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Catching An Unbroken Wave

How to #popup on a wave before it breaks. The ultimate surfers drop-in.
By Lucas Coleman

When most surfers first learn to pop-up on a #surfboard, they are #catching the #white-#water (A wave that has already crashed further out, and is rolling into shore). But the ultimate goal of surfing, and the thing that determines wether you’ve really made it, is when you can catch a wave before it crashes, while it’s still a mellow, glassy bump.

This is hands down, the most difficult thing to learn along the surfers #journey. But with these 3 #simple #tips, we can take the guess work out of surfing, and aim for accuracy with every wave.

1. Picking the right spot to #paddle out.

When you first arrive at the beach, to the untrained eye it may look like waves are breaking randomly all over the place. But if you were to sit there studying it, you would notice that every single #wave (on a good day) emanates from one consistent spot. We call this area that a wave first begins and eventually crashes all the way to shore a “section”.

As you walk along the beach there may be several sections. One of them by the pier, and then another fifty yards down. Sometimes the sections are close together and some of them are far apart. It all depends on the day, the beach, and the #tide. The important thing is that you choose a section where the waves are rolling in slowly. You can spot where that little glassy bump first appears, and it looks like it takes a distinguishable amount of time before it actually crashes into the white water.

Protip: When you think you’ve found a good section. Turn around and look at a #landmark on the shore it’s breaking in front of. If you can clearly see it’s always rolling in directly across from the #lifeguard #tower, then try to stay in front of that specific tower (that section or spot) the entire session. The more you wander around, the more confusing it will be. And consistency is the key to this.

2. How Far Out Should I #Paddle?

Now that you have chosen your section, lets hyper-focus on the 1 singular spot that the wave actually crashes. The very first square yard where the waves turns from a smooth, glassy bump, into a white-water rapid.

This impact zone is better known as The #Crown. The central breaking point of the wave. This is the part that breaks because it is the heaviest, most water dense, top-heavy tower of piece of the wave. If this wave were a #pizza, then this slice would be the #cheesiest.

You want to paddle yourself approximately 10ft behind the crown of the wave. This distance sort of depends on the wave itself and what style board you are riding. Huge #longboards can go even further back, while short boards want to be closer to the impact zone.

But essentially you want to position yourself where that little bump, that little fetal baby waves has just started to grow.

3. I'm in position... What now?

Now that you are in the right spot, and remember that this will consistently be the exact spot you will want to be starting in the whole session, you want to start paddling toward the shore, at a #speed that allows the wave to catch up with you.

As soon as you feel that wave start to pull you along. Almost to where that tiresome paddling is no longer necessary. I like to think of it as walking along one of those moving sidewalks at the airport. You walk, but the sidewalk helps propel you at supersede. Once you feel that push, start your pop up and aim to have your feet planted before that wave crashes.

Protip: Since you are popping up on a smooth wave, try and execute a smooth pop-up.

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