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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Norfolk
    Posts
    20

    Question about learning to surf

    Hey everyone,

    I was hoping people could share some advice with me on learning to surf on Long Island. I've been at it for a month and have been out 8 times but have just been riding white water closer to the beach. Tuesday and Wednesday I went out and wasn't able to paddle out past the break so again I stayed in and rode some white water and took a pounding for a couple of hours. Yesterday morning I went out and found a channel and started paddling to the outside. As I got close to getting beyond the break a 5 or 6 foot wave came and swallowed me up and spit me out. I was a little rattled and realized I was not ready for this size wave yet so I headed closer to shore and rode some white water again.

    My question is when did people know they were ready to head to the outside and start riding some bigger waves? It seems like the conditions on Long Island aren't great for learning in that I haven't come across any 2-3 foot gentle rolling waves like when I took some lessons in Hawaii. It's either white water or too big for what I'm ready for. So if anyone had any advice I would really appreciate it. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Location
    Rhody
    Posts
    119

    Post

    Not sure I'm qualified to answer since I learned in head high surf in Costa Rica -- six days of surfing and only caught one wave. Maybe it was the 9'6" board they had me on . . . Seriously, I don't know what kind of board you are on for the size of wave you are encountering, but summer surf isn't usually that bad on the east coast (never surfed Long Island, OK . . .) You are ready NOW. Go out, get pounded fifteen times, then give up and quit surfing altogether, leave the waves to others! ;-) Just kidding.

    It sounds more like you are having trouble with getting outside. You need to learn how to time it so you can get past the impact zone, and for whatever kind of board you have, how to handle it when the wave is breaking on your head. If you have a long board, you need to turtle or eskimo roll. SEarch the forum, there are a couple of threads on technique for getting a longboard through the ikmpact zone. A shorter board should be easier, duck dive (not as easy to as it is to write). But the big issue is getting outside. Once you are there -- you have to live with getting pounded a bunch of times until you learn your timing and positioning on the wave. I started late in my lefe, and for the first couple of YEARS surfing NJ every weekend including January, I was lucky to have a day where I got two or three waves, and got my head handed to me five times for every measly one I caught. Then a few good tips, lots of watching, and lots of trial and error, I started getting myself into better position . . . timing better . . . knowing when to run away like a sissy and when to go for it . . . now the ratio is flipped, I catch more than I miss. I am now messing it all up by moving down to a shorter board . . . Basically, learn to paddle out, and then just keep trying and don't give up.

  3. #3
    I started surfing 6 months ago so I can relate. My second month surfing, I went out on when the waves were 6 feet, short intervals. I had the same issues as you-- getting out was a nightmare, then once out, waves were above my ability to ride. Wound up wiping out a couple of times and getting pounded in the impact zone before calling it a day.

    It gets better. 3 months after that, I was able to pull off 4-5 really good rides on 5ft+ waves, short invervals, choppy conditions. What made the difference was that I had a few months of smaller waves to build skills on. You may feel like you are going no where for a couple of months and then one day things will click and it will start getting rapidly easier.

    The surf is probably too heavy for where you are at right now. Don't get discouraged. Most of the time on the east coast, conditions are small. In fact, a lot of the days the experts don't think are worth surfing are perfect for you. Build some success on the small days and then test your limits when a bigger day comes along every once in a while.

    I'm assuming you're on a longer board at this point. In terms of specific advice for getting out, I've found that the best method is to wade out to about waist deep and then wait for a lull. Be patient-- it will come. When it comes, paddle like a MF and go farther out than you think you need to be. It is a lot easier to paddle back in a bit than to get caught inside when a set comes at you. People will tell you to turtle roll or whatever, but I've found that to be a pretty poor technique in comparison to the above method. Keep in mind that every time you roll, you have to get back on your board and start paddling again. Save the turtling for when it is an emergency and you just can't make it over the top of a wave. It's not a winning strategy in general.

    Good luck and stick with it!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2012
    Location
    Norfolk
    Posts
    20
    Thanks for the responses. I'm starting late in life myself (26) as I didn't grow up near the ocean. My board is 7'0" 22" wide and about 3" thick. I'm 6'0 180lbs. The guys at the surf shop recommended it for the waves around here and I eventually want to get down to a smaller board. I've been trying to duck dive but I think my board is a little too buoyant for that and I haven't had much luck with turtle rolls. I'm not the type to quit and I plan on keeping at it through the fall and winter.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    BELMAR, NJ
    Posts
    1,032
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    1
    Quote Originally Posted by mike228 View Post
    My board is 7'0" 22" wide and about 3" thick. I'm 6'0 180lbs. .
    And one other thing.... GET A LONGBOARD if you want to learn quicker! a 9ft board! seriously.... don't worry about duck diving... just take it on the head for a while... its hard to duck dive a 3 inch thick 7ft board anyways....

    keep it up man!!!!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Stayin' Classy in San Diego
    Posts
    1,490
    Quote Originally Posted by mike228 View Post
    Thanks for the responses. I'm starting late in life myself (26) as I didn't grow up near the ocean. My board is 7'0" 22" wide and about 3" thick. I'm 6'0 180lbs. The guys at the surf shop recommended it for the waves around here and I eventually want to get down to a smaller board. I've been trying to duck dive but I think my board is a little too buoyant for that and I haven't had much luck with turtle rolls. I'm not the type to quit and I plan on keeping at it through the fall and winter.
    I learned on a short board (6'4" x 2.75" x 20"). The surfing learning curve is steep, on a shortboard even steeper; but the payoff in the long run is a lifelong love. That being said, any board, long and short, can be duck dived. The mechanics are fundamentally the same. With a shortboard, one can just muscle past the board's buoyancy. A longboard takes more finesse, unless you're Andre the Giant, but the technique can be applied to shortboards until you build up some muscle and get the mechanics down.

    Here's a great link:
    http://www.surfline.com/community/wh...ws.cfm?id=1052

    Here are the key points (I've taken out some things I think confuse the reader) which apply to duck diving a long board, which can be applied to duck diving a shortboard too:
    As the wave is approaching, push one rail down and knife the board under the water (this breaks the laminar and makes the next part easier), then as the wave gets close, flatten the board back out (youíre under the water at this point) and press down with both arms hard. This gets you under the wave and as the wave begins to pass over, push into the back of the board with your knees or feet to push the tail down, this should level the board out. Then add more pressure as the wave is passing, which pushes the nose up slightly (too much of an angle and the board pops straight up and you get pulled back with the passing wave or worse ďGo Over the FallsĒ) and you come back up to the surface. This sounds like a lot, but itís all done as one seamless motion in about Ĺ a second. That takes timing, which takes practice, thereís no getting around it.

    Think about it as 3 parts until it all becomes one motion. You want to angle the board under the wave as it approaches, flatten the board level as the wave is directly overhead and then angle it up slightly to use the boards buoyancy to add speed at the end. Knifing the rail into the water first just makes it easier to push the board down for the first part. Youíre no longer fighting the entire surface of the board. Iím a 193#, 6í2Ē, 34 year old (for a hot minute more) and I was doing just this, this morning at a 3-6í beach break on a 9í1Ē thatís 22Ē and 2 7/8Ē thick. Should have grabbed a short board, but I was expecting 2-3í. Nice surprise, made my Friday.

    A solid duck dive will make surfing a lot easier, because you wonít be as tired and youíll have more energy to paddle out and catch more waves. More waves = MORE fun for everyone! According to the Missus, Iím getting a life proof case as a Birthday present to go with an iPhone 4 I recently rebuilt. Once I get it, Iíll take it surfing and post a video or two of this.

    The most important part to any of this, donít get discouraged, none of us learned how to surf in a day and donít give up. Hope this helps and isnít too confusing.
    Oh, 1 more thing go deep.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    BELMAR, NJ
    Posts
    1,032
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    1
    practice... time... and getting worked.... then you will get it! it take lots and lots and lots of time. DONT GIVE UP! buy a wetsuit for the fall. continue to surf. then get a winter suit. continue to surf. hopefully by winter you will start to feel better. keep an eye on the forecast, go when its good for you (2-3ft and off shore). AND KEEP IT GOING!!!! It takes alot of time to learn the conditions and how the waves break ect.. unless your a little kid- kids seem to pick it up in a matter of days. us older ppl take longer. keep it up! dont give up!

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by walkingonh2o View Post
    practice... time... and getting worked....
    Exactly...you definitely have to pay your dues. This late in life it will be more difficult for you also so hang in there. If your just going to surf during the summers where you don't need a wetsuit you will have a even harder time picking it up. I started when I was around 8 so I cant even remember when I knew I was good enough to go out with the big boys. At a young age my balls where bigger also so I probably just didnt care.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    Central FL
    Posts
    3,152
    When in doubt, don't paddle out. Know your limits, if you aren't riding 2-3ft waves with regular success, than going for anyting larger isn't going to be any easier. You'll know when you are ready, it usually happens when you are catching every wave that is coming through and you are frothing for more.

  10. #10
    I started this year at 34. Think of it this way, but the time you are my age, you will be awesome. People who have been surfing all of their lives some times make it seem like it is impossible to learn. It's not. It just takes practice. I still suck, but I can look back at me just a couple of months ago and see a real difference between then and now. You might only be a month or two away from really starting to link it up. In a way, I think it's pretty cool to learn this sport later in life because you can really see and appreciate the progress you make without peer pressure or anything else you might experience as a kid that could blur the picture.