The beginners have an easy time catching foam, but once they start to look for real waves they can’t discern among the waves as to which ones they should catch. Just as important as seeing where waves are going to break is being in position to catch and ride them.
First, you observe where they are breaking and where other surfers are riding them. Waves on sand bar beaches are breaking on two planes. They are apexing or breaking at a point that can be lined up with some stationary object on shore. I find a break and then line it up with a house or building on shore and go back to that spot.
Secondly they are breaking at a distance from shore which I line up with posts or lights on the Pier or in relation to where the line up is sitting. I get my two points and after I catch a wave, I return to that spot.
You can’t ride waves if another surfer is on it heading your way. You have to observe what surfers are doing in the line up. How many are active, which way are they going, and how early are they catching them. If there are long boards in the line up they will dominate the wave catching.
Now strategy. You have to give waves to other surfers and you get to take waves and you have to be in position so they know you can catch the wave. I like to paddle back and forth in the line up sometimes so that it is notice I want a wave and so that I can move quickly to where the wave seems to be forming.
Most surfers like to move parallel to the wave as it is forming to have speed and to get the apex or corner they want to ride. If waves are 4′ plus and closing out, surfers probably want the corners just where the wave has steepness but a carve takes you into the pocket away from the folding lip.
I also like to sit inside of the line up on smaller days because the line up will paddle and miss the waves and on my short board I want more arc in the wave. If breaks are too crowded, I might move to get less competition. I also watch the breaks as the tide changes because on my beach the breaks start moving north or south.
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Learn about the Beaches, Surf Culture, Etiquette in the Water and Beginner to Advanced Surfing Instructions in 95 page Illustrated Free E Book, “Learning to Surf in Oceanside”
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