Rip currents, which are present to some degree at every beach in the world where there is wave action, are the experienced surfers best friend, allowing him to quickly gain his position out back with minimal effort. However, rips are an extreme danger to the unwary and, although posing the greatest hazard to swimmers, need to be understood by all who intend to use the ocean as a playground, including surfers.
PHOTO CREDIT - ROBYNE JAY
Obviously all the water that is pushed towards the shore must flow back out again but in neither direction does this do so in regular or even patterns. Water will find the quickest route to flow back out to sea and thus low lying, narrow channels of high velocity water known as rips develop, flowing from the shoreline and out to sea. The speed of water-flow in a rip channel will vary considerably, in some cases so that it is barely discernible while in the most ferocious of rips the water can race at 8 feet per second.