Yes don't learn to stand in crowd. Can you find a place where you can catch the white water, stand and drop off into deeper water where the wave reforms into a swell? Soft tops i don't know much apout them. Sounds to me like thay might be soft on top with a hard pointy nose. Maybe if you paint it bright fluorescent? If i were to choose a board to run me over it would be a total spong. Also try Proteck Fins.