Ask Betty Surf Advice: Using Surf Wax

Dear Betty,
I took a couple of surf lessons and we didn’t use surf wax on the boards. What is it used for and why?

— Allison, Jacksonville, FL

Dear Allison,
Surf wax is designed to help your feet grip the board, but you don’t need wax if you are a beginner riding a foam board—the foam is rough enough to keep feet from slipping and sliding around. However, if you don’t have surf wax on a fiberglass board you’re riding, you will slip right off — it doesn’t matter if you’re riding on big or small waves. Most surf wax is labeled for different water temperatures and you should choose the right wax for the water temperature or you might find that your wax will become too hard (slippery) or too soft (gooey). Here are a few tips for waxing your fiberglass board:

• Wax your board in the shade so that the wax doesn’t become melty and goopy.
• Try to wax your board before you get on the sand to avoid getting too many sand particles in the wax (trust us: too much sand and it will scratch your skin).
• Apply the wax so that the top of the board feels sticky, not smooth (it’s different than the wax you use on a snowboard). You can wax up and down or side to side or in a circular motion.
• Wax from the tail to about a couple feet below the nose, unless you are on a noserider, in which case you’ll want to wax from tail to nose (and then I’m guessing you’d already know all about waxing anyway!). The goal is to get little wax bumps to cover about 3/4 of your board.
• Don’t wax the underside of your board. (It seems obvious, but I’ve been asked about that!)
• Change your wax after it gets dirty enough to turn a yucky brownish-black. To apply new wax, place your board in the sun for as long as it takes the wax to get soft and then use a wax comb or other flat object like a paint scraper to remove the wax dirty wax before you apply new wax.

This Betty is stoked to see new waxes on the market that are not harmful to the environment. Check out: GreenSurf, Terra Wax, Northern Light Surf Wax, and Funky Puffin’s Jersey Surf Wax.

Enjoy the ride,
Betty

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