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  1. #1

    Learning to Shortboard in San Diego Area

    Hi All:

    I will be moving to San Diego (yay!) and need opinions on the best breaks to learn to shortboard. I have surfed for a while now and want to make the leap into a shortboard. I am already anticipating I will be back to square 1 and need to find a spot that is good for short-boarding (not slow and mushy) but that is beginner/moderate friendly enough where I can get by without pissing anyone off TOO badly.

    Right now from my research I have found that the following could be suitable:

    Scripps
    La Jolla Shores
    Del Mar
    PB?? -- confused on this one.

    Any ideas would be awesome. I will be surfing early morning every day. By early morning Im talking like 7 am or so.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by surfero93 View Post
    Hi All:

    I will be moving to San Diego (yay!) and need opinions on the best breaks to learn to shortboard. I have surfed for a while now and want to make the leap into a shortboard. I am already anticipating I will be back to square 1 and need to find a spot that is good for short-boarding (not slow and mushy) but that is beginner/moderate friendly enough where I can get by without pissing anyone off TOO badly.

    Right now from my research I have found that the following could be suitable:

    Scripps
    La Jolla Shores
    Del Mar
    PB?? -- confused on this one.

    Any ideas would be awesome. I will be surfing early morning every day. By early morning Im talking like 7 am or so.
    La Jolla Shores is a good beach break for shortboards. On issue is that the LJ cove blocks it from numerous swell angles. Sometimes the shores will be flat and you look 400 yards North to scripps pier and its going off... The lineup at scripps is very tight though....

    If you want to shortboard, do ocean beach (beach breaks) and South PB. Tourmo is mushy almost always and unless there is a sizable swell, its a LB spot... Del mar is okay as well. At any rate, you will want to hit Blacks when its a reasonable size. Sit on the north peak until you ge better. Way less crowded and still a fun wave.

    Once you get good at shortboarding, move on to the reefs and points breaks. They are all much more difficult to paddle into, and if you dont know what you are doing you will never get a wave... But once you have your wits about you, wait for a 5-7 foot day and go to the cliffs, that is where you will perfect the art of shortboarding.... You will have waves that last 30 seconds and allow you to turn up to and more than 10 times on each wave....

    You can try and learn on beach breaks all day and there are only a few opportunities per session to get a good wave and really turn until you are a much better shortboarder....

    You will see what i mean when you get there, but once you get a wave and get to practice your cutbacks and floaters a dozen times on the same wave, you will be hooked and you will learn more from that one session than you would in a months time surfing a mediocre beach break....

  3. #3
    Now that's some good advice!
    It will probably take some time for floaters but it's supposed it be fun while learning, right...good call on the spots. I'm wondering why would a reef be harder to paddle into than a beach break..
    Last edited by Tuono; Mar 31, 2014 at 12:07 AM.

  4. #4
    Wow thanks for the detailed response! Im so pumped to get down there!

    So you recommend ocean beach and south PB over La Jolla/Scripps? Also, is south PB a break that is south of Tourmo?

  5. #5
    South PB = Law Street in addition to any streets named after precious stones (Diamond, Emerald, etc.). All are great places to learn, without the crowds of LJ Shores or OB. A beginner will probably get mowed down out there. On the other hand, the Shores will be overwhelmed with beginning surfers during the summer, so you would fit right in.

    PS---reefs are generally easier to paddle out to over beach breaks, because most reefs have at least one channel where waves break softly (or not at all). Do not (I repeat) do not attempt to learn to surf at a reef break. Although some reefs would be good to learn at, usually only experienced surfers will be surfing reefs. Beginners will be hassled thoroughly.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2013
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    when you move to the short board be careful about your choice. a board too short/narrow/not enough thickness
    will ruin the stoke fast and, being a beginner, you may blame it on yourself which may not be the case.

    put another way droid rips but on his go-to stick you probably won't.

  7. #7
    Yeah thats good advice.

    Thanks for all your advice everyone! I think I have a good idea of what to do. I think between Scrips, LJ, South PB and OB I can have a great few months learning. Hopefully I can hit Blacks a little too.. that would be sweet.

    edit: saw your advice on a board and will look into those for sure! You guys are awesome!
    Last edited by surfero93; Mar 31, 2014 at 03:14 PM.

  8. #8
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    Just keep at it!! don't paddle out at the peak and try to paddle battle for the better waves at the peak... then you could just about paddle out anywhere...

    Have you ever heard of Belmar, NJ??? Great place to learn with EPIC waves

    #AlwaysEPICinBelmar
    #LearntoHPSBinBelmar

  9. #9
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    oh ya- get the right board- buy something beefy to start, like the other guys mentioned. Like a standard thruster- nothing special... just beefy

    like something in the 6'4 to 6'8 range- like a basic al merrick flyer or something. I would get that over a fish.... it will be better suited for the hollow days

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tuono View Post
    Now that's some good advice!
    It will probably take some time for floaters but it's supposed it be fun while learning, right...good call on the spots. I'm wondering why would a reef be harder to paddle into than a beach break..
    Let me clarify... Once you are "used to" reef breaks, they are super easy to paddle into. But they roll MUCH slower and have a WAY more gentle slope. As you are learning on a shortboard, you will notice that if you go out to a reef break, you really have to sit right under the pitching lip and really take off at the right spot. It is much more difficult to nab a reef break shoulder, because you have to paddle really hard and have your shortboard angled very well and inline with the slope of the wave face.... Beach breaks give you that last moment of pitching force, that unmistakable moment when that board picks up and takes off... It is just much harder to achieve this on a reef or reef/point as a beginner.... Once you are dialed in, its easy as pie...

    But just go to Sunset cliffs, even on a big day and watch how many shortboarders are missing waves. Its insane. Even decent surfers.... You will see them paddling hard as hell and the wave just rolls right under them.... That is also why, on most days there are more longboards than shortboards on the reefs. Because they just pick right up on the waves. Super easy with a longer board, especially on those bigger days....

    You will see what I mean. Its hard to describe, but you have to really position yourself properly have commit to get a wave on a reef out there. If you dont commit, you wont get it. And its a different paradigm. On bigger beach break days, your brain usually tells you to avoid that critical part of the wave as its pitching over your head. Nature tells you to move down the line so you can have a safer takeoff. You have to abandon that way of thinking when surfing reefs and points. You have to position yourself in that critical spot, of you simply wont have the momentum to paddle into it with a shortboard... More often than not, this also requires you to "backdoor" the wave, meaning to paddle in way deeper than you think you should be, because you will quickly realize that as soon as you get up on the wave, you can more times than not outrun the section, almost to a fault, so you can take off behind part of the wave that is already breaking, pump a little, bottom turn around the section and you will then have caught up to the section of the wave you want to be on, and then instinct will kick in because the reefs break slower, and your normal surfing technique will outrun the wave, and that is when the instinct to start your cutback will kick in. Its like evolution. It will just click. You will realize you are going to fast, you will naturally turn your body and board in a figure 8 to get back to the force of the breaking lip and then you will pump a little, get that speed back up and then find your self too far out front again and then cut back....

    Surfing spots like that will increase your skillset by lightyears... It just allows you to react and naturally do what the wave needs you to do... On most east coast beach breaks, they are such a short ride and everything happens so fast, you dont have time to think. You just do. You just react... On a nice reef break on Sunset Cliffs, you can litterally plan out your next turn before you finish your current turn. You can be doing a roundhouse and say you know what, Im going to take a steep bottom turn, come back up vertical and snap this time instead of a roundhouse... Then after that, Im going to do a roundhouse and cut way back behind the wave and setup for a floater. Its crazy....

    And like the other guy said, reef breaks are way easier to paddle out to. Just stand up on the cliff and you will notice to either side of the wave, there will be flat ocean where the waves arent breaking. Those are your deep water channels. You just paddle out right there. Some of the spots there, I had my own way of paddling out and I was the only person that did it. It took me a little longer, but I was guaranteed to get out on a 12 foot day with dry hair. Just stand and watch for a bit....

    Another common mistake... Dont freak out by the thought of surfing over top of a reef. Very few of those spots are really shallow. No surf is a shallow slab and needles (right next to it) gets SUPER shallow on the inside, but you can see it coming, you see how shallow is gets cause its a point that hits the cliffs and you just pop over when you realize you are in about 1 foot of water. Pesky's inside reefs at the boat ramp are shallow and there are a few more random inside reefs, but all those spots are so far out, I have gotten pitched off of a 15 footer head first and not hit the bottom. Those reefs are deep.... At least at Sunset Cliffs...

    Now if you go to the northern most reefs in the La Jolla Reefs, well buddy, thats a different ballgame. Those are death slabs on a bigger day and they will mow you down like a weedwacker and you can find yourself getting the swiss cheese treatment if you arent careful. They produce Hawaii like barrels, but you get what you pay for. The pic in my avatar is one of the good places I was in that day, but I also have a picture of myself getting tossed head first over an inverted 10 foot wave face. Its not all fun all the time. You gotta pay the price if you want the best waves sometimes.
    Last edited by zach619; Mar 31, 2014 at 03:24 PM.