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Surfing - How to Catch and Ride a Wave

Sep 10, 2008
Wait! Be sure you choose well. The waves you want are not too large and not too small.

Too small and they won't have enough power to carry you into the shore. It will be harder to stay upright on the board if your speed is too low. This paradox is easily understood. Think of riding a bicycle. It's easy to remain upright when pedaling, very hard when you are traveling too slowly.

A wave that is too large for your skill level and, at some point, that's true of everyone will push you off the board. Waves roughly 3-4 feet high (1-1.5 m) are about right for most beginners. Those who have a little more natural good balance can go a little higher, sooner.

Now that you've chosen the wave, lie on the board facing shore and start paddling, hard. Use a crawl stroke, left arm, right arm, left arm again. Never both at once. Build up as much momentum as possible, looking over your shoulder from time to time to judge the wave speed and direction.

You want to catch the wave when the swell just starts to lift you up. At the critical moment, execute the pop-up. A pop-up is the movement from the lying to the crouching position. As you start to stand, the board will move down into the water slightly. Try to keep the nose slightly higher than the tail in order to avoid it going down and under the water, and you with it.

As you hit your feet, your force will press the board down. Keep more weight on the rear than the front and allow the buoyancy of the board to lift you back up to the surface. Stay balanced near the midpoint of the board and focus your eyes ahead, not down. If you watch your feet, you'll fall.

Hey, you're surfing! Now get ready to ride.

Keep your eyes focused in the direction you want to go and swivel your hips gradually to cause your feet and weight to follow. That pushes your rail (the outer edge of the surfboard) down at the correct angle.

Lean your weight slightly in the direction you want to travel. Dipping the surfboard at a shallow angle will generate a reaction force that moves you in the direction you want to go. Take care not to make it steep or you'll tend to rotate. If you turn at too great an angle, you're much more likely to fall off. Not good.

Aim for riding down the face of the wave. For the relatively short waves that are right for a beginner this is pretty much like riding near the crest. Save the curl riding for later, when you have more experience. It will give you something to aim for.

Last but not least, always wear sun protection swimwear and a sun hat when going out surfing.
About the Author
J Edmond have been working in the sun protection clothing industry for several years. The main aim is to raise awareness of the sun' UV radiation and it's effect on human skin. Click here for more info about sun protection swimwear and UV protective clothing.
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