Morning folks and Happy Mother’s Day. We’re headed up the coast in a bit with the family to hang on the beach for the day. The wave where we’re going is a nice little right point break, but it can be pretty soft. We surfed it on the film trip with Kalama, Colin and Boehne (it gets good when it’s pumping) and I had a terrible session riding the starboard, that board doesn’t go well in flatter sections, but my plan for today is to try and figure it out. What I’m specifically going to try to work on is to see if doing a slingshot frontside cutback and focusing on using the tail for the turn will hold better. The problem is that the front rails are fat and they dig if you bury them, and slow down the turn.
On to the daily… Since we discussed surf stance in such depth over the past 4 days, I thought giving you a compelling reason to work on it might help get you there… In coaching I continuously see folks not getting down the line on good waves because they are getting situated on their boards while the wave is running away from them. Or, the latter, and very ugly, is when folks paddle into the wave in parallel stance and then realize the wave will run away and “ski” down the line. The stance that looks like snow skiing, but with only one pole. In that case, you might make the wave, but you’re not going to be able to maneuver. You’ll see a lot of heel rail digs from skiers and some pretty bad wipeouts.
Now that you’ve learned surf stance, the big advantage is being able to set your rail right off the drop. As you’re paddling into the wave (let’s focus on frontside right now) you should be gauging how fast the wave is going to peel down the line. With that data you can then decide at what angle you need to set your rail. Setting your rail is engaging your toe side rail by leaning on it, bracing on your paddle for balance, which will turn your board in the toe side direction. This is the beginning of the bottom turn, but done high up on the wave to conserve potential energy. The higher you stay on a wave, the more energy because the wave is steeper in that area and the more potential energy (acceleration) you have when you decide to come down. So, you gauge how fast the wave is going to run, set your rail and run down the line. And being in surf stance means that that’s all you have to think about when your catching the wave. You move up or back on your board depending on the speed you need or how much you want to turn. Turning comes off the tail, and speed comes farther up on the board.
From time to time I’ll have a session where I’m focused on coaching instead of personal improvement. This will also apply when we’re running a camp. Today it was private coaching. I’ll use these days as a way to focus on more beginner/intermediate skills as that’s what we’re normally working on…
Notes from today:
*** Thanks to John for pointing out the obvious on Facebook… Always make sure there isn’t anyone around you when you ditch you’re board. It’s your responsibility to make sure your board doesn’t injure anyone in the lineup.
Dealing with your board when a large wave is breaking right in front of you. If you’re going to surf beach breaks, you’re going to find yourself in some bad situations… one of those is paddling back out and having a wave peaking and breaking right in front of you. Maybe it even looks for a minute like you’ll be able to make it over, but then, one or two strokes short, you realize you’re not going to make it… What’s next. There are few methods I’ll cover. Some I use, but wouldn’t recommend a beginner and some safe bets.
The priority is to be away from your board. We can all deal with a few seconds underwater, maybe even a swim if the leash breaks, but taking the board to your body is 100% what you’re trying to avoid. You should also try to avoid breaking your board. Ok… some tactics.
The easiest thing to do when a wave breaks right in front of you and you’re standing, paddling back out, is to jump off the side of the board in the direction of the wave. If you’re at a deep beach break you can dive in, if your at a reef, probably not a good idea. Lately I’ve been doing pencil dives, feet first as this gives me a bit more control over the pull of the board in bigger surf and let’s me save some swims/leashes. If you pencil in you can then quickly orient your feet towards the beach and let the wave pull you backwards through the water. When you pencil in, you can also control your depth with your paddle.
To avoid breaking your board it’s good to orient your board parallel to the breaking wave. This way the force of the wave as less board to act on. If you leave your board perpendicular to the wave and the lip lands on it, you’ll likely break one sooner or later.
Never, and I’ve seen this go badly a few times, never, try to jump over the barely breaking wave off the front of your board. What happens here is that the board can get thrown up by the wave and slam into you, usually in the thigh or foot. It can end badly.
What I like to do, and this only works for medium size waves and whitewater, is to shoot the board over the back of the wave. Make sure you’re very stable paddling if you’re going to try this maneuver. What you do is as the wave approaches, you move back to surf stance while paddling hard for your last 2 or 3 strokes. Right as the wave approaches, you set your blade like a normal stroke, but transition your weight back and shoot the board with your back foot over the wave. If you don’t do it right, the board will be coming back at you pretty quick, so make sure you’re falling back into the water as the board is going over. If done correctly you’ll shoot the board over the wave, you’ll go under and you pop up, board pointed at the lineup right in front of you. Just remember to come up with a hand in front of your face as sometimes the board will be right on top of you.
If you like this post let me know in the comments below… Erik
Questions on this page should focus on the first steps in paddle surfing. Paddling out, foot stances, catching waves, going down the line. No maneuvers on this section.