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Beach Assessment Teaching Outline




Train Surf Boat Instructor Candidates in Surf Zone dangers, Rips (rip evaluation) and beach suitability (for instruction).

Specific Training Objectives:

 Surf Zone Dangers - teach instructors to recognize and plan for variables of beach shape, beach/water hazards, swell size/type, and risk mitigation.

Rips and Rip Evaluation - teach students how to look for rips, evaluate size and strength, use of rips and rip hazards.

Beach suitability for instruction - teach instructors to evaluate a beach’s usefulness for instruction considering above factors as well as student abilities and other environmental conditions.


Discussion and use of visual aids, on-site practice evaluation using leading questions

Equipment required:  Surf specific or WW kayak, personal paddling gear for season, binoculars (helpful), weather radio, tide table or other suitable tide prediction source


Suggested skill level:  Advanced to expert skills in surf specific kayaks (closed or open deck, waveski),  Duration of Instruction:  15 minutes


Surf Zone Dangers:

 Beach Type:  point or beach break, jetties, river mouth

 Bottom topography:  steep beach = short/steep, gentle slope = longer, spilling, sandbars, channels at reef breaks

 Swell arrival direction:  direct or angled

 Beach condition:  rocky or sandy

 Hazards:  logs/rocks on beach, logs/rocks in the water, current movement/tide state, environmental conditions (tide, wind, swell height), other users (surfers, etc)

Protected sections / risk management:  protection from point/jetty based on swell/wind direction?  Will swim away from danger be into the wind or current?

Rip Evaluation:

 Typical locations:  ends of bays, along jetties/rocks, at intervals down beach

 Recognition:  visible outflow, foam line, break and/or more chaotic swell section

Use of Rips:  aid in return to lineup, riding rip shoulders/seams

Hazard of Rips:  risk of paddling out to conditions bigger than anticipated, speed of current, impact on swimmers (strategies to help manage the current)

Beach Suitability:

  Patience in assessment:  typical swell cycle can be 20 or more minutes

 Objective assessment of swell, wind, beach conditions/hazards, environmental factors

 Realistic assessment of group abilities

 Realistic assessment of instructor abilities that day

Conclusion/What’s next:

 Conservative approach as instructional experience level builds

Go/No-go decisions: willingness to change venue or reschedule if required, reduced class size?