Health & Safety and Understanding the Risks of Surfing and Bodyboarding

Beginner, Intermediate, Waikiki, Advanced, Advanced Plus and Expert Waves – Understanding the Risks

Surfing and bodyboarding are physically challenging and carry risks that we cannot entirely eliminate, including damage to property, personal injury and in extremely rare circumstances, even death. You should only participate in surf and bodyboarding sessions at The Wave with a full understanding of the risks and the steps you can take to minimise them.

The minimum age to participate in these sessions is 6 years old and all participants must be able to swim 25m unaided.

Choosing the right session

Our surfing and bodyboarding sessions are graded by ability. It is your responsibility to read the session descriptions and to ensure that you are competent to take part safely in your chosen session. If, during a session, we feel that you are not competent and may put yourself or others at risk, we reserve the right to remove you from the session without refund or compensation.

We strongly advise that you begin with the easier sessions and work your way up. If you have any questions at all about the level of skill required for a session, please ask a member of The Wave Staff or contact our Customer Service Team.

Types of Injuries

Most surfing injuries are not serious. The main cause of injury is contact with a surfer’s own board or someone else’s board. Injuries can also result from contact with the lake floor, which is made of concrete. It is important to follow all instructions on how to safely dismount your surfboard to avoid contact with the lake floor.

The most common types of surfing injuries are:

  • Cuts and scrapes, sprains and bruises to the head, face, shoulder and arm.
  • Injuries to feet and ankles as a result of jumping from surfboards in shallow water.
  • Overuse injuries such as repetitive strain of the neck and rotator cuff tendonitis.
  • Cramp.
  • Fatigue and exhaustion. Tiredness can diminish your reaction time and increase the risk of accident.
  • Sun Burn.

Although most injuries are not serious, surfing also carries the risk of fractures, dislocations, severe injuries to the head, neck or back or other injuries that may result in permanent disability and death. A previous injury, for example to your knee or shoulder, can increase your chance of sustaining a subsequent injury.

Preventing Surf Injuries

There are steps you can take to minimise the chances of sustaining an injury whilst surfing or bodyboarding at The Wave.

  • Watch our Health and Safety briefing and follow all the instructions of the instructors and lifeguards.
  • Warm up thoroughly before your surf or bodyboard session.
  • If you cramp up, stay calm and signal for help from one of our lifeguards.
  • Wear good quality waterproof sunscreen.
  • Before surfing or bodyboarding check all your equipment for damage.
  • Be aware of your environment and other people in the lake.
  • Be honest with yourself about your ability and chose the right session for your fitness level.
  • Listen to your body. If you are tired, take a break.
  • Dismount your surfboard safely. Never jump off your board feet first. Follow all the instructions of the surf coaches on how to safely fall, including falling backwards like a starfish into deeper water where possible.
  • If you fall off your board, always cover your head and face with your arms.
  • We recommend wearing a helmet. Helmets are compulsory for all under 18s and all surfers in the Beginner Bay. Whilst no helmet can protect the wearer against all potential injuries, the use of a helmet will provide extra protection to your head and face.
  • Follow the Surfing Etiquette set out below.
  • If you have any questions – ask!

Surfing Etiquette

  • Respect the rights of other surfers and bodyboarders in the water.
  • Be aware that other surfers and bodyboarders in your session may have varying skill levels.
  • Be patient. Wait for your wave. Don’t drop in on someone else.
  • Don’t ditch your board. Always wear your leash and try to maintain control of your board to avoid it hitting you or someone else.
  • If you fall, cover your face and head until your board is under control. Once you have control of your board, safely move out of the way of other surfers.
  • Don’t get in the way. Paddle back out through the channel and not in front of other people riding the waves.
  • Choose the right surf session for your ability level.
  • Help and support other people in the water.

Beginner Bay Health and Safety Video

This video is for surfers in our Beginner Lesson or Beginner Session No Lesson experiences.

Important: All surfers must watch our Health & Safety video as part of signing their waiver, even if they have watched it before. You will receive an email with a link to watch the Health & Safety video and sign your waiver, you must watch the Health & Safety video as part of the waiver signing process, even if you watch the video now.

All surfers must watch the Health & Safety video and sign their waiver before arriving on-site.

Reef Health and Safety Video

This video is for surfers on our Waikiki, Intermediate, Advanced, Advanced Plus and Expert sessions.

Important: All surfers must watch our Health & Safety video as part of signing their waiver, even if they have watched it before. You will receive an email with a link to watch the Health & Safety video and sign your waiver, you must watch the Health & Safety video as part of the waiver signing process, even if you watch the video now.

All surfers must watch the Health & Safety video and sign their waiver before arriving on-site.

Play in The Bay – Understanding the Risks

Our Play in the Bay sessions take place in our Beginner Bay whilst we run our Waikiki wave, which provides safe and gentle waves for all the family to enjoy. These sessions are open to people of all ages, perfect for having fun with a bodyboard or just jumping in the shallows with your little ones. To minimise the risk of injury, we do not allow any surfboards in the Beginner Bay during this session. However, Play in the Bay customers should be aware that surfboards are permitted in the Reef area of the lake and whilst we will have a host in the water at the boundary between the Bay and the Reef to minimise the chance of any surfboards accidentally entering the Bay area, there is a chance that a surfboard could enter the Beginner Bay.

All children aged 8 and under must have an adult in the water with them on a ratio of 1:1. Children aged 9-15 years old must be actively supervised by an adult, although this doesn’t have to be in the water.

Types of Injuries

Whilst the risk of injury during a Play in the Bay session is low and additional measures have been taken to make the session as safe as possible for our youngest customers, we cannot entirely eliminate all risks.

The most common types of injury during a Play in the Bay session are:

  • Cuts and scrapes, sprains and bruises to the head, face, shoulder, arm, legs and feet.
  • Cramp.
  • Sun Burn.
  • Cold exposure and in extreme cases, hypothermia.

The main cause of injury is through trips and falls, contact with your own bodyboard or someone else’s bodyboard. In very rare circumstances, a more serious injury could be sustained if you collide with a customer on a surfboard who has accidentally entered the Beginner Bay.

Although most injuries are not serious, participation in a Play in the Bay session also carries the risk of fractures, dislocations, or more severe injuries that may result in permanent disability and in extremely rare circumstances, death. Customers should also be mindful of the moderate current running along the channel and the risk of drowning, particularly for young children. Therefore, we ask that all children under the age of 9 are accompanied in the water by an adult. Instructions on how to manage the channel safely will be included as part of the pre-session Health and Safety briefing.

Preventing Injuries

There are steps you can take to minimise the chances of sustaining an injury whilst taking part in a Play in the Bay Session.

  • Be aware of slipping hazards. Do not run in the lake or on the shore. Always enter the lake by walking.
  • Attend the pre-session Health and Safety briefing and follow all the instructions of the instructors and lifeguards.
  • Stay alert and always remain close to children in your care.
  • Warm up thoroughly before your session.
  • Look out for the signs of cold exposure and hypothermia, particularly in little ones. Wear a wetsuit to help retain heat.
  • If you cramp up, stay calm and signal for help from one of our lifeguards.
  • Be aware of your environment and other people in the lake.
  • Listen to your body. If you are tired, take a break.
  • If you have any questions – ask!

The Wave Acknowledgement of Risk and Waiver

Everyone is required to sign the Acknowledgement of Risk and Waiver before taking part in any surf, bodyboarding or Play in the Bay session. This will be emailed to you in advance, we strongly recommend that you complete it before you arrive on site to make the check-in process as smooth as possible. A parent or legal guardian must complete the Acknowledgement of Risk and Waiver on behalf of all participants under the age of 18. If you have any questions about the risks of surfing or bodyboarding, or the Acknowledgement of Risk and Waiver, please contact the Customer Services team.

Surf Session Suitability

Unfortunately, if we find surfers have booked on to a session that is unsuitable for them, then we may not allow them entry to the session or have to ask them to come out of the water, for their own safety and the safety of those around them.

To avoid a disappointing experience, please take a moment to double check that you have booked a session that is suitable for you – if you are unsure, then we have detailed information on each session, including videos, here

If you have any queries at all or want to amend your booking in advance of visiting then please contact our lovely customer service team on hello@thewave.com.