Nov
18

Moving From Surfing Foam to Real Waves

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When I teach Surf Lessons in Oceanside, new students start with riding foam waves. The basics you learn to ride foam can be used to ride big waves. You start with learning to balance prone on the board, handling the board in waves, catching waves, and doing a pop up to ride the wave.AngleonWave

I progress students from riding the inside smaller foam waves to paddling outside to catch the bigger waves after they break and riding those to the beach. The big waves are faster and then the ride is longer. At the same time, I have students looking for opportunities to ride real waves.

On an 8′ soft top board, an inside wave breaks too steep to usually ride down the face. The board has to be angled toward the open pocket like you see surfers do on the outside. You want to position the board in front of where the foam comes over the lip, called the Apex, and paddle in front of where the wave is breaking so that it picks up the board. The pop up is the same and you just hold fast and drive the wave down the pocket.

On the outside, you can start riding two to three foot waves down the face. The downward tilt and speed freak new students out but you have to get used to it and accept its part of the learning process. Learning when you can ride down the face and when you have to catch the angle so as not to pearl comes with experience of recognizing waves.

Every wave is different. You are also learning to paddle and time the wave. On the outside I get a general idea of where the waves I want are breaking. When a wave starts to form I have to be sure that I will have the right of way and that another surfer is not on the inside with better position. (The surfer closest to the Apex has the right of way). Then I decide whether to paddle out, parallel, or toward the beach to have the arc come under my board.

This requires years of practice and even then we don’t always get every wave right. The practice of foam and real waves is similar. Get moving before the wave arrives. I kick and paddle as do most surfers. When the wave has the board, you then proceed through the smooth pop up.

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by Mark Kaplan, Surf Instructor

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Learning the Physical, Technical and Psychological stepping stones to becoming an Advanced Surfer

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