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PSCo. Tutorials: Riding the Green Wave

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There are a few milestones in surfing that compare to the feeling of catching that first unbroken or “green” wave. It is that elevator drop and glide down an inexplicable wall of water that will forever deepen surfing's hold upon you.

Before we get into it, let’s define the “green wave”. Also known as the pocket, this is the most dynamic part of the wave where the surfer is aiming to spend as much time as possible. A ride in the pocket will allow the surfer to go across the wave or “down the line” to the left or right, depending on which way the wave itself is breaking. 

For the purposes of this tutorial, we won’t focus so much on going left or right, but rather,  how to catch a green wave in the first place.

We recommend applying the lessons of this tutorial in small waves less than 3ft in height and shorter than 9 seconds in interval. A gentle beach break like the Maltby Road access part of Cox bay is ideal. As for equipment, try riding a high volume board longer than 7ft. 

1. Paddle out “past the break”

In order to catch green waves, you’ll need to be able to get past the whitewash zone and into the breaking waves. Wait for a lull in between sets of waves and then jump on your board with the nose pointed directly to the waves. Paddle out with confident strokes and keep your nose pointed directly to the oncoming waves. 

This part is tricky and requires a whole new tutorial in itself, so for now stick to trying it in small waves for a better success rate. 

Persistence pays off here. If you get knocked off your board by a wave, jump right back on and remember Dory from finding Nemo: “Just keep swimming, just keep swimming” (paddling) and you’ll make it!

2. Wave Selection 

So you’ve made it out past the break. Straddle your board and after catching your breath and congratulating yourself, you’ll want to start scanning the ocean for potential waves. We are looking for approaching waves that group themselves in sets. Identify a set, and we can start to anticipate where the waves are going to break by studying them as they approach. We are looking for a wave with a long, tapering wall.

What does that mean? It means that the wave will not break all at once in a big “close-out”, but will peel gradually.

3. Catch it before it breaks

Once you have found that wave, position yourself at the steepest, most powerful part of it. This is known as the peak. If it has already begun to break, you are too late and should let that wave pass, so that you are in a better position for the next one. Remember that wave selection is also about the waves you don’t go for.

Once you have identified an oncoming peak, turn your board towards shore and begin paddling with long, strong strokes. You’ll want to keep your eye on the wave for as long as possible before it is right on top of you and you are fully committed to the wave. 

As the wave reaches the tail of your board, you’ll know you’ve caught it when you feel your paddles start to become effortless with the accelerating surfboard. This means that you have tapped into the unbroken power source and are ready to pop up.

4. Clean pop-up and holding stance

How we start our wave has a massive influence on the success of your overall ride. Once we have progressed beyond that first beginner lesson, the pop-up can often go neglected. Dial in your pop-up before going out into the breakers by checking out our Pop-up Tutorial blog.

Once you are up and riding, you’ll want to maintain a low stance by bending the knees slightly above 90 degrees in an athletic squat. Don’t worry, once you’ve done that 100 times the style can come!

5. Enjoy the ride

Our trained instructors can teach a variety of ability levels beyond the beginner lesson. If  you are keen to push your surfing skills to the next level beyond the whitewash waves, then we suggest booking a private 1-on-1 and letting us know your goals when you book. But, be careful, for one good green wave and you might just quit your day job!

Blog written by Adam Tory

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