Surfing Skills –Surfing different wave types, size of waves and turning

Surfing Skills –Surfing different wave types, size of waves and turning

The types of waves of a surfer catches and the size of the wave a surfer catches are both very important for surfing and improving. There is a progression during the learning and surfing stages. If a surfer goes out into the surf in waves and conditions that are unsuitable for them and their level of surfing, then not only can it be detrimental to their improvement and learning but it can also be potentially dangerous.

When beginning and learning to surf, you will generally be catching the broken white water waves. This is because it is easier with the waves having less power and being slower so it helps new surfers get to their feet and begin to learn and develop basic surf skills. A new surfer might be pushed on to and surfing on green waves (a wave that has not yet broken), if these waves are really small and gentle.

As a surfer improves and progresses, the surfer will want to start surfing on bigger and faster waves and waves that have not yet broken. It is important though that a surfer never surfs on waves that are beyond their ability. There is a gradual progression to surfing on green, unbroken waves and waves that are bigger. The better a surfer becomes, the more skills they will have and better understanding and better stronger abilities they will have in the ocean and surf so the bigger waves they can surf.

When starting to catch green waves, a surfer should start initially at catching about knee to waist high waves in size. As the surfer is able to successfully paddle on to, catch, stand up and ride these waves, then they can start to look at waist high, then chest high, then head high waves. Once a surfer has become very proficient and developed a strong water and surf skills base, plus surfing very well on these chest to head high waves, then possibly, that surfer can look at waves bigger than head high. This can take a long time of practice and experience for a surfer to get to this level.

To speed up the development and to ensure that a surfer is doing this in a safe way, it is strongly recommended that surfers learn from professional, fully qualified surf instructors at one of the numerous surf schools around the country. You can see a list of these on the Surfing Federation of India’s website (www.surfingfederationofindia.org) An experienced professional surf instructor is able to ensure that conditions are suitable and the progression is safe when teaching surfers and developing their skills, especially once it comes to surfing on green unbroken and bigger waves.

When a surfer is improving and once they have mastered the basics, the surfer will need to start changing direction and turning. The surfer will firstly start to turn one way and traverse across the wave in the white water. They will then need to start to turn and traverse across the other way.

Sometimes it can be the backside turn, where the surfer is turning across the wave to their heel side that beginners find easiest to do first. Then they start to turn the other way, to their frontside or toeside. It is very important that a surfer learns and develops turning both ways – turning so they are facing the wave (frontside/toeside) as well as turning to that their back is facing the wave (backside/heelside).

Once a surfer is turning strongly across the wave in both directions in white water they can then link the second turn to turn back so that they are facing and heading back to the beach or even turning more strongly to start surfing back in the direction they just surfed from.

When standing up and surfing, surfers can surf either with their left foot at the front and right foot at the back or surf with their right foot at the front and left foot at the back. This is just like being left handed or right handed or batting in cricket left or right handed. In surfing, a surfer who has their right foot at the back and left at the front is called a Natural or Regular Footer. A surfer who stands with their left foot at the back and right foot at the front is called a Goofy Footer.

Surfers also call waves specific terms, depending on which way the wave breaks. When surfing, the wave should break evenly and consistently across the wave face. This allows turns and maneuvers to be performed. These are the moves that a surfer does on a wave. There are many different degrees of difficulty for different types of maneuvers/moves and then different degrees of difficulty for different variations for the different maneuvers/moves. The better a surfer becomes, the higher degree of difficulty maneuvers and variations of moves they are able to perform.

If a wave does not break evenly and consistently across the face and breaks all at once in a single motion, the wave is said to be closing out or the wave closed out.

If a wave is breaking evenly from the left to the right, enabling a surfer to surf across the green face to the right, then this wave is called a Right.

If a wave is breaking evenly from the right to the left, enabling a surfer to surf across the green face to the left, then this wave is called a Left.

Generally, after the beginning stages, surfers can often prefer rights when they are natural footers and lefts if they are goofy footers. To be a good surfer, a surfer needs to be proficient at surfing both left and right.

The best, most efficient and safest way for a surfer to learn and progress their surfing is to get lessons and become part of a professional, recognised and qualified surf school or surf club where they are taught by fully qualified professional surf instructors. This is extremely important, like anything there are safe and correct ways to be taught and progressed and only qualified experienced instructors will be able to do this.

If you are in the Mangalore area, Walkin’ On Water Mangalore, based at Panambur Beach would love to take you out and teach you to surf, get you to feel the thrills and fun of surfing or if you are already surfing, help you progress to the next level. Walkin On Water Mangalore can be contacted on surf@walkinonwatermangalore.com, by phone on 97434 40134 or 99721 13538 or simply seeing them at their base on Panambur Beach by the lifeguards. You can also check out the website walkinonwatermangalore.com or their FaceBook and Instagram accounts – walkinonwatermangalore.

Surfing Terminology

White water waves – these are the broken waves which look white and foamy
Green waves – there are the unbroken waves that are yet to break
Natural/Regular Footer – is a surfer that stands on their board with their right foot at the back
Goofy footer –  is a surfer who stands on their board with their left foot at the back
Frontside/Toeside – surfing in the direction where the surfer’s body is facing the wave
Backside/Heelside – surfing in the direction where the surfer’s back is facing the wave
Wave face – the green unbroken part of the wave is called the Wave Face, Face of the Wave or simply the Face
Manoeuvres – are different turns and movements that a surfer does on a wave. There are many different degrees of difficulty for different types of manoeuvres/moves and then different degrees of difficulty for different variations for the different manoeuvres/moves.
Close Out/Closing out – the term given to a wave that breaks all at once and goes from a green wave to a white water broken wave in a single motion.
Right – a wave that is termed a Right is one that breaks from the left to the right so the surfer surfs it to the right
Left – a wave that is termed a Left is one that breaks from right to left so the surfer surfs it to the left

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