Have you ever watched a fellow surfer getting all the good waves and thought to yourself, if only I could get one of those? There are tons of reasons why another surfer might consistently catch better waves than you. For example, he or she might know the surf spot better, have more experience in wave reading, be particularly lucky that day, or have a better paddle technique. If you find yourself asking the above question, these surfing tips for getting the perfect wave may just be the answer. Remember these tips to better understand how to read the ocean and waves, thus allowing you to be in the right place at the right time to catch that perfect wave.
Watch for the right waves
Right when you get to the beach, watch the ocean’s waves. Before you paddle out, try to get an idea of what you’re about to paddle out into. Look for the waves that seem the most fun to you. Watch how big and consistent the waves are and look for mellower channels between the waves that could possibly be used to paddle out more easily.
Sit in the right spot
When you paddle out, remember that where you decide to sit will greatly affect the quality of waves that come your way. While waiting out in the lineup, ask yourself these questions:
Are you sitting in the right spot?
Where do you take off?
Are you going for the right waves?
While respecting the ethics of surfing (Rules of the Road) and the crowd, you want to place yourself as close to the peak as possible. Sitting close to the peak (highest point of the wave), especially when it's not crowded, will ensure you catch longer, more enjoyable waves. Many surfers who are new to the sport mistakenly sit too far on the shoulder, taking themselves out of position for the best waves.
As you can see in the image above, surfer A is sitting in an ideal position closest to the peak, while surfer B is sitting out on the shoulder.
Take off in the right area
Sitting in the right spot will also make it easier to take off in the right area. Like where you sit, you want to take off as close to the peak as possible. On crowded days, this will ensure that you maintain priority of the wave and get the longest most enjoyable wave possible.
Know the basic characteristics of a wave
Once you’ve identified the peak of the wave you want to catch and you’ve paddled to said peak, you need to be patient and pick the perfect wave. To do so, it’s important to be familiar with a wave’s basic characteristics.
The above image depicts the characteristics of a wave you need to be most familiar with. Starting at the top, you can see both a Right and a Left. These are the terms surfers use for waves breaking in a given direction.
The second image depicts what a surfer’s “Perfect Wave” looks like. It is called an A-Frame, which is defined and named due to its symmetrical shape.
Next down is a peak at a more “Typical Wave” that a surfer might see at their local break. Notice the faster and slower designations. The right is labeled as being faster because the face of the wave is more drawn out and longer. The left, however, is a bit shorter and stubbier. Be considerate of these variations in the wave. Depending on your ability and the equipment you are riding, you may want a faster section or slower section.
Lastly, we have the “Closeout” which is the wave you want to avoid. Closeouts are synonymous with injury and broken equipment such as snapped leashes or boards.
Landing the perfect wave can take a lot of practice. To ensure that you’re ready when the time comes, you can hone your surfing skills using Ebb & Flo’s rail-to-rail surf balance boards. Our surf training board will help you improve your style, fluidity, stability, balance, pocket placement, and other skills necessary to land your dream wave. To start improving your surfing technique, shop Ebb & Flo today.