Always check the tide times. The waves will be breaking on the rocks 2 hours before high tide. Remember that you must also get out of the water and if the tide is too high you will be washed up on the rocks and risk serious injury. This happens all too often in Lahinch.
If you are a beginner, confine your surfing to the area in front of the car park between O’Looneys and the lifeguard hut. With every wave that breaks there is water pushed in towards the shore. This water must go back out again and usually does so in the form of rips or strong currents. In Lahinch the current builds up from O’Looneys towards the surf shop and when it hits the rocks in front of the surf shop turns sharp right and heads straight out. This rip is the most consistent on the beach. If you are inadvertently caught in this, paddle across it to get out of it. There is also another rip further down the beach beyond the main slip. This varies more due to shifting sand bars.
Rips are usually visible as areas where the waves do not break when viewed from high on the prom. When you are in the water they are more difficult to spot but if you find yourself being swept out paddle parallel to the shore to get out of it. The rips are usually not very wide and do not generally go too far out. Their power increases with the size of the waves. Make yourself aware of the existence of the currents and their locations.
Tide times for Lahinch can be checked in the daily papers, Lahinch is 5 minutes earlier than Galway and the water is on the rocks 2 hours before and after high tide every day .
Safety Points for Surfing
Before you enter the water always think safety.
Never surf alone.
Only surf if you can swim.
Get proper instruction.
Do not enter the water too close to dusk.
Check with local people or lifeguards for possible hazards.
Only surf waves of a size and power suitable to your ability – do not get too confident.
Make sure your equipment is in good order, especially your leash.
Learn to spot rip currents, wind changes and other hazards.
Paddle around the breaking waves not through them to avoid collisions.
When paddling out always check behind you before abandoning your board – consider other water users.
After a wipe out do not surface too soon, allow your board to land and come up with your hands over your head.
Consider using a helmet if surfing near rocks.
If you get caught in a rip do not try to paddle against it – – paddle across it.
If you get into difficulty always stay with your board – it is your flotation device.
Never drop in on another surfer already on a wave.
Priority & Right of Way on Waves
When paddling for a wave always checks for another surfer already on the wave. If there is another surfer already riding the wave it is his wave and you should not drop in on him.
A surfer riding a wave has priority over a surfer paddling out. It is the responsibility of the surfer paddling out to avoid the collision. Either paddle towards the white water or dive under the wave to avoid the approaching surfer.
When 2 surfers catch the same wave the surfer closest to the pocket or breaking part of the wave, who is in the more critical part of the wave, has priority and the other surfer should pull off the wave.
If two surfers catch the same wave the surfer up and riding first, all other things being equal, has priority.
When riding a wave do not put other people, such as those paddling out, in danger.