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Vlog: Ongosa Summer Roady

by George Ross



This summer Team Ongosa embarked on a 6 week road trip adventure along the Atlantic coast of Europe down through France, Spain and Portugal, linking up with our excellent surf and kitesurf schools along the way.

We had over 100 meetings getting to know local instructors and the surf spots they work in even more, over the course of a 39 day trip, covering 4627 miles.

Watch the videos below to check out all the awesome people and places we encountered, and share our insight into some of Europe’s top surf spots. Be sure to keep checking back in here as we will be adding more episodes soon!

Episode 1: London to Lacanau

Our first destination on the inaugural Ongosa Summer Road Trip was Lacanau, on the west coast of France. One of France’s top surf destinations, Lacanau boasts some world famous waves just an hour’s drive from Bordeaux. The 14km beach has space for all comers, with loads of great instructors available for all.


Ongosa Summer Roadtrip - Episode 1 - London to Lacanau - YouTube
Ongosa Summer Roadtrip - Episode 2 - Lacanau to Biscarrosse - YouTube
Episode 2: Lacanau to Biscarrosse

After Lacanau, the next leg for Team Ongosa’s Matt and Megan was due south to Biscarrosse. Every July and August, surfers flock to Biscarrosse from all over Europe to enjoy great waves, the huge sandy beach and the atmosphere in the bars and restaurants.





Vlog: Ongosa Summer Roady
/
July 12, 2018
This summer Team Ongosa embarked on a 6 week road trip adventrue along the Atlantic coast of Europe down through France, Spain and Portugal, linking up with our excellent surf and kitesurf schools along the way - watch the videos.
Why You Need A Foam Surfboard If You're A Beginner
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July 6, 2018
Here we look at the what and why of foam surfboards, and explain how these are you second best tool to learn to surf, behind a qualified and experienced Ongosa surf instructor.
5 Best Kitesurfing Spots For Beginners
/
June 29, 2018
Help get your kitesurfing off the ground by taking on the help of a qualified instructor picking one of the best kitesurfing spots for beginners to learn, that is, one with the best conditions to help you progress.
Introduction To Surf Gear For Beginners
/
June 27, 2018
Thinking of taking to the waves for the first time and not sure what kind of surf gear to go for? This is your handy introduction to the kinds of surfboards and wetsuits you will need to get going.
Top 6 Surf Spots In Portugal
/
June 20, 2018
In May this year, we cruised the golden beaches ourselves to hand-pick our top 6 surf spots in Portugal. Enjoy!
Top 5 Places to Learn How to Surf in Europe
/
May 29, 2018
The best surf spots to learn in Europe - as voted for by our office.
Learn How To Surf
/
May 29, 2018
Learning how to surf isn't just about refining the smoothness of your pop-up technique
Take Ski Lessons In The UK First To Get The Most Out Of Your Holiday
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January 4, 2018
Take ski lessons in the UK, and you could save valuable time in resort, rather than spending days confined to a nursery slope.
Here's what snowboarder's should be doing when it's not winter...
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September 2, 2016
If you’re a good snowboarder, a crap snowboarder, or a wannabe snowboarder – we’ve found a solution for your summer away from the snow.

The post Vlog: Ongosa Summer Roady appeared first on Ongosa Blog.

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Why You Need A Foam Surfboard If You’re A Beginner

By George Ross



When starting to learn to surf, there is one thing you need to remember above all else – foam is your friend. Put simply – get a foam surfboard to make the learning process as quick and easy as possible.

Here we look at the what and why of foam surfboards, and explain how these are your second best tool to learn to surf, behind a qualified and experienced Ongosa surf instructor.

What is a Foam Surfboard?

Surfboards come in what can seem like a daunting number of shapes and sizes. But when broken down, you can learn what each type of board is best suited to, and that there is actually a need for all these variations.

One of these types, the foam surfboard, alternatively called a soft-top, foamie or softie, is a board with a top side made of exposed polyurethane or expanded polystyrene, (the kind of material your post-surf-beer cooler is made from, but much more dense). The base of the board is usually fibreglass, as with many other types of board.

Many boards have a foam core, for light weight and therefore increased buoyancy – having a board with a top made entirely from the material only means more buoyancy. Foam boards are traditionally larger than most and fit into the ‘longboard’ category, although foam shortboards are available.

Advantages of a Foam Surfboard

Size – a larger size of a foam surfboard allows you to paddle faster than a shorter board, making it easier to catch waves. As the saying goes – “you can’t ride what you can’t catch”. The more time you spend riding waves during a session, the more you will progress in that session.

Stability – a number of factors combine to produce stability; the larger size and foam construction means the board has more volume, resulting in better float. Stability simply means the board is easier to stay standing on, which means longer rides, getting the most practice time out of the waves you catch, and less falls (which can be dispiriting for beginners).

Falls, however, are an unavoidable part of the learning process. Falling into water is luckily a relatively painless process (swallowing a bit of salt water aside), but the risk of getting hurt comes from your board dinging you on the head or body after you loose control. With a foam surfboard there is far less chance of pain or injury than with a hard top board. It doesn’t stop with just soft tops – soft rails (the edge of the board) and soft fins are also a great idea for beginner surfers for the same reason.

Foam Surfboard Sizes

So you know what material is best for you as a beginner, now you just need to know the best shape of board to help you learn. As luck would have it, the boards which are most commonly built to beginner friendly dimensions, are (you guessed it) foam surfboards.

Whether you use a long or short foam surfboard should really be dictated by your ability level first, and your size second. Regardless of height or weight, a true beginner will always find it easiest to learn on a long foam surfboard of up to 9-10ft. Once you have mastered this, a foam shortboard of around 5ft – 7ft is a good intermediary step between your first foam longboard, and a hard top board such as a Malibu or Mini Mal. Foam shortboards are great for allowing for progression in your surfing, whilst still enjoying all the benefits of a foam surfboard.

An important thing to look for in a beginner board is not just the height or width, but also the volume of the board. Volume is calculated by multiplying length x width x height, which is easy for cubes, less easy for shaped surfboards. The old school way to measure volume was by dunking the surfboard in a bath and seeing how much water was displaced – this is why volume is still usually measured in cubic litres. These days with boards designed using computers, volumes are accurate and often displayed alongside boards, or more increasingly written on them.

The chart gives an indicator of the appropriate board size and volume for your weight.

Chart of Correct Foam Surfboard Sizes For Beginners


  • Your
    Weight Category
  • 45-63 kg
  • 63-72 kg
  • 72-81 kg
  • 81-90 kg
  • 90 kg >
  • Recommended Foam Surfboard Size
  • 9’2”-9’4”
  • 9’4”-9’6”
  • 9’6”-9’8”
  • 9’8”-10’
  • 10′ >
  • Recommended Foam Surfboard Volume
  • 36-44 cl
  • 44-50 cl
  • 50-57 cl
  • 57-63 cl
  • 63 cl >

Whilst the table is a good starting point, some surfboard companies such as Firewire also have a Surfboard Volume Calculator giving a more tailored suggestion of what volume of board best suits you, by taking a series of facts about you such as your exact weight and ability level.

Foam Surfboard Width

The length of your board is important, however width also needs to be taken into account as this is a key determining factor in volume. Having a wider board not only gives stability in terms of more volume, but also gives you more room to play with when learning to pop up and stand on your board. Foam surfboards which are at least 20 inches wide are best for beginners. Be sure that your board isn’t too wide to carry under your arm though, as dragging your board will damage it which will only make it harder to ride.

Fins on Foam Surfboards

Fins on the base of the board reduce sideways movement when standing. As a beginner, you will be learning to surf in a straight line, directly back to the beach, so more fins will help you stay on course. 1 or 3 fins gives good stability, and you will probably see this set-up on most foam boards, but you can see up to five on some beginner boards too.

We can go into much more detail on fins, but for beginner boards, the most simple thing to remember is that the more fin surface area, the more stability. The bigger the fin and the more ‘cant’ it has (the more it curves towards the tail of the board), the easier the board will be to control.

The downside is that greater surface area of fin increases drag, and slows the board down. When you progress you will be able to use boards with smaller fins which can generate more speed for you to play with.

After mastering the basics on a foam surfboard, you can start to try other board types. Only when you are catching at least 60% of the waves you paddle for should you move on to a smaller board, or when the size of your foam board is holding you back and limiting how much manoeuvrability you have in the wave. The more you try, the more you will understand each board, and the better your surfing on each will become, but there is no better place to start than your old foam friend.





More Articles from Ongosa

Why You Need A Foam Surfboard If You're A Beginner
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Here we look at the what and why of foam surfboards, and explain how these are you second best tool to learn to surf, behind a qualified and experienced Ongosa surf instructor.
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The post Why You Need A Foam Surfboard If You’re A Beginner appeared first on Ongosa Blog.

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5 Best Kitesurfing Spots For Beginners In Europe

By George Ross


When an adventure sport looks as impressive and high-octane as kitesurfing does to the uninitiated, it can be tough to know where to start when giving it a go for the first time. Well, aside from taking on the help of a qualified instructor, you can help yourself by picking one of the best kitesurfing spots for beginners, that is, one which has conditions which make it easier to learn.

Here are our recommendations of kitesurfing spots for beginners, which will most commonly be those with a calm, shallow teaching area such as a sheltered bay or lagoon. These areas also often have less in the way of obstacles around, namely swimmers, beach goers and other kitesurfers, giving you the space you need to progress. Big waves and deep water are best saved until you have advanced above true beginner level, as are gusty wind conditions – less strong, more consistent winds are more conducive to progression.



Best Kitesurfing Spots for Beginners in Spain

Tarifa

Seen by many as the best kitesurfing destination in Europe, Tarifa offers a 10km long bay with a wide beach and kitesurfing available across almost all of it. Sample some of Europe’s best kitesurfing, and some its best culture too, with amazing Mediterranean food and a vibrant nightlife waiting for you when you drag yourself out of the water.

With its location on the southern tip of Spain, Tarifa is blessed with consistent winds and warm water. There are some strong gusts to watch out for, especially the wind known to the locals as ‘Levante’ which blows in through the Strait of Gibraltar, mostly from July to October. It is useful for beginner kitesurfers to note that the wind is calmer in the morning, and builds into the afternoon windspeed of 8-19 knots.

Tarifa is a true centre of kitesurfing, meaning there are a large number of high quality instructors based there. All this combines to make Tarifa a firm favourite with beginner kitesurfers and advanced riders alike.


Average July Wind Speed – 13 knots
Average July Air Temp – 20°C
Average July Water Temperature – 23°C


Matt from Team Ongosa making the most of his time kitesurfing with a lesson from one of our experienced instructors in Tarifa, Spain


Best Kitesurfing Spots for Beginners in France

Lacanau

With the famous lake and a 14km beach which offers more than enough space to practice launching and landing in safety, Lacanau is a hotbed of wind and surf sports.

Only an hour from Bordeaux, with air temperatures which usually range from 18 to 24 degrees and water temperature of around 17 to 21 degrees, and the added benefit of being able to learn on flat water on the lake, this amazing environment really is a great kitesurfing spot for beginners.


Average July Wind Speed – 6 knots
Average July Air Temp – 20°C
Average July Water Temperature – 20°C


Best Kitesurfing Spots for Beginners in Portugal

Lisbon

Well known as one of the cultural capitals of Europe, with a rich history and vibrant atmosphere, Lisbon also offers access to some of the best kitesurfing beaches on the Portuguese coast.

The kitesurfing around Lisbon is often a well kept secret, so you can enjoy world class conditions without the usual crowds which go with them – a huge bonus when starting out as a beginner kitesurfer.

There are multiple spots around the city where you can kitesurf, the best spot for beginner kitesurfers to head to is the Albufeira Lagoon about 45 minutes drive from the city centre, which offers a more controlled environment to learn, with standing-depth water.


Average July Wind Speed – 8 knots
Average July Air Temp – 24°C
Average July Water Temperature – 19°C

Peniche

North of Lisbon, giving access to the fantastic conditions of the Portuguese coastline but in quieter surrounds than that of the capital, is the quaint medieval fishing port of Peniche.

The surf here is as popular an attraction as the town itself, with a world class swell attracting all levels of riders. While the pros are busy at the beach, beginners can head for the flat water and consistent winds of the Obidos Lagoon 15 minutes away.


Average July Wind Speed – 9 knots
Average July Air Temp – 23°C
Average July Water Temperature – 19°C

Lagos

Portugal’s southernmost point, Lagos, receives 300 days of sun per year, and you won’t find many days with less than 15 degrees water temperature in winter.

The lagoon is the best beginner kite surfing spot in the Algarve, with perfectly flat and shallow water, ideal for learning the ropes. The only people allowed on the lagoon are kitesurfers, meaning less traffic and making it easier to focus on learning the basics.


Average July Wind Speed – 9 knots
Average July Air Temp – 24°C
Average July Water Temperature – 21°C






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Introduction To Surf Gear For Beginners

By George Ross


Thinking of taking to the waves for the first time and not sure what kind of surf gear to go for? It is best to know the basics of surfing equipment before you rush into renting (or even more so buying) any surf gear, to make sure you make the best purchase to help you progress. This guide is a handy introduction to the kinds of surfboards and wetsuits you will most likely need as a beginner surfer.

Surf Gear: Best Surfboards for Beginner Surfers

When starting out on your future career as a pro surfer, you need the right surf gear, namely a surfboard, to suit your ability level or progression can be inhibited rather than sped up.

When looking for a beginner surfboard, always remember, a foam board is definitely your friend. Hard top boards are available, but these are best left until you have found your feet on a board; foam boards are largely designed so that you can fall off with minimal risk of unwanted injuries from a hard top board. The large volume of foam boards make them float better, in turn making them easier to catch waves on, and giving them more stability when you ride them.

Size wise, the bigger the board the faster you will be able to paddle on it, so the more waves you will catch, and the faster you will progress. Larger boards are again considerably more stable and easier to keep your balance on than smaller boards.


Team Ongosa checking out the surf board selection at the Rip Curl shop in Peniche, Portugal, one of our Top 6 Surf Spots in Portugal


The Ongosa Team picking up some kit in Playa de Somo, Spain

Beginner boards should usually be between 7 and 9 feet – large enough to be easy to stay standing on, but not so large as to be too cumbersome and difficult to control. Once your surfing progresses you can move on to smaller style surfboards in the 6 to 8 foot size range. Shorter boards such as Mini-Mal, Magic Carpet and Large Fish surfboards can make tighter turns, and come into their own on steeper waves, but these are less stable than foam boards and best left until intermediate level and beyond.

Three fins are most common on beginner boards, giving good stability in the wave. A leash (a cable attaching the board to your ankle) is an essential on any beginner’s board, as unfortunately you can expect to be forcibly separated from your vessel many times during the learning process. As well as saving you a long swim back to the shore to collect your board after each fall, a leash stops your board from wiping out unsuspecting fellow surfers. 

Surf Gear: The Right Wetsuit For The Weather

Especially important for those learning to surf in the UK, a wetsuit is essential for keeping warm in the water. Some surf spots in the world are warm enough that wetsuits aren’t needed, however most breaks close to home, and that are suitable for beginners, are in waters where a suit should definitely be on your surf gear shopping list.

Different wetsuits come with different thicknesses, so you can choose the right suit for the climate (and most importantly water temperature) that you are going to encounter.

The way the thickness of a wetsuit is written looks like a fraction, for example ‘3/2’. What this means is the thickness of the neoprene around the core and torso of the body is 3mm, and on the arms and legs is 2mm.


Wetsuits in the Rip Curl shop, Peniche, Portugal, quality controlled by the team on our recent Ongosa Summer Roadtrip

Have a look at this rough guide to quickly see what suit thickness is best for what kinds of water temperatures:

  • 18 – 23°C: 3mm “Shortie” (Short sleeved and legged wetsuit)
  • 16 – 21°C: 3/2 full suit
  • 11 – 17°C: 4/3 full suit
  • 6 – 15°C: 5/4 full suit
  • 8°C or less: 6/5 full suit

In the UK, in Cornwall, Devon, Wales and Ireland, water temperatures rarely drop below 8°C, so a 5/4 full suit is ideal. In places on the east and south coasts, and especially in Scotland, water temperatures can be lower so a 6/5 full suit will be more appropriate.

In southwest France and Northern Spain a 4/3 or a 5/4 suit will do the job, and further south in Portugal water temperatures are higher again, with highs in summer of anywhere between 16 – 23°C, so you may never need anything thicker than 4/3.

In colder temperatures, for example if surfing in the UK in winter, extra warm surf gear such as boots, gloves and a hood can be needed as well as your wetsuit. These are usually only necessary if you are going to be surfing in waters colder than around 12°C, although some prefer the extra warmth and protection these offer, even in warmer water.

This guide is meant to give an introduction to the kinds of equipment you will need as a beginner surfer. Those who will know best are those surfing the break every day – when you book one of our qualified and knowledgeable instructors you can speak to them to learn what surf gear will best suit your ability level, and the spot you will be surfing, before you buy.





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The post Introduction To Surf Gear For Beginners appeared first on Ongosa Blog.

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Top 6 Surf Spots In Portugal

By Sam Smith


It’s fair to say that Portugal’s 1,800km of coastline, consistently great weather and the Atlantic Ocean swell are what makes the oldest nation-state in Europe a surfing mecca. In May this year, we cruised the golden beaches ourselves to hand-pick our top 6 surf spots in Portugal. Enjoy!

Ericeira

The surf capital of Portugal, Ericeira is the only World Surfing Reserve in Europe, making it one of the globe’s best surf spots.

With a huge variety of waves to cater for everyone, Ericeira is the place to be for lively atmosphere, fantastic seafood and a surf.

A pebble’s throw away from Lisbon, with 11 beaches to pick from, Ericeira is the crème-de-le-crème of Portuguese surf. The fishing town’s rather stunning and its fish is a must try too. The O Lebre restaurant is a must try; the prego sandwiches are great for an after-surf fuel up.


Ribiera D’Ilhas is a good right hand pointbreak for intermediate surfers. For the experts, Praia do Coxos is one, with gnarly waves reaching five metres and beyond.


Peniche

Also known as the “European Pipeline”, Peniche sells itself as a beginner haven and keen surfer’s dream. Home to the infamous Supertubos beach that welcomes the best surfers in the world every October for the MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal, Peniche certainly builds Portugal’s reputation as the best European spot for surfing.

Surrounded by beaches sandier than Hawaii and more fisherman than you can shake a rod at, we love it. You’ll be guaranteed a wave, whatever the weather at this surfer’s paradise.


New to surfing? Peniche is Europe’s most popular place for beginners. Find out more here


The Algarve: Sagres

The Algarve’s home of surfing; with year-round surf and big swells, Sagres proves to be an awesome spot for all levels of surfing.

Cosy coves coupled with the windy, wild and open beaches allows you the luxury of choosing the perfect beach and break for your level of experience and aspirations. It’s also a sun trap; the Atlantic’s strong winds are to thank for not getting too hot whilst surfing, even on those sunny, sunny days.

So what more could you want; endless days of sun with lot’s of golden beaches in swell that’s certain. Winning.


Sagres is a beginner’s bliss. With promised weather and surf, learner’s will absolutely love it. You’ll find the best coffee in town at Café Espresso; they even do a flat white!


The Algarve: Lagos

Did somebody say that there’s 8 months a year of guaranteed 20-degree temperatures in Lagos!? Surfing here is a no brainer. Riddled with beaches to suit all standards, Lagos is ideal for beginners and intermediate level surfers alike.

Known for its vibrant summer nightlife and party reputation, you’ll certainly have a good surfing shindig here.

Lagos is an ideal spot for couples, groups of mates and families seeking consistent weather, waves and a lively town brimming with restaurants, bars and cafes.


The fresh tacos at The Green Room are the ideal post-surf bite, followed by a drink at The Laboratorie de Actividades Criativas (LAC). The LAC is a converted jailhouse, come art gallery with plenty of exhibitions and performances to enjoy.


Arrifana

Plenty of seafood, swell and picturesque views. Say no more.

Okay, just a bit more . . . As part of a small fishing village, there’s always great seafood at the restaurants and cafes right on the shoreline.

Arrifana is situated in the middle of a beautiful nature reserve (Costa Vicentina National Park), and whitewashed houses and cliffs lead down to golden, sandy beaches. It sure is a multi-sensory treat.

So if you’re looking for an idyllic surfing holiday with gnarly, big hollow-barrelled waves and a world class right hand pointbreak, Arrifana is your calling. It’s perfect for couples, families or a group of surfers.


If you go in July (next month), the locals invite you to a traditional fishermen’s festival where you’ll be sure to get your sardine fix, in the company of the local fishermen themselves. Aljezur is a beautiful little market town which is great to explore on the weekends too.


Lisbon

Lisbon ticks all of the boxes for a legendary surf spot; a vibrant nightlife, thriving art scene and Mediterranean climate, in the heart of a world class surf zone.

Not only that, it’s a twenty-minute drive from the city and has over 10 beaches for suffers of all levels to choose from.

Praia de Carcavelos is one of the most consistent spots in Portugal for fast and powerful waves that make it one of the most popular beaches in Portugal. Its barrelling beach break provides a variety of waves for surfers of all abilities.

Lisbon’s outstanding coastline attracts the locals for its booming surf scene and definitely lives up to its reputation as a hidden city surfing gem.


You have to try one of Dona Tosta Cafe’s ham and cheese toasties, it’s the best in town and the perfect pre-surf fuel-up.


So there you have it, our top 6 surfing spots in Portugal. There are plenty of other surf spots in Portugal that we think you’d like too, including Porto, Aljezur and Faro.

Do you want to gain more surf experience? Visit Ongosa, and somebody will be in touch.

For press and news enquiries, contact Sam@ongosa.com.





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Top 5 Places to Learn How to Surf in Europe

By Team Ongosa


Learning how to surf isn’t just about refining the smoothness of your pop-up technique (although of course this is a large part). Equally important is learning the etiquette of the beach, so you can fit seamlessly into surfer life, and knowing which are the best beginner-friendly beaches to head for when learning how to surf.

Newquay, UK


Newquay

The true home of surfing in the UK, Newquay in Cornwall is the place to head for the best waves on offer in this country. But that doesn’t mean it is too much for beginners – Newquay’s relaxed atmosphere means newbies and pros coexist peacefully, and Fistral Beach is always littered with surf school groups learning the ropes.


Biarritz, France


Biarritz

The chic French seaside town is best for beginner surfers in July and August when the waves are smaller. How does an summer evening surf, watching the sun go down over the Atlantic sound…


Lacanau, France


Lacanau

One of France’s most popular surf destinations, only an hour from Bordeaux and annual host of the Lacanau Pro, World Surf League Qualifying Series. Its 14 km beach means there is space for all, board rental shops are everywhere you look, and there are plenty of instructors for us to put you in touch with.


Porto, Portugal


Porto

A fantastic destination in its own right to the north of Portugal’s coastline, a trip to Porto gives a taste of the country’s rich history, and the option to dive into some quality surfing. The region’s famous Port wine is also plentiful for the evenings after you have had your fill of the waves – when in Porto…


Bilbao, Spain

Bilbao

125 miles of Europe’s best surf, makes the coastline around Bilbao a must visit for a surfer of any ability – why tick off one the bucket list European surf spots with your first trip? Beginners can enjoy the break as much as anyone else, with peak conditions being in autumn, but the Spanish sun makes summer in Bilbao a popular option too.


So there you have it, the best 5 places to learn to surf in Europe. If you’re visiting – or are even remotely interested in visiting one of these brilliant resorts – let us know and we can pair you up with the best local instructor who’ll take your game to the next level.



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Ongosa Blog by Luke - 1y ago
Learn How To Surf

By Team Ongosa


Learning how to surf isn’t just about refining the smoothness of your pop-up technique (although of course this is a large part). Equally important is learning the etiquette of the beach, so you can fit seamlessly into surfer life, and knowing which are the best beginner-friendly beaches to head for when learning how to surf.

How To Surf: Basic Technique

There are two basic elements to master before you start surfing – the paddle and the pop. Learning one isn’t much good without learning the other, so be sure to get both techniques locked in.


How to Paddle on a Surfboard | Simple Techniques for Beginners & Intermediates - YouTube
How To Paddle

To position yourself in the best spot to catch a ride in anything more than waist-deep water, you’ll need to paddle your board whilst lying on top.

The correct place to lie to reduce drag and move through the swell most efficiently is in the centre of your board. The nose of your board should be around 5 cm out the water – lie too far back and this distance will increase. Lie too far forwards and your nose will plummet.

Arch your back to reduce weight on the board and get in the best position for paddling. Your head and shoulders can weigh around 20 kg on the board, so arching your back is essential. Imagine there is a football under your chin, resting on the board to maintain the position.

Keep your body steady in the middle of the board, and paddle perpendicular to the wave facing the beach, until you have fully caught the wave.

How To Pop

The most important part of paddling is not to stop until you have fully caught the wave – if in doubt do 2 extra paddles, then pop up.

  1. To pop from a lying position to standing, first plant your hands to either side of your pectorals. (It is a common mistake to place your hands either side of the board, this creates drag in the water and will make it harder to catch a wave).
  2. Push yourself up into a press up position.
  3. Bring what will be your back foot forwards, until it is in line with your other knee.
  4. Slide your front foot forward in between your hands.
  5. Keep both hands planted on the board, until your feet are in position and stable.
  6. Raise your hands and stand, keeping your knees bent. Your back foot should be at 90 degrees to the direction of your board, and your front foot at 45 degrees.
How to Catch an Unbroken Wave | How Surfers Paddle into Green Waves - YouTube

Make sure you keep looking where you are going immediately after popping up, to avoid falling away to either side, and you are up and surfing!

The best advice we can give on how to progress on from this point?

Get an instructor to show you! Reading up before you get out in the water is a great idea, but there is no substitute for having a knowledgeable, experienced instructor there to show you first hand and give specific pointers based on your technique.

Learn the Basics of Surfing Beach Etiquette

Part of learning how to surf is learning beach etiquette, first and foremost on the list of surfing faux pas – don’t ‘drop in’.

A sure-fire way to identify yourself as a beginner on the beach is ‘dropping in’ and stealing someone else’s wave. A great wave can really only be ridden properly by one surfer as there is only space for one in the best, most powerful area of the wave.

The surfer nearest the peak of the wave has priority, so look to either side when paddling to catch a ride. If anyone is nearer the break than you, (and so will have a longer ride), leave them to it and wait for the next one.

How To Surf: Surf Etiquette - WHAT YOU MUST KNOW - YouTube

Snakeing is deliberately paddling around someone to get the best spot in the break and pinching their wave, obviously not a way to make yourself popular with the surf town locals, and definitely to be avoided.

Finally just make sure you pick a surf spot which suits your ability – you don’t need to head straight for Hawaii on your first trip, best find a beach suitable for beginners or you just run the risk of disrupting the more experienced surfers, and struggling to progress yourself. So where to go?



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Courmayeur Cable Car

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Checrouit Gondola

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Col Checrouit

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Stadio Slalom

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Aretu Chair

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Cresta Youla

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Val Veny

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Plan de la Gabba

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Bertolini

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Zerotta

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Entreves

Courmayeur Self-Guided Day Tour

By Team Ongosa


Courmayeur’s location at the foot of the highest mountain in Western Europe, Mont Blanc (or Monte Bianco as it is called when viewed from the Italian side) ensures incredible skiing and breath-taking scenery for anyone visiting this enchanting old village.

It is widely known as one of the mountaineering and off-piste capitals of the Alps, however there is enough groomed skiing to entertain more intermediate level skiers, (although it is more suited to a weekend ski break than a full week).

The resort claims to offer 100km of runs, but really only have of this is pisted – the pistes they do have are mostly blue and red with only a couple of blacks. Intermediates looking to push themselves would be best advised to book a guide and try some of the gentle off-piste which Courmayeur offers such as the 24km Vallee Blanche which runs all the way to Chamonix and can be enjoyed by intermediate level skiers.

This written guide will stick to the pistes, however for those looking to move onto the whole mountain or just to progress their skiing, we can suggest and book many great real-life ski guides and instructors who will ensure you get the most out your Courmayeur ski trip.


Ski Pass: Courmayeur Pass
Start Point: Courmayeur Cable Car
End Point: Courmayeur Village

Morning – Up with the Sun on Mont Blanc’s Sunny Side

This day enjoying the slopes of Courmayeur follows the sun, starting with the open bowls of the North East facing Checrouit area.

The Courmayeur cable car (1) at 1224 metres in the heart of the village is the first step on your journey up the flanks of Mont Blanc. Then a short walk across the snow and up the Checrouit gondola (2), bringing you to Col Checrouit (3) at 2256 metres. There is no better place to enjoy spectacular views of the Aosta Valley first thing in the morning, and the skiing’s not bad either. The red Checrouit run back down under the gondola to Plan Checrouit (2) is wide open, so you have lots of space and the necessary peripheral vision to get some first run speed, and get some blood flowing in the legs.

Courmayeur Mont Blanc ski resort - YouTube

Ski Aosta Valley Courmayeur

You may find yourself wanting to lap the Checrouit gondola a few more times, and we would be right behind you, however if you are looking to push on, take the Maison Vieille chairlift to play on the Stadio Slalom run (4) – blast through the gates and feel like a pro. Taking the Aretu chair (5) from halfway down will allow you to pay a visit to the snowpark. A variety of jump sizes mean newbie freestylers and experienced jibbers can have fun side by side, and the 15 metre by 15 metre air bag allows progressing freeriders to learn some new tricks in (relative) safety. Again you have the option of lapping these runs multiple times to get all you can out of the different lines of descent this side of the mountain offers.

From the Col Checrouit take the Youla cable car right up to the top of the Cresta Youla at 2624 metres and enjoy the resort’s highest piste, the Youla (6), and explore a different route down to Plan Checrouit on the Aretu piste.

Lunch – Italy, Eat Your Heart Out

Now it is surely time to partake in one of Courmayeur’s most noteworthy features – the abundance of amazing and great value cuisine. Skiing in Italy really does offer another dimension when it comes to piste-side dining, and those who have not visited the Aosta Valley’s ski resorts before will be bowled over by how readily available incredible quality lunches are.

In Plan Checrouit (2), Refugio Christiania is known for its low cost yet high quality original pizzas, which include mini deep-fried pizzas oozing with local cheese.

Alternatively Maison Vieille is Courmayeur (1) dining through and through – traditional food, in a secluded shepherds’ cabin on the mountainside, coming complete with stereotypically cheerful and doting Italian service.

Thanks to long cable car hours, both of these are open for lunch as well as dinner if you can’t fit them in during the day. To visit Maison Vieille at night the restaurant’s snowmobile collects you from Plan Checrouit making it a completely immersive experience.

Maison Vieille sulla neve - YouTube
Afternoon – More to Explore

Many of you may be quite content to call it a day after dining in any of Courmayeur’s fantastic eateries, but for those who reluctantly layer back up and drag themselves away from the luncheon table… We carry on the ski day by taking the Checrouit gondola back up, but this time heading to skiers left to spend the afternoon exploring the tree lined slopes above Val Veny (7).

Firstly take the Lazey red down to the Plan de la Gabba chair (8), which transports you up to enjoy the Gabba piste and the Comba Moretta. High runs, which often means great snow, even with their sunny aspect.

You will want to take the International piste, for a taste of Courmayeur’s other noteworthy export aside from the food and the powder – downhill racing. The World Cup stops here every season for this amazing long descent through craggy Aosta scenery, and it simply has to be ticked off before you leave.

Taking the Bertolini chair (9) back up will afford you not only a welcome sit down, but also a chance to take on a black run, one of the resort’s more challenging pisted routes. Rocce Bianche takes you down some tough terrain, but allows access to the blues around Val Veny, which you can ride down to Zerotta (10), and keep enjoying for as long as your legs hold out.

At the end of the day you have the option to ski back over to Plan Checrouit, or lift down into Entreves (11) and take the bus back into Courmayeur village.



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Chamonix Self-Guided Day Tour

By Team Ongosa


Welcome to our Chamonix Ski Guide – our brief overview of the European mecca of big mountain skiing.

The Mont Blanc Unlimited Pass gives you access to 4 mountains including Chamonix Mont Blanc, also covering the Megeve Evasion region, and Courmayeur over the Italian border. Chamonix is well known for the seemingly endless amounts of off-piste descents and world-renowned touring itineraries, but there are certainly more friendly routes down the mountain to cater for all abilities.

All areas are linked by the free bus which runs up and down the Chamonix Valley. Here we focus on a great way to spend a day exploring the ski areas most local to Chamonix itself, Grands Montets, Brévent-Flégère and Les Praz.

For advice on venturing further afield in the Chamonix Valley, why not try taking one of our experienced guides. They can help find the best routes for your interests and abilities, from playing around the pistes, to the many awe-inspiring touring itineraries of this infamous free-skiing Mecca.


Start: Argentière
End: Les Praz
Lift Pass: Mont Blanc Unlimited




Morning – Grands Montets down to Argentière

Taking the bus out of Chamonix Village to Argentière is a good way to start a ski day, but beware others may have the same idea, so allow time for a queue at the bus stop. The Grands Montets Mountain at 3275 metres offers a good variety of skiing on its long face back down into Argentière. Take the Lognan cable car and then the Marmottons chairlift, for a relatively gentle start to your ski day on the Marmottons blue runs. Take any of these back to the Bochard bubble, or for those who like to kick-start the adrenaline first thing in the morning, the Grands Montets snow park is here, offering a few smaller jumps and rollers and a boardercross course, with boxes and rails to practise on.

The Bochard gondola arrives at 2765m, and the 800 metre vertical Bochard red, which is your first chance of the day to really open the taps and get some fast turns out. Blast down to the Grands Montets cable car, ride right to the top and enjoy the view.

Chamonix - Ski 20/02/2017 - YouTube

Cruising in Chamonix

Increasing the difficulty again, you can now take the long, remote and very black run Pointe de Vue right back to the Lognan station. This is your first taste of the really demanding terrain which Chamonix Valley can throw at you. When you reach Lognan the black run turns into red Pierre à Ric, which in this cathedral of high peaks a relatively rare indulgence of lower tree skiing.

Lunch – Chamonix

After this full morning, take the bus back into Chamonix – this would be a great time to take a lunch break in one of the town’s many restaurants. If you are willing to take the leap of ordering seafood in a mountain resort, the Cap Horn is next to the river, and is as safe a bet as you will find for a nautical themed restaurant in a ski resort. For a more traditional option Maison Carrier is a rustic chalet serving regional specialities with a gourmet flourish on the Route de Bouchet near Chamonix station.

Afternoon – Brévent-Flégère

Time to clip back in for another explore. Well not quite yet, first we need to hop on the Plan Praz Télécabine up to 2000m – then take the traversing blue down to the Cornu chairlift. Look out for some of Chamonix’s many parapente fanatics launching from here and hovering out over the valley and enhancing an already stunning view.

From the top of the chair take the red Charlanon to skiers left, and enjoy a descent down to Liaison cable car which bridges the valley gap over to Flégère. A bit more lift time is necessary after this before one of days biggest skis, firstly on the Evettes chair, then the Index, but once scaled you now have some of the resorts most interesting and eminently lap-able piste skiing at your feet. Many of the reds up here would pass for black in other more family orientated resorts, so don’t let the map fool you – there is skiing here on which all abilities can push themselves.

Chamonix Brevent

Ski over to the far side of Flégère to try one of the best of these, the 4.5km red Crochues which is usually fantastically free of other skiers. An afternoon lapping this amazing ski area can go on as long as you like (probably until your legs give out as you may be reluctant to leave). To return down to the base of the mountain you need to take black Les Praz down through the trees. This can be arduous at the best of times, so with end-of-the-day snow and others skiers also returning home, make sure you have left enough in the tank to slug it out.

There is an unbelievable amount to discover on the Mont Blanc Unlimited pass, so be sure to check out our instructors and guides who can show you all the amazing areas at your disposal.


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Ongosa Blog by Matt Meylan - 1y ago
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Start/Finish – Verbier-Ruinettes gondola from Médran

Verbier Self-Guided Day Tour

By Team Ongosa


The 4 Valleys is not only Switzerland’s biggest ski area, at 410 kms of runs, but is also one of Europe’s premier Meccas for off-piste skiing. But don’t think that means it is only for experts – there is more than enough varied on-piste skiing to keep all abilities entertained and enthused.

Here we have constructed a ski day itinerary which gives a sample of all of Verbier’s varied terrain, from blue to black to marked but un-pisted mogul runs. You will tick off a couple of valleys, and make it all the way to the 3330 metre summit of the area’s awe-inspiring centre piece, Mont Fort.


Ski Pass: 4 Valleys Full Area Pass

Start and End Point: Médran, 1532 metres

Morning – Up And Out Into The Immense 4 Valleys

The way to start this full ski day, which takes in as broad a selection of the 4 valleys quality skiing as possible is to head straight up the Attelas Mountain. This is the main route out of resort in the morning, so get cracking early to beat the queues. Take the (1) Verbier-Ruinettes gondola from Médran, followed by the (2) Funispace cable car.

Time to clip in – head out and left to the (3) Lacs Bleue, a rolling blue which is as gentle a way to wake up your ski legs as you can hope to find in this extreme ski area. This run leads to the (4) Lac de Vaux 2 Chairlift (be sure to get this, not the Lac de Vaux 1 which goes back up the way you have come). After the chair ride up you now stand atop (5) Chassoure at 2740 metres, and can see the whole descent down into Tortin at 2050 metres stretching before you. This is one of the 4 Valleys’ famous yellow itinerary marked off piste runs – and one of its most popular at that. That being the case, the moguls can become quite pronounced, so take them at your own pace.

By contrast this great fun mogul field turns into a relatively tame blue run into Siviez, down at 1730 metres. You may be glad of the gentler gradient after the thigh-burn of the mogul field, just be sure to carry some speed or self-propulsion may be needed on the flatter sections.

Lunch – A Rest Stop in Siviez

Once down in (6) Siviez, you have a good opportunity to grab a sit down and a bite to eat in the village. For a mid budget option, Fer a Cheval is always a hit with seasonnaires, locals, and holidaymakers alike, with a bistro bar upstairs and quieter seating downstairs with a terrace. Top notch pizza, pasta, salads and grill options to keep you on your feet for the afternoon ahead… you may need it.

Afternoon – To The Highest Heights

Heading out of Siviez, take the long ride first up the (7) Tortin chair, then the Tortin-Gentianes cable car back towards Verbier, all the way to the (8) Col des Gentianes at 2950 metres. From here you have the option to push it right to the very top of the ski area, with the (9) Mont Fort cable car taking you up to the very top of that famous mountain at 3330 metres. The ensuing Mont Fort black run shows off the very best advanced (on piste) terrain the area has to offer.

This black ends in a (10) drag lift back up to the Col des Gentianes, from where you wont need much more guiding – simply keep to skiers left and follow the rolling red runs right the way from the very top of the resort all the way back into Verbier. This amazing descent of well over a kilometre affords you a stop at the excellent (11) Verbier snowpark and skicross course, if you haven’t yet had enough thrills for one day. Otherwise enjoy the excellent piste quality up high, and just keep skiing. Eventually you will reach the many interlinking runs of the face back into Verbier, and back to your original starting point after getting an amazing day’s sample of what this area can offer.

And the best part is there’s plenty more where that came from, there are still many other pockets (and entire valleys) to explore on your next ski day in one of Europe’s finest mountain ranges.



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