Just keep at it! I have a seven footer and it duck dives fine. I always try to push down on my board on the smaller waves. Also I travel some so when I get to a hotel with a pool I swim as much as possible. It helps. Paddling strength is key for me.
Lol..you'll get it. Like anything else in life, it takes work to learn. Try to go out on smaller days with an offshore wind, or light wind, on an incoming tide. While you're learning ,try to learn to read the wave. At your level, you don't want the peak, and would be better off paddling for a shoulder. Learn to identify if the wave is breaking left or right. You can paddle at an angle to the direction you wish to go. Get up quickly. Stay out of more experienced surfers way, while you're learning, and be cool to those that surf that break. Sit on the beach and WATCH. Those boys are that good, because they've put in countless hours. You're going to have trouble duck diving that board,and one trick is to grab the nose and dive under the whitewater, pulling the nose down. It don't come easy, but when it does, you're hooked. I'm 59 years old, and I still surf just about everyday. Good luck.
Ironically, all I wanted for the past three months was to get my a55 handed to me by waves of substance. Getting drilled is part of the game and part of the fun. You have to pay to play and good waves or rides are totally worth it. I'm not going to regurgitate some of the good advice already in this thread except; check the older threads on getting up, paddling, and so on. Patience! It's not that easy, but if you really want it and persist, you’re in.
I learned to surf on a short board...not the way to go... but hey I only weighed in at 135. A long board floats so much better you really can get worked over harder. When you have the oh sh** moment and see your gonna get worked.... ditching and swimming for the bottom is the best...just make sure you have a really good leash not a thin wimpy comp style.
Now for learning... probably the hardest thing I have ever learned to do well. If you have some talent you will revel in the fact that you can with time, be better than even the people that helped you learn to surf. Good luck.
Being that I have only been at this about a year, starting in my early 50's, riding a SUP, and thus still gleaning tid bits of surfing knowledge from the bro's around me, all I can say is that I concur with all that has been said, especially with regard to staying at it and the fact that you will "get worked." In late spring, I was happy if I rode one wave in a sesh, straight in (w/ uncountable "failures"), but by mid summer, on smaller waves (knee/thigh), I was losing count and starting to learn to go right or left. However, I paid some dues "going for it", (getting "wacked on the paddle out", pearled and tossed, side tumbled, lose the board forward, etc.). All these things were part of the process, and one thing that was very helpful that was shared with me by a bro' this summer were these 4 basic keys:
1. Find the Sweet Spot of your board
2. Paddle Deep
3. Pop up in one motion
4. Get into the low surfing stance
1 & 4 (& 2 somewhat -- different paddle in my case, 3 is irrelevant since I'm on a SUP) really helped, especially when I needed to maneuver or handle when the wave was breaking down, getting dicey, or whitewater.
As already said by others, your time and work (& getting worked) will pay off. This is also important-- learning from the failures. I was out in much bigger surf than I had previously experienced the last 2 days and there was new things to learn and apply. Each time I got worked, it was an opportunity to reflect and make "an adjustment" for the next wave or sesh. First few takeoffs did not turn out so good, but when I finally caught one and survived and rode the beast all the way in, as everyone here knows, there is nothing like it. That's why we keeping paddling out, knowing that a great ride lies ahead in spite of the eminent wipe outs that also lie ahead.
Be encouraged: Stick with it, be smart, be safe, and respect others and honor the code of surf etiquette.
Last edited by capecodcdog; Sep 8, 2012 at 12:08 AM.
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 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.
Thanks for all the advice, I really appreciate it. I went back out this afternoon (4th day in a row) and dealt with a lot of whitewater again. Paddled like hell for a good hour and got a couple of whitewater rides in but still didn't make it outside. I'm going to pick up a wetsuit next week so I can keep at it through the fall. I know the first few months of something new are always the hardest so hopefully I'll see some real progress come winter and hopefully I won't mind the cold.
Learn the turtle.. Love the turtle.. Sure you can ditch and dive if you don't have time for a proper turtle roll but I wouldn't recommend making a habit of it. Coming back up to find out that your board is speeding back to the beach without you because your leash plug broke or popped out well... Sucks. ( happened to me during the Isaac swell) Thats a lot of force on a small area and over time can weaken the bond holding the plug in.
Good luck and don't get discouraged, everybody sucks at first.
I would agree with the longboard equation. It is sooooooo much easier to pop up on the longboard. It is how I learned. However, I wpould recommend getting some kick ass lessons from either a professionally trained surf instructor or at the very least a good and trusted surfing friend. You can learn a lot on your own but getting some tips and lessons from someone who is experienced is well worth it. My friend (who never surfed before) and I just booked a trip through the guys at Sportbay and found a whole bunch of surf lessons. I am going to take an advanced course and he is going to do the beginning course. Should be sweet. If you have the time and money for a surf trip to a famous surf spot, I would recommend it. That way when you come back, you will know a bit more! Good luck dude!
The best advice I could give is, like everyone here said, don't get discouraged and don't give up. Stay out of more experienced surfers way (for your own safety and theirs) and go as often as you possibly can.
In my opinion, standing up and riding the surfboard is the easy part of surfing - the hard part, and the part that really separates the good from the inexperienced is knowledge of the ocean... wave selection, knowing where to paddle out, where to sit, etc. This is something that can only be developed with a lot of time in the water - as all breaks are generally different and even change day by day, you must develop a distinct ability to read what has changed and how to work with it when you go out. The only way to do that is to get out there and take a pounding a couple of times... lol