This is the summer you are finally going to learn how to surf. At Kannon Beach we are lucky enough to offer lessons and rentals at two of Nova Scotia’s most beautiful beaches. Lawrencetown Beach is Nova Scotia’s surfing hot spot with a variety of waves to choose from in the area just a short drive from Halifax. This year we are pleased to offer lessons and rentals at Martinique Beach Provincial Park, a 45 minute drive from Halifax. It is never too late or too early to learn to surf! There is no experience required. We provide all the necessary gear (surfboards, wetsuits), information about ocean safety, and dryland training before entering the water. Safety is our number one priority, all of our instructors are experienced surfers that are bronze cross certified.
An intro to surfing.
You may notice on your drive to Lawrencetown or Martinique that some days the parking lots are packed with neoprene clad surfers, and other days the lots can be darn close to empty. So how does surfing work? What are you missing?
How do waves form?
Wind is the reason there are waves to surf at all. Energy is transferred from wind to sea causing the ocean to ripple. Those ripples will grow with higher wind speed, over time (duration), and the greater the distance travelled (fetch). The waves move away from the center of the storm similar to the ripples created when you throw a stone in a lake. The waves eventually dissipate with distance or if they encounter an obstacle (land). In shallower water, friction between the wave base and the sea floor causes the wave base to slow while the wave crest maintains its speed causing the wave to break.
The way that waves break depends on the topography of the ocean floor. A gradual sloping sea bed produces gentler, slower moving, “crumbly” waves. This type of gradual slope is typical of most Beach Breaks and perfectly suited for beginners. Abrupt changes in ocean depth will result in steeper waves where the crest tends to “jack up” and “pitch”. These types of waves are often referred to as Slabs, or Reef Breaks, these types of waves are suited to advanced surfers. In instances where there are headlands at one or both ends of the beach, waves will “peel” along the shore line allowing the surfer to ride the steeper open face of the wave, this type of break is referred to as a Point Break and is better suited to more advanced surfers.
Figure 1: Slab
Figure 2: Point Break
Figure 3: Beach Break
Local wind conditions also plays a role in the wave conditions. An onshore wind will create choppier conditions and often cause the wave to break before it becomes steep, in contrast offshore winds can hold the wave up and cause the wave to be steeper. The angle that the swell hits the beach can also play a role in the way that the waves break, if a wave approaches parallel to a straight coast line the wave will be more likely to break all at once ( Closeouts-not really surfable). The wave Period is the time it takes (in seconds) from the moment a wave passes a fixed point until a second wave crosses that same point. Typically longer period swells are associated with storms that are more powerful, having waves that have travelled greater distances.
What to look for
A beginner should focus on honing their skills at one of Nova Scotia’s fabulous beach breaks (Lawrencetown or Martinique are perfect), ideally with light onshore/offshore winds, and something in the 2-3ft wave height, 7+ second period range. However, one of the most exciting aspects to surfing are the constantly changing conditions. Depending on wind direction, swell direction, size, tide, you can experience vastly different conditions at the same location. Some of the hardest aspects of surfing involve learning how to read the ocean, it is a good idea to take a lesson the first time you head out in order to gain valuable insight into basic ocean knowledge.
Whether Nova Scotia is home or away surfing in this province is a must! The experience promises to be the highlight of your summer. Come surf with us! Our experienced instructors will guide you every step of the way.
Kannon Beach Lawrencetown: 902-434-3040
Kannon Beach Halifax: 902-405-8440
Kannon Beach Martinique: 902-471-0025