Author Archives: pureline

Rock On

Some surf spots can only be (or are best) accessed by jumping off a rocky outcrop, reef or cliff.  Rock jump entries, when they go well, can save you a lot of time and hassle….however when they go wrong…they go very wrong.

Over the past few months I’ve been surfing spots that are new to me and require a rock jump to get out to the surf…or at least save a huge amount of time. I’m lucky enough to have experience (daily rock jumps in front of my old house) to be pretty confident working out all the factors of the access and make a good risk assessment, thus I got away unscathed.
In this time, I also saw other surfers mistime/misplace their jumps and get dragged across rocks (fortunately only with scrapes), but seriously dinging boards.  This got me thinking, what are these unlucky folks doing wrong and what am I doing differently?

Here are some tips to avoid being that guy…

Watch and Learn

If it’s your first time surfing a spot take some time to study where other surfers are getting in and out.  Watch how they are timing the sets and note exactly where they jump from.  Take your time to do this. In my experience, you are a lot more patient when you don’t have a board under your arm, so do a surf check/rock jump assess before getting all your gear.

Risk/Reward

Probably the most important one.  You really need to weigh up how much paddling time the rock jump is going to save you.  If the jump looks sketchy and the paddle out does not look that bad…paddle, unless you are confident.

Tides

A safe easy rock jump can turn into a rocky nightmare a few hours later, risk assess it each time.

Escape Plan

As you are making your way down to where you jump off point is make sure you know where you are going to run to if a hasty retreat is needed.

Timing

A lot of this comes from watching and learning as above.  In most cases you want to wait until the biggest set of the day to pass through the lineup and jump after the last set wave…avoiding getting smashed.

Don’t be a lemming

Don’t just jump off a rock at the same time as someone else because they have decided to go…make your own decision.  They might completely mistime it.

Onto not into

Almost without exception you want to jump onto the top/back side of a wave so you have a bit of water between you and the rocks below.

Commit

Once you have done all of the above its so important that when you decide its time to go…you commit.  Even if you think its going wrong…most of the bad ones I have seen have been when someone is caught in two minds.

Enjoy

I love the excitement of a good sketchy rock jump (when it all goes right) and there is a pretty smug feeling when your sitting out the back, hair still dry, watching other surfers fight their way out through the relentless whitewater or watching the next crop of rock hoppers lining up their jump.

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Fit To Surf?

Anyone who knows me is aware of the fact, that I am, by no means, an athlete. However, I am fortunate enough to be able to surf everyday, which keeps me in OK surf shape. I can paddle for hours and catch most of the waves I want, in any conditions. Ask me to run to the store and back it becomes a very different story; I will return a breathless, tired, sweaty mess. So, clearly I would not be the first pick to represent my country in a half marathon that’s for sure, but if they needed someone to paddle through white-water for 4 hours I think I would be a strong candidate.

This is an example of sport specific fitness.

To perform to your maximum potential in any sport, athletes have to put in hours/weeks/years of training to become better, faster, stronger than their competition. This is also true in modern competitive surfing. Nearly all the guys currently on the world tour have personal trainers. Consequently the level of surfing is truly amazing.

Now, I am not writing this telling everyone to get down to the gym and do 300 sit ups a day because, to the recreational surfer, this won’t apply (although it may be a good idea…myself included). I am writing this as a reminder to get fit before a surf trip so that you can surf longer and catch more waves. Which I think will guarantee you a better and more memorable surf trip. In my experience of surf coaching and guiding over the last 15 years it’s usually someone’s surf fitness that lets them down.

Did your last 7 day surf trip go like this?

Day 1

Super amped to surf, but it was harder to paddle than you remembered so you missed a few good waves. But you’re stoked…you surfed somewhere new.

Day 2

Paddling is feeling better, its but you’re still not able to catch as many waves as you want. Feeling a bit tired on the second surf.

Day 3

Usually the best day, your paddling feels good, your catching the waves you want….life is good.

Day 4

Another good day, shoulders are feeling it, but you are still getting great waves…maybe you decide on skipping the last surf and have a massage. Note: This is also the day that all the rashes and sunburn kick in.

Day 5

Tired, starting to miss a lot of waves, getting a little frustrated. Guys will usually have back or neck problems.

Day 6

Deep down you are getting tired now, you’re putting on a brave face in front of your mates, but surfing feels like work.

Day 7

When will the paddling stop? Hopefully a few token waves to finish the trip.

Sound like you?

There’s a simple fix, which you all know already, you just forget to do it….

If you are lucky enough to live by a beach – surf, surf a lot, even if it sucks (no excuses) Make some good food choices. Remember to stretch. Get down to the pool and get some laps in. You will need a minimum of a 2 week lead-in for a week long surf trip.

If you’re landlocked it’s harder, but you just need to hit the pool…a lot! Alternate distance swimming and sprints. This is the closest you can get to re-creating going surfing. Stretch, eat the right food, get amped watching surf videos, go skateboarding. Do everything you can to get prepped for your trip. Again, you need a 2 week lead in minimum.

When people sign up to run a marathon, they train, because they want to get to the finish line. And when we book a surf trip we all daydream about the epic waves were going to ride. And if you get fit before your next trip, you’re far more likely to be the one catching and riding the best waves rather than floundering on the inside with tired arms.

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Look Behind You!

So…you’re out there in the lineup, you see a great wave coming towards you, you do a perfect pirouetted turn, lie down on your board and paddle as hard as you can towards the beach with the excitement building inside you for the amazing wave you about to catch…but rather than get the ride of your life, you end up doing a very dramatic nose dive. After the inevitable saltwater washing machine cycle, you resurface, get back onto your board and paddle back out wondering what the hell went wrong.

You could blame the wipeout on many, many things – board positioning, paddling to hard, not paddling enough, to name but a few. But before we start to break down the diagnostics of this disaster, think. Did you look back at the wave once you had committed to paddling for it? If you didn’t, this could be the problem.

A wave can, and will, change shape and character within just a few feet of travel. A mellow, friendly looking wave can near instantly jack up into a heaving death pit or vice versa. You have to keep an eye on what the wave is doing so you can adjust your paddle speed and positioning accordingly, even if this just means you know not to go.

A well-watched wave, even if it goes wrong, will make you better at being in the correct position in the future. If nothing else, at least you will know the wave is about to crash on your head rather than it being a nasty surprise!

So remember, when you’re paddling for a wave, all the exciting stuff is happening behind you…keep an eye on it!

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How To Become A Better Surfer Without Surfing

                                                                          Photo: Surfing Nosara, Surfer: Joe Szymanski

A few times over the the last two years, I’ve had the pleasure of coaching Joe Szymanski.  Although Joe spends the majority of the year landlocked and usually only takes one surf trip per year, he’s always stoked on surfing.  In the following blog, Joe shares some of his advice on how to make the most of limited time in the surf if you don’t have access to the ocean. 

How To Become A Better Surfer Without Surfing

Written by Joe H Szymanski

Yes, it sounds kind of funny, but I think I became a better surfer this year without surfing.  I’m one of those late-comers who got exposed and hooked on the sport (and broader lifestyle); but unfortunately, like many of us, I don’t have access to any nearby surfable waves — we feel lucky just to get out there and surf once or twice a year.  On reflecting back on a recent trip, here are some thoughts from one aging surfer on how I improved while out of the ocean.

Get in shape!

It’s stating the obvious, but surfing is a physically demanding activity.  General fitness and aerobic capacity are important to paddling strength, comfort on the board, holding your breath during a long hold-down, endurance needed to get back out through those extended close-outs, etc.  This part of a program can be totally unrelated to surfing (e.g. cycling, running, team sports, etc.), but it’s a good idea to complement it with exercise & activities that will be good cross-training for paddling. Short of some new paddling-specific training machines, the best overall choice is probably swimming.  A healthy dose of balance training & core strengthening will really help too.  (I prefer to use a homemade Indo Board, but there are lots of options available these days.)  While you may not have access to the surf, almost all of us can get to some recreational waterway (lakes, rivers, estuaries, etc.) where you can get out on a Standup Paddleboard (SUP) – a great “nose-to-toes” workout that helps with balance, board handling, and core & paddling strength.  And don’t forget to stretch and improve your flexibility.  This can go a long way to avoiding those annoying minor strains & muscle pulls that might make you think about skipping a session when you otherwise would have surfed.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot one of the most important things – practice your pop-ups!   A fast, clean pop-up is critical to starting a good ride, so do lots of reps on the floor to get conditioned, and help to commit the proper maneuver to “muscle-memory” so that it’s automatic out there in the line-up.  Try to do this exercise throughout the entire year (not just a week before your surf trip!).  Coaches Tip.

Read and watch

(Books and videos, that is).  In addition to the glossy surf mags, there are volumes of books, on-line blogs & forums, etc. providing a wealth of information on surfing-related topics.  For example, try to learn something about surfboard construction, rail shapes, or fin design.  While reference books & firsthand accounts are most helpful, you can find some entertaining surf fiction out there too.  The next time you’re watching a video or competition, try to ignore the bikinis, and focus on paying attention to technique, wave shape, board selection, etc.  If you get to the ocean, but can’t surf, you can still watch the waves & conditions to learn (how fast are they? where are the peaks? what’s the wind doing? are there any rips?).  In or out of the water, it’s always a good exercise to “mentally surf” the waves around you.

Keep a log / take notes.

A surfing journal can be as informal or organized as you like, but it’s a great way to “debrief” after a session or trip to collect your thoughts. Think through how conditions changed, why you missed waves, why you caught waves, what better surfers in the line-up were doing, etc.  Come up with a few key points to focus on for your next session.  Your notes can become a valuable reference in the future, but it’s also a fun way to relive that near-perfect Dawn Patrol session (or maybe that epic hold-down) and stay stoked.

Get involved off the water.

Whether it’s your local surf club, an international organization like Surfrider Foundation, an environmental group, etc. getting involved can help you stay connected with surfing during the off-season or your time away from the ocean.  These groups can also be great resources for broadening your circle of friends and expanding your surfing options.

Prepare for your trip.

Check the surf forecast and start getting mentally prepared.  Review what you want to focus on in the water and set some goals for yourself.  If you are taking any of your own gear (vs. renting), give it a quick inspection and make sure it’s good-to-go (when they only get used a few times a year, things have a way of dry-rotting & falling apart!).  Make sure you take the right gear & clothing to be comfortable in the anticipated conditions (water & air temperatures, sun protection, magic salves for board rash, etc.).

When you do get a chance to surf, take lessons!  Near most established breaks, you can always line up a certified instructor or coach who is suitable for your abilities. In hindsight, I realize how much valuable time I spent “flailing” on my own out in the water before taking my first lesson.  A little expert coaching is a great way to help identify your weaknesses & bad habits, reinforce your strengths, and get you “to the next level.”

For certain, there’s no substitute for getting out there and surfing, so do it every chance you get!  If you haven’t surfed in a year, you’ll need a few “dust off” sessions, but some of these tips will help you quickly pick up where you left off, maximize your time in the water, and charge forward.  None of these ideas are new or revolutionary, but hopefully you may find that a few of them will help you “up your game” as they did for me.  Have fun, be safe, be kind to your fellow surfers, show a healthy respect for the ocean, and go surf (when you can, that is…)!!!

Written by Joe H Szymanski

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Wax On – Wax Off


I know to many this seems like an obvious one, but I get asked these two questions a lot:

“What does the wax do?”

Surfboards are designed to be smooth and hydrodynamic, which is perfect for gliding through the water. But this slickness makes the board almost impossible to lie on (or stand on!) without slipping off! Surfboards need enough grip to enable the rider to have control of the board while paddling around and especially for when the rider is on their feet.

So to find a solution, surfers experimented with all sorts of things. Back in the days of wooden surfboards (early 1900′s) it was common practice for shapers to sprinkle sand onto the wet varnish to provide grip for the rider. This worked pretty well, but came with a big downside – imagine how brutal it would be lying bare-chested on sandpaper! SO in 1935 surfers discovered that paraffin floor wax provided good traction without the nasty side-effect of removing your nipples! The simple floor wax has since been refined by several companies into hundreds of different varieties to suit every water temperature and surf craft.

So, what does the wax do? Waxing the board gives you more grip without slicing your body to pieces!

“What’s the best way to wax a board?”

Like this…

There is no special trick to the perfect wax job, it’s usually just a case of not making any obvious waxing errors because wax does have a few downsides. It gets dirty, it melts, it gets stuck to everything and you never have a block of wax when you need one! So to make sure you stay stuck to your board you, need a good bit of wax management.

The 10 Wax Rules

1. Wax is for the deck (top of the board where you lie/stand on the board) not for the bottom, it will not make you go faster!!

2. Make sure the wax you’re using is for the right water temperature. Cold water wax will not work well in warm water (ends in a sticky mess) and warm water wax will not work well in cold water (not enough grip). If you want the perfect wax job try using a bit of base coat (hard wax) to build up nice grippy bumps before you put on a softer top coat so it’s nice and sticky.

3. Clean the wax off periodically to keep you board clean and light. Invest in a wax pickle (google them, amazing things). Wax goes bad after a while and a large build up is only making your board heavier.

4. Wax more of the deck than you think you need too. If you plan on nose riding…wax all the way to the nose. Shortboarders make sure you wax farther in front of where your front foot normally is – this will be usefull for landing rotation airs or moving forward in barrels (even if this seems like a pipe dream…it’s best to be prepared just in case!).

5. When travelling with boards it’s easy to get wax on the bottom of your board, use a wax comb or pickle and keep the bottom of your board clean. Make sure your boards are ready to go as fast as possible because you never know how soon the waves will be pumping!

6. There’s nothing worse than having a session ruined because you don’t have enough wax. Always keep a small chunk of wax in your boardies (or a whole bar in the car) for emergency top-ups.

7. There are 2 types of surfers, ones that always have wax and ones that never do. Make sure you’re not the one wandering the beach and wasting time asking everyone if they have any spare wax. But also don’t forget, that sharing is caring – when you see that desperate surfer racing up and down the beach, be their hero!

8. Keep your boards out of the heat and out of direct sunlight. A perfect wax job can turn to an icky mess in minutes if you leave your board wax-up to the sun (the same thing happens with boards in a hot car).

9. There is no trick to choosing wax just make sure it’s for the right water temperature and if you like the smell, buy it! You may find that there is a particular brand you prefer that works well in one ocean and not another (or this may just be in the mind!). Avoid coloured waxes – even though they look cool, they can stain your board!

10. This is the most important one. Always, always, always give your board a quick rub with wax before you enter the surf. This eliminates a classic excuse for poor performance before you even enter the water!

No Excuses

Surfing is hard. Wait, scratch that. Surfing is incredibly hard!

Being good at any sport takes a lot of time, practice and dedication. In an average session, you probably spend 95% of the time paddling around and getting hit by waves with only 5% of the time actually riding them. So, achieving quality time “on your feet” is a precious commodity that’s invaluable for improving your rate of progression.

This is why it blows my mind on how often people will write-off a potential surf because the waves are “too small”, the lineup’s “too crowded”, the waves are “a bit bumpy” or it’s “too windy”.

Granted, surfing is more fun when the waves are perfect. Everyone knows when you have glassy, peeling waves it’s easier to improve and surf well. That’s why we all crave great conditions and perfect waves. But if you wait around to surf only “perfect” conditions, you might spend weeks or months out of the water wasting precious practice time. So, although the surf might not be perfect, there’s always something you can learn from every session. What’s important is time spent in the water, practicing your sport.

So next time you think it’s “too small”, go grab a longboard or a big soft board and get out there and have some fun! Work on your wave count, experimenting with cross-stepping and foot movement, and staying in the pocket on slower waves. You’ll soon be laughing as you play around in the surf and getting precious “on your feet” time which will always serve you well in the future when the surf is better.

If the waves are “too crowded”, paddle out and get amongst it anyway! Make sure you’re confident with surf etiquette and see if you can position yourself for a good wave while you’re in the middle of the pack. Yes, a crowded line-up can be a bit frustrating, but it’s a necessary skill. Some of the best waves in the world are crowded (Uluwatu, Sunset, Pipeline etc) so if you want to surf a life-changing wave in one of these famous spots you need to be able to hustle.

When it’s a “bit bumpy”, get in there and practice picking the best waves from a confused line up and hone your wave reading skills. When the waves are really bad, it’s a great opportunnity to experiment with new moves because you won’t be wasting amazing waves if you fall off.

When it’s “too windy” and howling offshore you can practice your late take-offs, work on your rail surfing and keeping low to the board. And you never know, strong offshore conditions might throw out a little barrel or two! When the wind is onshore, the wave face is so varied that you will encounter many different sections where you can perform several manoeuvres on one wave. Most high performance aerial surfing is performed in onshore or cross shore surf and these waves, although not pretty, offer so much scope for improving your surfing. You’ll improve your wave reading skills, reflexes, and, if nothing else, the surf will build up your paddle muscles! However, occasionally (although it’s rare) it can be so windy that it’s dangerous to surf. So, then (and only then) it’s OK to pull the pin and come back later.

Think about how many amazing surfers are from areas with below par waves – the Hobgood Brothers, Cory Lopez, Kelly Slater, Layne Beachly. Even 2012 ASP world champions Joel Parkinson and Stephanie Gilmore grew up surfing in Queensland, which on occasion can be epic, but more often than not is home to small, weak and windy little beach-breaks. These surfers are as good as they are because they practiced often – even when it was small, crowded, bumpy and windy!

I can assure you, you’ll always feel better if you go for a quick surf than if you drive away from the beach with dry hair.

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Look Where You Want To Go

“Look where you want to go and you’ll go there”.

Sounds easy, doesn’t it?  However, one of the most common surfing mistakes is not looking where you want to go on a wave.  This is especially important when taking off on faster waves.

If you’re finding that you often get left behind in the whitewash as each wave peels perfectly ahead of you, it is usually caused by two things…

1 > Looking at the bottom/trough of the wave as you paddle into the wave.

2 > Looking down at the board when you pop up.

If you look straight down towards the bottom of a wave (or even worse, at the board) when you first catch a wave, you will naturally go where you are looking. Which, in this case, is straight to the bottom of the wave where, if you then look across the wave, you’ll have the unfortunate view of watching the wave peel away without you as you flap around in the whitewash.

Does this sound like you?  Luckily, this is an easy fix.

If you want to go across the wave (down the line) in faster surf you have to make sure look where you want to go.   When you feel you’re about to catch the wave, look roughly 15ft or so down the line (across the wave) and high on the face – this is exactly where you want to go to make the first section and get some speed.   Then with your eyes still focused on your target spot, pop up as normal keep the high line and enjoy the ride.

Coaching Tip : If you’re finding it hard to not look at your board as you take off try practicing your pop ups alternating focusing your vision to your left and right on land (using the corners of a room works well) to get your body used to the new movement.  Often when people practice pop ups on land they are so preoccupied thinking about foot placement they constantly look down… a good habit to get out of as early as possible!

If you manage to consistently take off on waves looking where you want to go, you will automatically stay higher on the wave face right from the start which in turn will give you more speed and help you ride faster waves successfully!

If you feel like you are managing to look down the line on take off but you are still only going straight, you probably have a foot placement or weighting issue….more of that later.

 

 

 

 

 

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Don’t Be Afraid Of Your Backhand

Working as a surf guide can be funny sometimes. You find perfect surf and half the people are happy and the other half…not so much. It seems most people are so much happier surfing on their forehand (facing the wave) and not on their backhand (back to the wave). You take a goofy footer to a perfect right and they have fun, but are begging to go to a left the next time they surf and vice versa.

Granted, surfing on your backhand and forehand are almost like two different sports due to the shape of your body and the direction your knees bend. However I think this difference is one of the real joys of surfing and not something to have a preference on. I love the feeling of doing big gouges on my forehand as much as I enjoy a solid BH bottom turn to reo combo; both offer different sensations and challenges, but are equally enjoyable. You’re limiting yourself as a surfer if you insist on surfing in only one direction. So, what is holding you back from surfing your backhand?

Taj Burrow at Chopes, Notice the shoulders are parallel with the rails rather than pointing nose to tail. Photo by Kristen Prisk

The most common reason people find surfing on their backhand difficult is due to how they hold their leading arm/shoulder. You’ll see this quite often in the surf, someone straining to look over their shoulder at the wave, sticking their butt out to counterbalance their arms which are both pointing towards the beach…this could be you. Luckily this is a very easy fix as it just takes a small adjustment to your stance. Think about the stance surfers use for backhand barrels, very low to the board with the shoulders parallel with the rails of the board, left arm to the left and right arm to the right.

Having open shoulders makes it far easier to view the wave and put weight either on the inside or outside rail. Next time you surf try to catch a few waves on your backhand and think about opening up your shoulder and position your leading arm on the same side as the wave face rather than the opposite side with your trailing arm…surfing on your backhand should have just got a whole lot easier! If you are serious about utilizing your backhand some professional coaching can speed up the learning curve.

I’m natural footed, I love right-handers and I have been lucky enough to have surfed amazing waves on my forehand like Anchor Point, Kirra, Coxos, Lobos, Sultans, Shipwrecks and so on. But for all the world-class rights there is a whole plethora of amazing lefts that you could miss out on like Pipe, Uluwatu, Honkys, Frigates, Desert Point etc. and there’s no way I’d be standing on the beach just because I’d have to surf my backhand!

Don’t limit yourself to going in one direction (think Zoolander), get out there and challenge yourself, go surf on your backhand, open the leading shoulder, get good at it and the next time a perfect wave comes through and it’s on your backhand you will be excited rather than disappointed.

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Autopilot

Turning Off The Autopilot

For those of us that surf often we can be guilty of surfing on autopilot most of the time. What do I mean by autopilot? Essentially, going through the motions during a surf session. You’re surfing on autopilot when you only surf the waves that you are comfortable with, perform the same manoeuvres wave after wave, and do the same thing you always do when you surf.

Every lineup has a surfer that you have seen surfing the exact same way on each wave they ride. They never fall, but then they never do anything that amazing either. They are just doing what they always do, going through the motions.

So if you’re that surfer, is there really anything wrong with that? In theory, no. If you have been doing the same thing for years and you’re having fun then its all good, right? Sure, but at the same time you might be seeing other surfers in photos, on surf videos or even at your local break doing amazing manoeuvres and thinking “why can’t I do that?”. Maybe it’s just a new way to hit an end section, going a bit more vertical off the top, or maybe you just admire someone’s “cojones” for taking off deep on big waves.

It’s easy to fall into the trap of just repressing these thoughts and stick to what you know and keep surfing on autopilot for the rest of your session. Instead, try to dream big. For 20 minutes of every session get out of your comfort zone, try the new move that you have been dreaming of, take off deeper on a set wave, try hitting the lip a bit harder! And don’t worry if you fall off! In fact, be happy that you have – if you are falling, you have turned off the autopilot and you’re trying something new! And when trying something new, you’re bound to make some mistakes which will help you figure out how to improve. If you’re struggling to figure out a technique, it’s never to late to get some professional coaching ; ).

After 20 minutes of bravely facing the unknown, then its fine to go back to your regular routine, but if you can spend 20 minutes concentrating on a new skill you will soon see a big difference in your surfing (and surprise everyone at your local break!).

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Foam Is Your Friend

Extra Volume In Your Board Can Mean More Waves For YouShortboards are sexy, sleek looking things that are the definition of surfboard performance.

They easily fit under your arm, they slide into any-size car, and they’re what all the guys on the world tour are riding.  This makes short boards seem very desirable.

Because of this, a large percentage of surfers either prematurely move down in board size (before they have the ability) or are currently riding boards that are too small for them.   You often see surfers strutting down to the waters edge with a small, shiny new board under there arm. They paddle out, still looking great…  and then don’t catch a single wave in 2 hours.

If you are using a board that is too small, you’ll be spending entire sessions watching people around you catch loads of waves while you are missing every wave you paddle for. Frustrating! This could partly be down to your wave reading skills, but there is a good chance poor board selection is creating the low wave count.

Small (low volume) boards are amazing to use if you are at peak surf fitness, can generate your own speed on a wave, and are comfortable with super late takeoffs.  If you can’t do those things and are riding a small board, you are probably using unsuitable equipment and could be massively slowing down your rate of progression.  Some time spent on a larger board could really pay off.  Note: a larger board is a board with more volume (float), not necessarily longer.

So what does extra volume do for you?

1) Gives you a higher paddle speed. 2) Helps you glide over fat sections. 3) Gets you into waves earlier. 4) Increases your wave count. 5) Makes the board more forgiving to use (foot placement etc. is not so critical). 6) Makes paddling easier if you are not “paddle fit”. 7) Enables the board to carry more speed down the line.

Overall more volume in a board makes surfing easier.

“You can’t ride what you can’t catch”

 -Lulu Wiegers

Things to consider…

Wave Count

If you are catching less than 60% of the waves that you paddle for it may be worth considering using a bigger (higher volume) board.  Once you make the switch you should soon be catching more waves.  The more time spent on a bigger board > the more waves you’ll catch > the better you get.   As you get better (catching 60% + of waves paddled for) you can then get back onto a smaller board.

You May Have To Step Back to Step Forwards

If you are sinking on some waves or just getting sometimes getting left behind, try going back onto a bigger board just for a session or two and see how it feels. During the first surf on a larger board you will probably be catching more waves than you have done in ages, able to make more sections/waves and have the speed to do some turns.

Remember,  If you can turn a big old longboard you can turn anything!!  Spending time on a bigger board will always help your surfing in the long run. When you have mastered the “big ‘un” and you want to move back down in board size you will actually be able to make the most of the extra maneuverability a smaller board has (maneuverability, duck dives etc.), rather than just languishing in its disadvantages (low paddle speed etc.).

The right time to go onto a different/smaller board is when the board you’re riding is holding you back.

Wave Type

If you are surfing small, fat, slow, mushy waves you need to be riding a board with large volume to allow you to catch waves and cruise over fat sections (not steep).  If it is big and hollow you may also need a high volume board to get enough paddle speed to get you over the ledge (catching a late steep wave).

Feel The Glide

Longboards or Mini-Mals are a great option for those that don’t get the chance to surf often or who are not surf fit because they allow you to maximize the number of waves you can catch per session.  The other bonus is they go well in smaller surf which is what most of us deal with day to day at our local spot (OK, I am a bit lucky on this one).  Mini-Mal’s or Longboards are a perfect board choice to help you get the feel of gliding across a wave and maybe starting to experiment with turning.

Get Your Calculators Out

It’s now possible to calculate how much volume you need in a board for your personal weight and ability.   Have a go on the volume calculators provided by Channel Island Surfboards (Al Merrick) and Firewire , see if you are currently surfing something close to their recommended volumes.  Note: Use these calculators as a guideline and maybe take an average for best results (they vary).

Enjoy it!

At the end of the day, surfing is about having fun.  If you can make it easier for yourself and catch more waves, why not?  Get out there on a bigger board!  They may not look as sleek and they wont fit in the car,  but your surfing will improve more quickly and you’ll probably have a far bigger smile on your face at the end of the day!

“Foam Is Your Friend”

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