Dropping in on Big Oceanside Surfing Waves


New students in my Oceanside Surf Lessons begin with riding foam waves to the beach. As they advance, they start paddling out to ride bigger foam waves. This is usually coupled with looking for the opportunity to catch JulyStormsmall real waves at an angle.

I have had students do all of this in one lesson, but it is not common. Students vary in their capability of hearing instructions and being able to get their body to follow those instructions. Surfing technique is a combination of a lot of small skills that have to all come together at the right time.

Catching real waves once you can ride a board in a stable manner is about learning timing and accepting both the down angle of the board as it drops and accepting the increase in speed you haven’t experienced. To catch real waves, I suggest students paddle to where they notice the waves they want are breaking. In a surfing line up, surfers will be congregated together and then often spread out when the waves are breaking in several spots.

Where they sit is a combination of what waves they want and the board they are surfing. A short board needs to catch the wave as it is steep in order to power their low volume board. An 8′ soft top can catch waves earlier or further out unless the waves are only forming in one spot. When they are steep, there is no further out.

I like to be facing sideways to the wave so when I see it I make an immediate judgment whether I have to paddle out, parallel to where it will break, or paddle toward the beach to catch it. This comes with experience. I also want to be moving as fast as possible as I intercept it and man often kick to give me more momentum. As the wave comes under me, the faster I am going, the easier it is to get in front of it and do a nice pop up.

Beginners have difficulty wanting to get in front of the wave. They want to paddle over the top of it and catch up to it. This results in more crashes than necessary. Advanced surfers are sitting in the right spot and let the wave come under them and then paddle into the face right next to the apex (where the foam appears at the top) and then angle into the pocket.

The steeper the wave, the more momentum the wave creates and the less you have to paddle. It is literally going to throw you so you want to get down the face at the right time. Many of the sand bar beach breaks right now are open for a short ride and then close out. You make a choice as whether to go back over the top, throw yourself into the closing face, or head to shore and try to out run it.

Many surfers want to ride it as long as possible so they just accept the wave crashing on top of them. Taking spills are part of this routine so you learn to relax and just roll with tumbles.


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