the 60s, like Southern California's spring and fall. A 4/3 would be more appropriate in colder climates when water temps dip into the 50s, like winter in northern Florida through the Carolinas. Spring suits only have one thickness. (Usually 2 millimeters.)

Recent models are more elastic in the shoulders, so they are easier to paddle in than their more antiquated versions. The thicker the suit, the more fabric you are fighting when you paddle, so if you need a thicker suit, go ahead and invest in one that advertises good flexibility in the arms. Girls usually chill more easily than the guys, so don't feel bad if your suit is thicker than your guy friends'; it's all about practicality.

An added benefit of wearing a wet suit year-round is that it protects your skin from the sun. You'll get a lot of color sitting on the water for hours at a time, and you'll want to protect your skin as much as possible so that you keep it healthy!

HINT: Wet suits for surfing always zip up in the back. Period.


Wet suits will cost you anywhere from $100 to $400. As the water gets colder, you will realize what an important investment a wet suit can be. Take good care of your wet suit and make it last longer by rinsing it out with cool, clean water after every use and hanging it out to dry. Do not hang your wet suit in direct sunlight. Turn it inside out and instead of putting it on a hanger, drape it over a railing or on a laundry rack. Be sure to dry your suit completely after each use to discourage bacteria growth. When your wet suit gets that not-so-fresh feeling, you can wash it in a bucket with a wet suit rinse, which you can purchase at most surf shops, or try a homemade white-vinegar rinse (mix vinegar with three parts water). It's smelly but will kill off bacteria.

HINT: Most wet suit manufacturers will guarantee their stitching for the life of your suit. Check that out when you purchase one, since seams do tend to come out after a lot of use and some companies will repair them for free!


As the water starts getting colder, you may want to consider investing in a pair of booties. They're kind of like thick rubber socks for surfing and they'll keep your toes warm all winter long. There are two kinds: split-toe and a solid (round-toe). The split-toe bootie gives you more control on the board but has the disadvantage of occasionally snagging your leash in between your big and second toe. The full bootie has a simple round toe. Split-toe and round-toe booties are mostly a matter of your personal comfort. A perk of booties is that pedicures are often ruined by walking on the sand or rocks, and booties will protect that perfect polish job!

Care for your booties the same way you do your wet suit. Because they are thick and don't allow for good air flow, they take a while to dry and can get stinky fast. Try the white vinegar trick mentioned earlier. It works!


Hoods and gloves are also useful in cold-water situations. Hoods fit snugly and keep your head and ears warm when the temps drop below the mid-50s. They are usually made of an elastic material like neoprene (similar to your wetsuit). Hoods cover your head, neck, and chin and either tuck into, lie on top of, or snap into your wet suit. Wet suits that are 4/3 millimeters or thicker are usually available with a built-in or removable hood. More compact hoods, called caps, cover your head and ears and attach under your chin. Gloves, also usually made of neoprene and...

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Rebecca Heller
Published by Three Rivers Press (2005)
ISBN 10: 1400082722 ISBN 13: 9781400082728
New Softcover Quantity Available: 1
Irish Booksellers
(Portland, ME, U.S.A.)

Book Description Three Rivers Press, 2005. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M1400082722

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