Learn how to angle your takeoff so you may draw your line either right or left on the shoulder.
1- Paddling into a wave:
- Know where you’re going. It’s easier to go left or right when you decide right from the start where you want to go. You can position yourself better and read the wave’s shoulder accordingly.
- Paddle 100% perpendicular to the wave until your last 3 paddles. The best way to catch an unbroken “green” wave is to paddle straight towards the beach, perpendicular to the wave, until the last few seconds before your pop up.
- Last 3 paddle strokes: paddle to the direction you want to go. During the last 3 paddle strokes only, start paddling to your left or right, depending on which side you want to drop the wave to. These last 3 “pushes” in the direction you want to go are critical as they give your surfboard a slight angle that makes it easier to go left or right.
- Look where you’re going. As you prepare your pop up and put your hands flat on your surfboard under your pectorals, you should be looking in the direction you want to go. Your chest and head should be pointing exactly where you are planning to draw your line when dropping the wave, either to your left or to your right.
- Put a bit more weight on the inside rail. As you are in the “push up” position, preparing to pop up, you should slightly dig the surfboard’s inside rail in the water, by pushing with your hand. For example, if you want to go left, you should use your left hand to slightly push down the left rail into the water. This will help give your surfboard direction and momentum to go left before you stand up.
- At the pop up: look where you are going. Your head and chest should be facing the direction where you want to go.
- Don’t paddle with too much of a big angle. You will go over the shoulder without catching the wave.
- Don’t start paddling in angle too soon. Paddle perpendicular to the wave, facing straight to the beach. Only start paddling in angle during the last 3 paddle strokes.
- Don’t paddle for a wave without looking where you want to go. If you don’t look where you are going, you won’t know the speed and the line you need to draw once you stand up.
2- Draw your line: Surf either Right or Left on the Unbroken Wave
- Surf approximately on the middle of the shoulder. Draw an imaginary line that goes down the wave in the middle of the face.
- Surfer A drops the wave straight down. As he goes straight down the wave, he will end up too far ahead of it and get stuck in the white water when the wave crashes. This usually happens when surfers look straight down the wave instead of looking left or right, in the direction they want to go. It may also happen if you did not slightly angle your surfboard during your last 3 paddle strokes.
- Surfer B draws a perfect line in the middle of the face of the wave. Because he has paddled with a slight angle during his last 3 strokes and looked in the direction he wanted to go, surfer B takes off with a proper angle and rides the wave down the line.
- Surfer C draws his line too high. If you draw your line too high on the shoulder, you will eventually go off the back of the wave.
- Check your feet positioning Your feet should be perfectly positioned on the width of the surfboard, with your arches straight over the surfboard’s stringer. Bad feet positioning can make it very difficult to keep your line as you go down the wave, as you won’t be able to apply the proper weight on to the rails with your toes or heels.
- Don’t go frontside on a wave when you should be surfing it backside. It is usually easier for a novice surfer to ride a wave “frontside”. Surfing “frontside” means you face the wave with your chest as you follow the wave. This is usually easier than surfing backside: with your back facing the wave. A common mistake is to surf towards the white water, instead of towards the open face of the wave, for the simple reason of being more comfortable riding frontside. The ocean dictates whether a wave peels to the right or to the left, so practise both frontside and backside riding!
- If your chest is pointing to the direction you want to go, then you’re probably doing it right and it will be easier to surf right or left on the face.
- Planning to go down the “middle” of the height of the shoulder is only an indicator. In reality, you will want to draw your line a bit higher than the middle if the wave’s shoulder is breaking fast, and a bit lower when it’s breaking slowly.
- You might be surfing lower on the face than you think you are. Take note that most beginners think they are surfing higher on the wave than they actually are. The ideal is to see yourself surfing on pictures and video to verify where you draw your lines.