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How to understand Saltburn Surf Schools Surf Check

How to read our surf reports…..

If you have already had a lesson or two with us, hired a couple of times from us, it’s about now that you realise every time is different, no two days are the same.  One day the waves are a mere ripple and the next huge plunging masses of water swiftly propelling you towards the beach.

Surfing is a complex sport in that we rely heavily on ‘mother nature’ providing favourable conditions for us to learn in and advance.  So how do you get better????

When you first start out the key is to not be too picky about the waves.  The more time in the water  the quicker you will improve, but knowing if there are waves before you make the journey to the beach is always a good place to start.

Our Daily Surf check allows you to get an ‘eyeball report’ of the surf that day without having to get out of bed.  A simple click to our Surf Check page and you will find a stream of information….but unless you can decipher it what use is it to anyone right??? So here we go…..

Every morning before 9am, we post our ‘eyeball report’. The report will look this and can be found on our website.

So lets break it down…..

Surf Size

Surf Size is always described in feet.  This is a complicated subject but when we use sizes in our surf check this is what we mean.

0-0.5ft – practically flat…stay in bed, go for a run, come down for a paddle. Not much surfing to  be done.

1 ft – Think riding the wave and it being just below knee high. Surfable on  a foam board (the ones we use during lessons).  The bigger the board the better, but this can actually be a great day to practice your pop ups etc..we often have the sea to ourselves on days like this and have great fun trying new tricks on ‘foamies’.

2ft – Now you’re talking! Above knee high to waist high (some of us are smaller than others). If your still catching white water – great for you, if your looking to advance out the back, this could be the perfect day for you too.  The waves won’t be too big and scary. Remember practice makes perfect so today is a good day….foamie/longboard/maybe a mini mal, but no shortboarding unless you have a lot of experience or weigh 2 stone wet through.

3ft plus – Chest high….again some of us are taller than others. But generally these will not be over your head unless you are 2.5ft tall, like some of our junior surf club members. Great for white water, trying out the back (past the breaking waves) for stronger paddlers. Can be ridden on a foamie, longboard, mini mal and shortboard depending on level of ability.

Anything beyond this will feel big to a beginner and if you are just starting out, surf any bigger than this will provide you with plenty of white water to push you towards the beach.

Swell Distance

Swell is the name we use to describe the collection of waves that is coming towards us. It is the distance here that is important to us.  We are describing how far the waves have travelled from the storm that created them. The longer/further they travel the more time they have to sort themselves out and line up.

Well travelled, long distance swell – makes us very happy indeed.   This is the day when the waves are in perfect lines, good spacing between them.

Mid Distance – not quite so good, but we will take it! It will be fairly lined up, but the waves may be closer together, not quite cordrouy but nearly there.

Local Swell – this can be from a storm that is fairly close, off our coast.  It will be what we describe as messy – not lined up, waves coming from all directions.

Wind swell – this is when we have strong local winds that we can feel when stood on the beach, they have not travelled at all so will be no lines, quite hard to predict.


The wnd is always described by what direction it is coming from. Our beach at Saltburn faces North largely, and we prefer light winds that come from the S-SW that hold the face of the wave up – offshore.  Onshore make the wave crumble downwards, but the winds are only light then this may not even effect the waves.  Strong offshores can be worse than light on shore winds from the N.

Crosshore winds create a lateral water movement, and can push you in the direction the wind is blowing, it can also create a bump on the surface of the waves that we ride.


High Tide – we detail the time…the next figure is how big the tide is…in simple terms how close the sea will be to the prom.  Without getting into too much detail, we have neap tides, spring tides and normal range tides.  Neap tides wont move as much as Spring tides. When we have spring tides will they will be above 5m and will be very close to the prom, sometimes too close to surf (this is usually for an hour either side of high tide). When high tide its below 5m it will more than likely be fine through high tide to come and hire/surf.l

Low tide – the complete opposite so haw far the water will be away from us.  The smaller the figure the further away the water will be from us on the prom at low tide.

SPRING has a bigger range between low and high tide.

NEAP less movement between low and high tide.

So there we have done our best and hope that all this makes complete and utter sense, or well at least sends you on your way to making an bit more of an informed decision.

Dont forget a link to the webcam on our surf check page will allow you to see the surf for yourself. If you would like to receive updates on when we release new blog posts or enay special offers or events are coming up please subscribe using the tab on the left.

First Blog Post

Our office in Saltburn By The Sea, vsit us for lessons, hire and shop

Hello all,

At Saltburn Surf School and Hire we are always trying to make sure that we offer the best service to all our valued customers (Old and New).  We love what we do and take great pride in sharing the sport of surfing with the many people that visit us. Whether it be for a lesson, hire or advice on new surfing equipment From our shop, we hope that we help spark that same passion we have for the sport in other people.

We do our best to offer the most relevant advice to our customers on how to improve and enjoy the sport safely. We have realised over the years there is a wealth of information out there on the world wide web, but it can be baffling to those new to the sport and hard to decipher.  So having often been plagued by the comment…’I looked on the internet and it said..’ or ‘Magic Seaweed said five stars’ we are starting this blog to offer our advice and guidance. With our experience to guide us and hopefully some feedback from you as to what topics you would like to know about we hope this helps.

Whilst we do try to cover most of the basics in our surf lessons and surf clubs (and taking part is great way to learn), we realise there is so much that follows.  So watch this space for information on basic equipment needs for the beginner, surf forecasting, water safety, the ‘drop in rule’ and much much more.

We will also pop some posts about who we are and what we do. If there is anything specific you would like to know please get in touch and we will try and help.

To get updates on when we release new Blog posts or our latest offers and event, please subscribe using the tab to the left.