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2 December, 2011

Look and Learn

It often amazes me how many surfers sit out of the back and watch waves coming towards them, but don’t think to visually follow the wave from the back as it peels down the line.

This is how you learn the art of reading waves!

Lots of beginner and intermediate level surfers tell me that it’s difficult to learn how to read an approaching wave. But a big part of their problem is that they are only looking at half the picture. Likewise I’m often surprised at how many decent surfers will take off on a wave that’s an obvious close out. Their in-ability to predict what the wave was going to do can be less than their actual surfing ability.

I’ll touch on how to read waves in future posts. But for now, remember this simple rule:-

-Watch the wave as it approaches.
-Watch the wave as it breaks.
-Watch the wave until it’s finished.

If you do that, the rest is a memory game. You remember the shape of the wave as it approached. Then you remember how that particular shape actually broke.

-Shape A breaks like this.
-Shape B breaks like that.
-Shape A is not really the kind of wave I want.
-Shape B is.
-Here comes a shape A wave. Should I catch it?
-Answer is no. I am waiting for shape B.

As I said, it’s a simple memory test. Sure there might be a lot of shape variations… maybe a whole alphabet full. We can touch on the subtleties to look for later. But even with lots of different shaped waves, it’s still requires a you to play the memory game.

And keep it objective. Too often we get caught up in subjective, emotional or irrational wave choice. Stay disciplined. Eg: I know shape B is the best. So wait. If shape A comes, there can be a million reasons to catch it, but if it’s not the shape B that you want, the answer is a very simple NO. Stay put and wait.

So keep watching every wave from the BACK as it peels down the line. Become a good observer. Conditions change all the time. Stay on top of those changes. Train your eye to discern the subtleties.

Your ability to differentiate between which waves broke well and which ones didn’t will lead to a heightened ability to choose the right one EARLY as it approaches.

This of course means you’ll catch better waves. More of them. More often.


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