SurfGirl Tips: Reading Waves
Words by Corinne Evans. Sunset photos by Megan Hemsworth
Hints and tips on how to become wave savvy
Watch them from the beach
Rushing into the surf is easily done, when you’re all excited and want to get in and start catching waves but if you’re still learning to read the waves make sure you spend a bit of time on the beach before paddling out back. Give yourself time to watch the waves and see what they are doing. Sand banks on beaches can change daily and it can be hard to keep track of what the banks are doing on your local beach. That’s why it’s important to watch the surf before heading in. This way you will be able to identify the rips and peaks. It will allow you to best decide where to paddle out.
Learn about the beaches you surf
It’s ok to ask questions, even if you may think it’s a silly question that might get laughed out, still ask, no one will laugh at you, we’ve all got to start somewhere. If you don’t ask you don’t get and this applies to surfing too. Ask a friend, someone in the line up, a lifeguard or surf school on the beach. They can give you some local knowledge about where to paddle out, where might be best to sit or a landmark to line yourself up with when sat out back.
Follow the crowd
Watch the surfers in the water and see where the paddle to. You will find the best surfers in the line up very rarely stay in one place. They will paddle around all over the place, hunting down waves. As soon as they see a peak on the horizon they will paddle straight to it and this is what you should do as well. It’s ok the follow the crowd when you’re first learning to read the waves, and when you feel comfortable enough you can paddle off and find out own peak to surf.
Learn about waves
Knowledge is power and leaning how waves are generated and the different types of waves can really help with your surfing. Do you research and learn all there is to know about the waves, rips, tides and swells. Learn about how swells are generated, low pressures and high pressures and how storms affect our seas. Google all of these topics, watch videos and absorb all there is to know.
Paddle around in the surf
When out in the surf, don’t sit around expecting the waves to just come to you, get busy and paddle around. Watch others in the surfer and keep a keen eye on the horizon for there next set. When you see the set rolling in, paddle to it, don’t paddle away. Keep busy and paddle from one peak to the next, if you miss waves it’s ok, just keep moving and watching the surf.
Surf different beaches
Surfing new beaches may feel a little scary, but it’s a great way to improve your knowledge when it comes to reading waves. It’s good to challenge yourself, so don’t become to comfortable surfing the same waves, day in and day out. Head to a different coast, surf a beach on a low tide or a high tide. Mix it up a little and allow yourself the chance to ride different waves. There is also no shame is doing little bit of research before hand. If you’re planning on surfing a new break then why not check it out before the next swell arrives. Take a drive down, check out the beach, suss out where the rocks and and try and see what the waves are doing before you head. This may give you a little more confidence on your next trip.
For surfing hints and tips check out the inspiring Surf Girl Handbook