How to escape the whitewater and catch unbroken waves

How to escape the whitewater

We all reach that point with surfing where we get a bit stuck and frustrated. One of the most common stages, particularly as a beginner, is when you want to break free of the whitewater.

We’ve all been there. The whitewater’s a great place to practice your pop-up and it’s where we’re all taught to surf. It’s safe for learning and building up your confidence. It’s fun for a while, but then the boredom sets in and we realise we’re not actually getting anywhere. Besides, we’ve seen the shredders in the line-up, and they look like they’re having heaps more fun!

So if you want to roll with the big kids and improve your surfing, it’s time to leave the beginner’s playground behind.

Here’s our top tips for getting out of the whitewater, into the line-up and onto unbroken waves;

Have a surf lesson

One to one coaching is a great first step to leaving your whitewater days behind. You’ll get expert tips on how to get past the breaking waves and where to sit in the line-up.

It will boost your confidence if you’re nervous and you’ll have the added bonus of paddling alongside a qualified lifeguard.

Choose the right day

Ok so it’s a bit of an ask here in the UK but choose a small day (1-2ft) when it’s clean. Even picking a sunny day will make all the difference – it’ll boost your mood and get you way more fired up than a grey, gloomy day.

Equally, you want a day when the swell period’s good and there’s gaps in the sets so you can take your time to paddle out. Swell period is such an overlooked factor when checking the surf forecast. Basically, the swell or wave period is the time (in seconds) between successive waves. Anything around 10 seconds and above is deal.

Be patient and don’t rush it. It’s pointless going in when it’s too big for you to handle. It could put you off and result in you getting pounded by the sets.

Take a foamie or longboard

On a 1-2ft clean day, you’ll need a foamie or longboard to catch waves anyway. But when you’re going for unbroken waves, where you need more momentum, it will help you get into the wave earlier. It’s also way less of an effort to paddle to catch the wave, especially when you’re perhaps not used to it.

Ditch the whitewater wade

Ok hands up. Do you walk out with your board by your side until it’s about chest high? Then, whilst still standing on the sea bed you turn your board around when you see the wave coming? Then hop on your board, paddle, ride, and then repeat?

It’s a common sight in the whitewater and is probably born out of nervousness of getting into deeper water. But if you’re determined to get out back, you need to stop wading in the whitewater. You need to build up your paddle power to get out back which, if you surf regularly you’ll build up quickly and notice a huge difference.

Surf with someone who’s done it

Surfing with a friend who’s broken through the whitewater rut will motivate and encourage you. There’s no point in taking your whitewater buddies if they’re too nervous. It won’t help you to break outside your comfort zone.

Seeing your shredding friend zoom off out back will fire you up to follow them. If they can do it, so can you!

Improve your surf fitness

Remember what we said out ditching that whitewater wade? It’s a great incentive to build your strength especially if you get noodle arms and tire easily. Improving your fitness will boost your confidence when it comes to handling yourself out back – you’ll feel better prepared to take on whatever mother nature throws at you.

The best fitness for surfing is of course surfing. But if you’re not getting in everyday, you’ll need a different approach. Hit your local swimming pool and build up your strength with weights.

Surf little and often

No two days in the surf are the same. It’s easy to lose momentum and if you don’t surf often enough, you’ll just keep going over old ground. It’s a bit like taking one step forward then three steps backward.

Surf as often as you can and acknowledge what you’ve achieved. Once you feel confident in regularly getting into the line-up on a 1-2ft day, encourage yourself to go a bit bigger. Keep building momentum and before you know it, you’ll be dominating the line-up in head high waves!

Beat the crowds

The line-up can be an intimidating place for a newbie, particularly when it’s crowded. So if you feel a bit self conscious or intimidated, head for dawnies or evening surf’s when it’s a little quieter.

Having said that, safety should be top of your agenda, especially if you’re surfing alone so stick to a lifeguarded beach (and hours) to start with. That way, you know someone’s always got your back.

Have patience and fun!

Don’t try and run before you can walk. Start small and set yourself realistic goals that you can stick to, like catching one unbroken wave each session, or reaching the line-up once. Then increase it and build on it. Acknowledge your achievements and when you do get out back, take a few moments to soak it in and appreciate it.

To start with, you may struggle to get through the whitewater, sit in the wrong place or lack the upper body strength to get into the wave. Don’t be too hard on yourself and recognise that this could take months of determination.

Stick at it, enjoy the wipeouts and have fun in the process!


Image credit: Lonewolf Alpha Coders via Pixabay

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