Beginner Surfers Learn to Time Waves


When I teach Surf Lessons in Oceanside, one of the four things new students learn is how to time catching foam waves. It is one of the more difficult aspects of surfing and continues to be an issue as intermediate students begin to catch real waves.Take off

It continues with advanced surfers as they deal with catching bigger waves. Paddling is one underlying determinant of wave catching ability. A student has to be a good paddler to get into the larger fast moving waves. At around 25′ high, a paddle can no longer catch a wave and they use tow in devices.

The timing is important and has three fundamental aspects. First the surfer has to recognize a good wave to ride. New students see foam and intermediate students see a wave crest and they just start paddling. Not all waves should be ridden. You have to learn on real waves when they are going to arc favorably.

The first thing I do when paddling out on a sand bar beach is notice where the line up is. That is probably where the best waves are breaking. The second thing I do is look where the waves I want to catch are breaking. Sometimes I like the inside waves because there are more of them and less competition.

I luckily surf next to a Pier so I can mark with light poles on the Pier how far out the waves I want are breaking. Secondly, I line up where the wave is peaking with a landmark on the beach . Then I can return to that spot after riding a wave in.

When a wave is entering my zone I start paddling. If I am in the right spot, I can slowly start paddling toward shore or toward the corner of the wave if I am not going to catch it at the apex. I have to be sure someone is not already paddling for the wave between me and the apex.

When the wave gets close I have to paddle harder so that I get into the arc as it rises above me. When it gets closer, I paddle as hard as I can and even kick. The faster I am going, the easier it is to get on the face. If I am on the face, the pop up is easy.

I like to avoid chasing it from behind as it goes under me. This gives me a limited amount of time to get on the face and soon the face will get real steep. Also as the face gets steep the rest of the wave will start closing out.


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