Beginner Surfers Catching Their First Real Waves


When I teach Oceanside Surf Lessons to new students we begin by catching foam waves. Once students have executed good practices and can ride the foam waves with good form, weAngleonWave move to the next step.

The next step is paddling out and turning to catch bigger foam waves or real waves. Bigger foam waves move faster and with more power and give a longer ride. There is a big step learning to ride real waves.

With foam waves you get in front of the wave after it has broken and there is a lot of margin for where to catch it. With a real wave there are new principals that have to be learned and they can only be improved with experience in the water.

First, you have to see the wave start to form. Then you have to anticipate how big it will be and where it will form the arc you have to catch. Thirdly, you have to estimate how to get to that arc by paddling out, paddling parallel stalling for time, or to paddle in to get in front of it.

Once the wave is closer, you decide whether you will ride down the face or if you are at the corner whether you will angle to get right into the pocket. As it gets close you have to be moving. When it gets on top of you, you paddle as though for your life. Once the wave starts to lift the board, you paddle until you feel the wave’s momentum capturing the board.

This is the learning phase where new surfers take the most and hardest tumbles. Mistiming waves results in lots of crashes. You soon learn when a wave is going to close out so you can abort and when you have mistimed it so you can abort.

Eventually, you get it all more instinctively and there are fewer crashes, but catching waves is always a challenge.


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