Mistake #3. Going “All the Way Out Where the Other Surfers Are”
This is an understandable mistake that a surfing beginner makes. You pull up at the beach, and go out where the surfers are, right? Not so fast, Scooter. If the waves are anywhere over chest high, the more experienced surfers will be on the ‘outside break’, catching unbroken waves, or ‘open-face waves’. YOU, should start your lesson on the ‘inside break’ or whitewater, after the wave has broken. This, of course, assumes there are no obstacle courses of shallow reef and rocks.
For most surfing areas, taking off on an unbroken wave is a skill of timing and wave judgement that takes years to learn. Mastering the mechanics and skill of a successful takeoff will always be the hardest part of surfing.
What typically happens when you screw-up is called “pearling” (from the endearing term “pearl diving”). That’s when you’ve miss-timed the takeoff and gotten into the wave too late – when the wave face is too steep. Now the front of the board is ‘nosing under’ – it spears straight down under water, sending you tumbling head-over-heels. The board flies into the air, and often comes back down on your head just as you’re coming up for air. Isn’t surfing great!
AND, you may have also just pulled another boner, Chuck; You “dropped-in” on another surfer. The cardinal rule-of-the-jungle in surfing is “don’t drop-in in front of another surfer”. It’s the surfing ‘right-of-way’. In competition it’s called ‘wave priority’ or ‘the priority rule’.
What’s that? When the other surfer has already caught the wave, and is angling towards you, they have priority. This is just safety and simple physics: A surfer who’s up and riding, going across the wave towards you is moving fast with momentum. When you try to take off in her path, a collision is likely.
Hey, I know where you can get a lesson on all this stuff … : ).
– Jaz Kaner