- 06 April 2017 | Surfing
Choosing a wave is easy, but picking a good wave requires using our brain and experience. In the end, it's all about maximizing our time in the water and having fun. Take a look at everything you need to know about wave selection.
In surfing, wave selection is an art, and it usually draws the line between beginners and intermediate/advanced surfers. For beginner surfers, waves are often all the same, and everything goes down to how big it is because they don't know how to read waves.
But if you're more into quality over quantity, then you should begin focusing on advanced wave selection methods. It comes with age and experience, and it pushes you to become a better surfer.
Wave selection has several impacts on your surf session. The first and most obvious one is that you ride better and longer waves. Then, you'll also need less physical effort to paddle for a wave. And that will save you a lot of energy.
Ultimately, you'll lose fewer waves, and you won't need to ask a crowded lineup permission to ride. Let's see how you can improve wave selection in surfing:
1. Watch how the swell build in the horizon: before paddling out and while in the water, observe the arrival of the waves, and where you should be to catch them;
2. Monitor the lineup: watch who's getting the best waves, why they're scoring, and where can you find a balanced quality wave/crowd factor ratio;
4. Calculate the average wave period: try to mentally clock the time between sets, so that you know and feel when to go;
5. When in doubt, paddle earlier: if you notice that the right wave is coming for you, initiate your paddling maneuvers and position yourself in the ideal spot;
6. Scan and study potential peak alternatives: get a Plan B, in case your favorite take-off zone is getting crowded or less perfect;
7. Confirm your optimal positioning: make regular triangulation analysis to ensure you're in the sweet spot;
8. Be discreet: don't yell, whistle or draw attention to an incoming quality wave - you can also pretend you're taking the first roller of the set to mislead others and ride the second one;
9. Learn more about the different types of waves: there are four main types of breaking waves, and you must know when and where to be to ride them efficiently;
10. Feel the wind changes in speed and direction: the wind has a profound impact on the waves, so try to make sure you adapt to the constant shifts that occur throughout your surf session.
11. Spot the effects of sand banks or rocky bottoms in the breaking of the waves: the interaction between tides and the ocean floor can change the wave riding conditions of surf break in less than an hour - pay attention to the subtle variations taking place in your favorite peak;
12. Be patient and cold-blooded: it's never easy to watch other score dozens of waves, but many times it is worth waiting;
13. Paddle in to reassess the conditions: take a new and updated look from the beach at how the breaking of the waves changed since you've paddled out;
14. A three-foot gem is better than a six-foot closeout: if the inside zone is pumping perfect-peeling waves, don't think twice - go for it;
15. Go for the peak: surfers who don't position themselves on the take-off zone are losing wave riding potential;
Need quantity over quality? Discover a few tips to increase your wave count.