It may be that the bottom turn is keeping you from out racing the close out section.
build up your knowledge of specific spots and their quirks and features and you'll figure out where to be (and when best to be there vis a vi the tide) so you're not having to make such late drops. Plus the right board is a huge factor. I have a couple boards (shaped by locals who surf the same waves, not someone in say, Laguna Beach) with extra nose rocker for those steep, low tide dredgers.
First and foremost, however, your equipment has to be able to do the job. It sounds like you have a fish(y) board and that will really limit you. The nose rocker is most-likely pretty straight, so unless you're surfing shoulder-high or higher, straight drop-ins aren't going to work out too well for you. Since it's wide, you're probably going to pinch a rail on an angled take off.
Secondly, your surfing is going to require a lot more energy and focus. To make your specific board work, you're going to have to do what aka pumpmaster suggested and do a partial turn on the way down. Turning back to the top of the wave with a flat board is pretty sketchy, so plan on working no higher that the middle of the wave til it's end.
Lastly, find some spots that break at high tide without dumping on the beach. Low tide has a tendency to enhance the steepness of the wave.
If you encounter steep waves frequently, you may want to start looking for a narrower board with a good deal of rocker. This is just my opinion.
1. Proper board- to me the most important thing for steeper waves is a board that you are CONFIDENT with. There are lots of specific design characteristics that will help you, but it's 100 times more important that you believe you are going to make the drop before you even stand up.
2. Watch others- surf vid's are good, but I learn so much more from just watching others. Not just the really good guys either. Look for guys who appear to have an intermediate level. They're probably doing things a little closer to what you can accomplish, so watching them will give you a better idea of how you are running into trouble. Once you can take off no problem, then start trying to do the no-paddle mystery takeoff...but don't worry about that stuff for now, master the basics.
3. Keep laughing at yourself! The day it's no longer funny is the day you should go take up golf. Years down the road you can look back and laugh...and then laugh at the people you see trying to learn once you've already done so.
this is how you do it: paddle into the wave as late as you possibly can, and go for the big air drop, you probably won't land it the first couple times, but it will look really cool if you happen to get a pic of it
Set your feet and visualize.
Thanks again everyone for the tips. I may have to change equipment but I'll see how far I can push this board too. It is a large board but it has a notched tail that does get more narrow. I don't know if that will help with manuevering the board.
Also, I was contemplating what board to get. Only have enough money for a used board but want something that can be used in all our surf year round here from knee high to head high and steep waves. Any suggestions? I was thinking a small RNF but I wasn't sure. Since I've been surfing for a short time, I'm can't tell how different board templates fit to different waves yet.
paddel fast as **** and take at least one extra paddle to make sure your into it. thats all.