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28 June, 2012

Blight of the Nose Dive

Today’s tip is aimed more at the beginners in our readership. Or for that matter, all of us when we’re having a bad day and we revert back to ‘beginnerism’.

I’m talking about the nose-dive or pearl. Aggghhhh. Don’t you just hate it?

To make it worse, the causes can be varied.

Now it’s possible that you are simply lying too far forward on your board. But that’s kind of common sense after an hour or so and it’s rare that you’d do that repeatedly.

More likely, your weight could be too far forward on your board relative to the steepness of the wave. If the wave is looking very steep all of a sudden, this is danger time. Lift your chest and arch your back to transfer weight back temporarily. This keeps the nose higher – just while in that critically steep part. But don’t stop paddling. Always keep paddle momentum while you are arching.

Another common cause is simply standing up too late. Again, this is a problem relative the steepness of the wave. You should aim to stand up early and quickly. This transfers more weight back (to your rear foot) and keeps the nose out of the H2O.

Yet another cause can be dropping too straight down a short, steep wave on a long board that does not fit the tight curve of the wave face. The answer is simple – commence your angle across the face EARLIER. It’s almost impossible to pearl while you are angling, simply because your nose never reaches the bottom of the wave where it’s easy to plough.

When beginners get frustrated after repeated episodes of ‘over the handle bars’, common sense says you need to slide your body back further on your board. However this is almost always wrong! Yes .. wrong. Typically, beginners over-compensate and lie too far back, making their plight worse because now they are dragging the tail, paddling slower and consequently will only catch waves at their steepest, most critical point. Not what the doctor ordered. It totally exacerbates the situation.

So… instead of lying back too far here’s a summary of what you should do:-

-look behind
-observe the wave
-learn to read wave nuances so you can anticipate the steepness
-paddle in hard
-lift chest up if needed
-stand up early
-turn and angle across the face asap.

One problem that will frustrate you is that one singular approach may work for this wave but not for the next. So it’s hard to work out what you’ve done wrong. That’s why surfing is so darn difficult – because every wave and situation is slightly different.

But hey – imagine how crowded the surf would be if learning it was easy?


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