How to ride an artificial wave

September 25, 2019 | Surfing
Artificial waves: they're not quite like ocean waves | Photo: Cestari/WSL

Wave pools can be tricky to master.

Are you about to hit a wave pool for the first time in your surfing life? Are you anxious about not enjoying all the rides to the fullest?

Worry not. Artificial waves are a product of technology, but they're waves like those that peel down the line at our home break.

Nevertheless, and despite being relatively predictable, man-made waves hide their inner secrets and should be approached with a slightly different mindset.

After all, each missed wave is a hit in your wallet.

And remember: freshwater is not seawater. You'll find it more difficult to float in wave pools because chlorine water is less dense than sea water.

1. Study the Wave

Observe where it starts to form, pay attention to the moment it begins to break, analyze the steepness of the wall as it evolves down the line

Try to establish a few patterns in your mind, so that when your turn comes, you'll know where to wait for the wave, when to paddle, and when to take off.

Watch how your fellow wave pool surfers take the most out of each ride, and dissect their mistakes.

Browse a few online videos and make sure you've done your homework.

Artificial waves: it is harder to float in fresh water | Photo: Wavegarden

2. Check Out Wind Speed and Direction

In normal circumstances, in a surf pool, all waves are similar to one another.

They break on the same place and offer equal opportunities over and over again.

However, there's a variable that could change everything - the wind.

There's a huge difference between surfing artificial waves on an offshore, no wind or onshore day.

So, you'll need to adapt on the fly, just like in the natural environment, i.e., the ocean.

The wind affects the lip, so adjustments are crucial.

3. Triangulate

Now that you've paddled out, you need to make sure you've chosen the right spot to wait for the artificial wave.

After selecting your ideal take-off zone, determine where you are for future memory use.

Look left, look right and behind you and identify a few fixed structures that will help know where to drop an anchor and wait for the upcoming opportunity.

Wave pools: you're paying to play, so make sure you study the artificial wave beforehand | Photo: AWM

4. Don't Take Too Many Risks

As with ocean waves and spots that you never surfed, you've got to take it easy.

Avoid giving everything you have in your first rides. Take your time to get in sync with the rhythm of the basin.

Start your wave pool experience with a conservative approach and slowly evolve your style and ride until you understand the wave's formula.

5. Focus On Yourself, Forget Everyone Else

Wave pools are relatively closed outdoor environment. It's not like being out in the ocean, surrounded by Nature and city buildings.

As a result, there will be more people watching or dissecting each wave. Ultimately, they'll observe each one of your ride and performance.

And that could exert unconscious pressure on your shoulders.

The trick is to let yourself go and enjoy the moment.

Relax and focus on the wave face that is in front of your eyes. Draw your lines smoothly and cherish each opportunity with a smile.

After all, you're paying to experience a unique form of wave riding.

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