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  1. #1

    Reading the break

    Been spending quite some time watching the waves break on a given day prior to stepping in. Anything other than the rare full day of offshores seems to throw moderate to total unpredictability in break timing and spot from one wave to the next within a set. These sets also lack pattern and consistency from one to the next as a whole, even when giving ample time to study them upon arrival.

    So timing the break has been a challenge when I decide to paddle into one in what appears to be the right spot and distance for a successful takeoff in the green, only to have it crumble prematurely as it's lifted me halfway. On those, I give extra paddles and the final double arm paddle which will get me over the top but then its a flat drop to the trough and I've got the white coming down on me which kills my speed and my ability to turn down the line. In that case, I just ride straight and catch enough speed to stay ahead of the mush and get out in front of the spray. Then the mediocre ride is done.

    For ones I get a takeoff down the face and get to my feet with some speed before the white comes down on top, I've got out ahead of the crumble and have minimal spray to deal with and can still get down the line, though I'm in the flats and have no face to begin to re-enter since the crumble has likewise been premature to the right or left of takeoff spot, so I just stay down the line and ride it out with some pumping for speed but nothing much to get back into even if I do get speed.

    I'm still working on many of the basics, so my recent consistency with smoother takeoffs at an angle is something new and a definite improvement, as are my sharper down the line bottom turns. I'm pleased with bringing those into my baseline skill set, but eager to begin getting back in the face for speed on the SB and also to start trying to get up to the lip. If that's not the next level of skill progression then let me know and I can focus on another aspect.

    Basically, my questions are:
    1) Since these east coast waves are fairly inconsistent and lacking in pattern of breaking spot and timing on the typical day, what are points of focus you vets look for as indicators of what waves to take and how to handle them? It's tough to get too selective as your session would largely be spent waiting and floating.
    2) When you see the oncoming wave, what are visual indicators you read to see if this one will go right or left?
    3) If the wave does break differently than you expected and scouted it to break, how do you handle that to make the best of that ride or do you just fall off the back purposely when you know it's just not worth getting brought inside on account of taking a junk wave?
    4) What are any and all indicators you look for in a single wave or set or series of sets to determine what cards the ocean is dealing you that session and what do you use from that to formulate your game plan for good rides?
    5) What do you specifically do on a technical level to make the most of crap waves once you're out there, beyond picking the right board? I'm mostly talking about days where you do see some good rides to take but they're in between plenty of unpredictable junk.

    Thanks very much in advance. Feel free to correct anything from my first few paragraphs that doesn't sound accurate or correct. Answers to those questions would be great, but even just listing your straight up philosophy and strategy for how to handle so-so to worse conditions would be valuable for me and I'm sure several others.

    At last night's short session before dark, I paddled into 9 waves and caught 7 while falling off the back on 2. Rode most of them clean and balanced and several down the line. Looking to get to the next level above that! Thanks again guys.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2012
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    UGHHH! :(
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    307
    If you figure it out, let me know. I can guess better on point breaks, which I assume you're not surfing too often.

  3. #3
    I'm no expert, but it seems to me you have two options, neither of which is perfect.

    First, you can stay inside and try to catch the smaller waves. When a bigger set comes through, you can duckdive it if you're on a shortboard. If you're not on a short board you will either get knocked around or, if you are a strong paddler, can paddle your face off and get over the top.

    The other option is to paddle outside and just wait for the bigger sets. You will get a lot fewer waves, but you will be in position for the biggest waves.

    As for right or left, in beach break you can usually go either direction. Sometimes it will clearly be going one way or the other and then it's obvious.

  4. #4
    Aren't you the guy who thought he had enough experience to take a newb out in to 6 foot surf by a jetty? Go practice and figure it out yourself. Be safe about it too!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
    Location
    Beyond The Wall
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    Spicoli, at work so I didn't get to read through your whole post, but some things to think about...obviously, know which of of your spots work best in various wind directions(once you know a spot goes to shyte in a particular direction, you can cross that off your "to check" list)...know how tide effects your spots(one of my favorites pitches a little harder on the outgoing and then gets all rampy/starts to wrap around like a horseshoe on the incoming)...as far as knowing which direction to go, that's kind of an easy one, maybe comes w/ time, but look both ways and go the way that has the best shoulder/looks like it's gonna peel vs the way that looks like it's gonna close out.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Delaware
    Posts
    751
    Quote Originally Posted by Kahuna Kai View Post
    Aren't you the guy who thought he had enough experience to take a newb out in to 6 foot surf by a jetty? Go practice and figure it out yourself. Be safe about it too!
    I was thinking the same thing! You have enough experience to take your buddy out and for some strange reason, fell comfortable about it, and now you are here asking for advice. And with the information you just provided, I can say with 100% certainty, you should not be taking ANYONE out. You should be concentrating more on your own skills! Kahuna said it, practice, watch others, time in water, etc. Good luck

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Location
    Brooklyn
    Posts
    151
    As others have said, there is no shortcut to figuring all of this out. No piece of advice anybody gives you is going to magically take you to that next level. Spend less time writing 500+ word essays about surfing and more time surfing and let experience be your teacher. And don't take any more novices surfing - you're clearly still a novice yourself.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Charleston
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    Quote Originally Posted by EmassSpicoli View Post
    Been spending quite some time watching the waves break on a given day prior to stepping in. Anything other than the rare full day of offshores seems to throw moderate to total unpredictability in break timing and spot from one wave to the next within a set. These sets also lack pattern and consistency from one to the next as a whole, even when giving ample time to study them upon arrival.

    So timing the break has been a challenge when I decide to paddle into one in what appears to be the right spot and distance for a successful takeoff in the green, only to have it crumble prematurely as it's lifted me halfway. On those, I give extra paddles and the final double arm paddle which will get me over the top but then its a flat drop to the trough and I've got the white coming down on me which kills my speed and my ability to turn down the line. In that case, I just ride straight and catch enough speed to stay ahead of the mush and get out in front of the spray. Then the mediocre ride is done.

    For ones I get a takeoff down the face and get to my feet with some speed before the white comes down on top, I've got out ahead of the crumble and have minimal spray to deal with and can still get down the line, though I'm in the flats and have no face to begin to re-enter since the crumble has likewise been premature to the right or left of takeoff spot, so I just stay down the line and ride it out with some pumping for speed but nothing much to get back into even if I do get speed.

    I'm still working on many of the basics, so my recent consistency with smoother takeoffs at an angle is something new and a definite improvement, as are my sharper down the line bottom turns. I'm pleased with bringing those into my baseline skill set, but eager to begin getting back in the face for speed on the SB and also to start trying to get up to the lip. If that's not the next level of skill progression then let me know and I can focus on another aspect.

    Basically, my questions are:
    1) Since these east coast waves are fairly inconsistent and lacking in pattern of breaking spot and timing on the typical day, what are points of focus you vets look for as indicators of what waves to take and how to handle them? It's tough to get too selective as your session would largely be spent waiting and floating.
    2) When you see the oncoming wave, what are visual indicators you read to see if this one will go right or left?
    3) If the wave does break differently than you expected and scouted it to break, how do you handle that to make the best of that ride or do you just fall off the back purposely when you know it's just not worth getting brought inside on account of taking a junk wave?
    4) What are any and all indicators you look for in a single wave or set or series of sets to determine what cards the ocean is dealing you that session and what do you use from that to formulate your game plan for good rides?
    5) What do you specifically do on a technical level to make the most of crap waves once you're out there, beyond picking the right board? I'm mostly talking about days where you do see some good rides to take but they're in between plenty of unpredictable junk.

    Thanks very much in advance. Feel free to correct anything from my first few paragraphs that doesn't sound accurate or correct. Answers to those questions would be great, but even just listing your straight up philosophy and strategy for how to handle so-so to worse conditions would be valuable for me and I'm sure several others.

    At last night's short session before dark, I paddled into 9 waves and caught 7 while falling off the back on 2. Rode most of them clean and balanced and several down the line. Looking to get to the next level above that! Thanks again guys.


    1)A good indicator of where the waves may be breaking on a shifty day is the whitewash left over after the wave has passed. You should see some sort of foamy triangle, paddle to about 10-15 feet past that peak and try to find a couple spots on shore to line up with again. Positioning yourself farther out, picking out your wave and paddling earlier will keep your on the face of the wave. It will also get your paddling speed up so you won't have to double arm paddle, you should quit that habit.
    2)Unless the waves are 100 yard close outs you should be able to see which way the wave is going to break by looking at the steeper side. If it's steeper on the right, I'm taking a left. Steeper on the left, I'm taking a right.
    3)This is a question I think only you would ask. You need to decide what's best for you on the wave.
    4)Come on...
    5)Have fun.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2012
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    Beyond The Wall
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    Dont "formulate a game plan for good rides", just let them happen...just saw that in the OP.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Location
    sea
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    916
    Quote Originally Posted by EmassSpicoli View Post
    Been spending quite some time watching the waves break on a given day prior to stepping in. Anything other than the rare full day of offshores seems to throw moderate to total unpredictability in break timing and spot from one wave to the next within a set. These sets also lack pattern and consistency from one to the next as a whole, even when giving ample time to study them upon arrival.

    So timing the break has been a challenge when I decide to paddle into one in what appears to be the right spot and distance for a successful takeoff in the green, only to have it crumble prematurely as it's lifted me halfway. On those, I give extra paddles and the final double arm paddle which will get me over the top but then its a flat drop to the trough and I've got the white coming down on me which kills my speed and my ability to turn down the line. In that case, I just ride straight and catch enough speed to stay ahead of the mush and get out in front of the spray. Then the mediocre ride is done.

    For ones I get a takeoff down the face and get to my feet with some speed before the white comes down on top, I've got out ahead of the crumble and have minimal spray to deal with and can still get down the line, though I'm in the flats and have no face to begin to re-enter since the crumble has likewise been premature to the right or left of takeoff spot, so I just stay down the line and ride it out with some pumping for speed but nothing much to get back into even if I do get speed.

    I'm still working on many of the basics, so my recent consistency with smoother takeoffs at an angle is something new and a definite improvement, as are my sharper down the line bottom turns. I'm pleased with bringing those into my baseline skill set, but eager to begin getting back in the face for speed on the SB and also to start trying to get up to the lip. If that's not the next level of skill progression then let me know and I can focus on another aspect.

    Basically, my questions are:
    1) Since these east coast waves are fairly inconsistent and lacking in pattern of breaking spot and timing on the typical day, what are points of focus you vets look for as indicators of what waves to take and how to handle them? It's tough to get too selective as your session would largely be spent waiting and floating.
    2) When you see the oncoming wave, what are visual indicators you read to see if this one will go right or left?
    3) If the wave does break differently than you expected and scouted it to break, how do you handle that to make the best of that ride or do you just fall off the back purposely when you know it's just not worth getting brought inside on account of taking a junk wave?
    4) What are any and all indicators you look for in a single wave or set or series of sets to determine what cards the ocean is dealing you that session and what do you use from that to formulate your game plan for good rides?
    5) What do you specifically do on a technical level to make the most of crap waves once you're out there, beyond picking the right board? I'm mostly talking about days where you do see some good rides to take but they're in between plenty of unpredictable junk.

    Thanks very much in advance. Feel free to correct anything from my first few paragraphs that doesn't sound accurate or correct. Answers to those questions would be great, but even just listing your straight up philosophy and strategy for how to handle so-so to worse conditions would be valuable for me and I'm sure several others.

    At last night's short session before dark, I paddled into 9 waves and caught 7 while falling off the back on 2. Rode most of them clean and balanced and several down the line. Looking to get to the next level above that! Thanks again guys.
    sounds like you just finished watching "north shore"...take it from chandler.here on the eastcoast we have sandbars that can pop up for an hour or 2 and dissapear with the tides.why your not seeing waves break in the same spot is because there is no reef.you just have to put your head down and paddle for the horizon.duckdive the bigger sets,or simply roll off your board and hang on to your leash.the ocean can go from 10ft deep when a wave comes in and drop back down to 5ft.you should check out hammersurfcamp.com ....you will learn from the best.your questions are too technical for me to even pay attention to.