Understanding the Waves

Before you tackle surfing it often helps if you understand how the waves work before trying to surf them. Many people underestimate the power and speed of some of the waves which could lead to a fatal accident. Each wave will vary in size, speed, and power so you should always be aware of your capabilities and never try to surf a wave you are not confident about.
The wind conditions can affect the quality of the waves which is why you should check it before paddling out into the open sea.

Offshore winds are ideal in the surfing world, they will provide waves that are smooth and rideable opposed to an onshore wind which can ruin a surfing session.

There are different variations of wave breaks which you should be aware of. Although the wave break is mainly influenced by the storms out at sea there are still a lot of factors that could change the way it breaks when it begins to reach land. In total there are three different types of wave breaks, beach break, reef break and point break.

If you are a beginner you should look out for common spots that have beach breaks, this is when the wave breaks onto a sand bar. They are often much small and smoother to ride. A reef break is when the waves break over rocks or reefs making them much choppier and harder to ride, beginners should stay away from these. Point breaks are the most popular and favoured in the surfing world, this is when they break over certain dips in the land. Be sure to do your research of the different hot spots so you know what to expect when you arrive.

Once the wave has broken it’s the ocean floor that will influence the shape, size and speed of the wave heading for land. The bigger the wave you can guarantee it will be harder to ride as it will become unsteady so if you are a beginner avoid waves that are out of your comfort zone.

There are three forms of a wave, surging, spilling and plunging. A surging wave is more practical for beginners, they tend to roll onto the beach instead of heavily crashing into the wave as it becomes too fast for itself. A spilling wave is when the crest spills onto the front of the wave, this is because the forward speed is faster than the speed of the wave on a whole. The last form, plunging, is the type of wave that you should avoid if you are a beginner.

You will have seen these on the TV and movies, it’s when a tube shape is formed in the wave. You can perform various tricks and manoeuvres on this type of wave.

With all this in mind you can be sure to understand how the waves work the more you surf, the only real practice you can get is to grab your surfboard and get in the water. Just make sure you target the smaller ones at first.