I haven’t been surfing regularly, more like sporadically, but I remember a few things to share – a surf-condensed version of the past month or so …
People don’t like to surf when it is choppy because it is tiring as hell. It’s just not the same … having to paddle more to stay in one place, and the bobbing around kind of tires you. There are waves but the choppiness discourages … and that is why you don’t see surfers out on choppy days even with waves. Then there’s the dizzy factor to turtling. When the sets come in and you’re paddling out, after about three turtles in a row you start to get dizzy. Maybe it is better to just stay upside down and wait for the waves. Saves your energy and avoids temporary vertigo.
Also pay attention to how far out you are when you catch a wave. I was playing around in the inner breaks and caught a wave. Was enjoying the ride and not looking where I was going. I am paying attention to the board and trying to practice turning and stuff. I looked up to see that I was fast approaching the shore and jumped off into shallow waters, landed in calf high water so I (luckily) hit sand. My momentum made me tumble onto the shore, the board flipped over and bonked me on the head. Whalah, crash landed for a perfect 10 in on-shore crashes.
I did have an epiphany at my last session after many tries and failures of trying to catch the breaking 4 foot waves: Different waves require different techniques. The easy waves you learn on break into a rolling white wash so you can catch it and go straight forward and wait to pop up. You can pop up sooner and later or just lay down and ride it like a boogie boarder. But the mentality is wait to feel yourself gliding forward and then pop up.
This does not apply to the bigger breaking waves. If you go straight, no matter how far back on the board you go, you will pearl or nose dive. I watched someone catch a wave after I came up from pearling and all the sets were coming in. I was too tired to paddle out through all the sets and watched as they came in and others catch them with ease. I watched with a technical eye and noticed that this surfer popped up on top of the wave as soon as he caught it and turned away from the break to ride the side of the wave.
Just to be sure when I paddled out I asked a local surfer chick and she told me the same thing. The thing is I really don’t know if I can turn that quickly. I know I can pop up but the turning is sketchy. So I tried it but popped up too early and fell back behind the wave. Was not able to continue to try again, too tired. But it was a successful day despite no actual waves caught where I stood up and rode them. Just rolled around in the white wash a bunch of times.
In talking with my friend Ron he pointed out that when I turn my rail will go into the wave and I will speed up. Another epiphany. Whenever I tried turning on those smaller waves and my rail would dip in I would always eat it. He told me that is not the case when I am on a bigger wave. My board will stick to the wave and pick up speed.
Whoa … I hope I can handle that speed. Something to look forward to next session.
Rob love surfing, wakeboarding, wakesurfing. He’s writing about them in this blog.