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