Some wipeouts are funny. And then you’re “privileged” enough to taste those tougher beatings. Finally, you’re invited into those free fall experiences in cold water, six-foot waves. Wipeouts are part of the surfing game. But, can we avoid some of them?
Yes, wipeouts can (and should) be avoided. Broken boards, broken bones, muscle injuries, and even drowning. Are these enough arguments? Wiping out is not good for you, and it can be dangerous to other surfers. Blame on that unexpected steep slope; blame it on the quality of the swell. Right.
Just because it happens, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t avoid them. Wipeouts are only a pleasing spectacle for those who say it is too big to paddle out, and for those who have never caught a wave.
Wipeouts can be classified into several types: a) going over the falls; b) pearling; c) slipping and sliding; d) no-exit barrels; e) hitting obstacles and other surfers. One thing is common to all of them. And there are always unwanted consequences associated with each one of them.
So, why not follow our simple pieces of advice? You will dramatically reduce the number of wipeouts that typically occur in your surfing life. And remember that these recommendations are as valid for kooks and beginners, as they are for intermediate and advanced surfers.
1. If it’s closing out, don’t surf: if you can’t find a wave with a decent surfable face, wait for a higher tide or a new swell.
2. Wax up your surfboard: we fall more often due to bad wax jobs than we imagine. Apply extra grip to the board, especially if the ocean conditions are extreme or challenging;
3. Choose the right board for each type of wave: a longboard in big surf is almost never a good idea.
4. Paddle fast for the wave: keep your head up, and paddle steadily until you feel it’s time to pop up. The sooner you get up on the board, the better.
5. Move your chest backward on the board: avoid pearling – arch your back, and keep the nose slightly above the water surface.
6. Pop up as early as you can: it is easier to control a surfboard when you’re up and riding. Pop up as soon as you possible.
7. Get that front foot centered: you move it forward, you’ll pearl and wipe out; if it’s too close to the back foot, you’ll stall and wipe out. In surfing, feet are wheels.
8. Adopt a low stance: it’s the best way to find an overall optimal balance. Keeping your body low will also allow you to correct small riding mistakes.
9. Find a comfortable surf line: point the nose in the right direction. In other words, find a smooth, gentle slope instead of going for a top-to-bottom, vertical drop.
10. Focus on the wave: forget you’re riding a surfboard, and concentrate on the wave peels down the line.