Thursday, August 23, 2012

Regrouping (Check yourself before you wreck yourself)….Two reasons why surfers have frustrating surf sessions

By Len Barrow

When I was younger I used to have a problem when I surfed.  Sometimes I would lose my rhythm.  As I caught a wave I would go into a cutback and fall off.  On the next wave I would paddle hard for the wave but miss it. Then I would turn around and get pounded by sets that I failed to realize were coming in.  This led to my mind to go astray and my attention began to get frayed.  Frustration would creep in and I would begin to lose my focus and attention.  At times I would get so agitated that I would paddle in.   This influenced the rest of the day for me in a negative manner.  I don’t want you, the reader, to repeat my mistakes.

Len Barrow, paying attention and using Low Volume to Match Low Volume Wave

I would be surprised to find a SUP or surfer who has never had one of these days.  As I grew older I was shown a few techniques from one of my Hawaiian uncles.  These ideas are simple and can really enhance your SUP or surfing experience and I wish to share them with you here.

uncle showed me the idea of what he termed “REGROUPING”.  If your surf session is going badly you need to PAY ATTENTION by analyzing what you are doing wrong.  I know this sounds strange but stop your surfing and paddle to the inside of the break to take time to watch the waves and “reset your rhythm”  You will find that your mistakes usually fall into a two simple categories that I shall explain here.

Here are the primary two reasons why many surfers have bad sessions. 

1.Being Out of Rotation

You may find that every-time you wait for waves, they don’t come or when they do you are stuck on the inside trying to paddle out.  This can be very frustrating, yet there is a solution to this.  Again, stop what you are doing and “regroup” yourself in the following manner.  Paddle to the inside of the surf break.  Why the inside of the break you may ask?  By sitting in front of the whole break you can get a better perspective as to what is happening.  The point being is “how to observe the whole break” in relation to “how the water and waves are moving”.  Once you observe and understand this you can regroup yourself get back to the “pulse’ of the ocean!  You cannot get this perspective by sitting all the way on the outside of the surf point.  By sitting on the inside you may watch, observe and pay-attention to the totality of what is happening in the break .

As you sit, breathe deeply, and calm down.  Pay attention to the patterns of waves coming in.  Never forget that surfing is 80% observation and only 20% physical surfing.  You may notice that the waves are coming in flurries of set (larger waves) at certain time intervals.  Take note of the interval.  Maybe the sets come in every 8-10 minutes.  If this is the case, be patient.  Wait for 8-10 minutes and when the flurry of sets come you can get a wave.  Even if you don’t get the set (due to crowds) you will start becoming more in tune with the timing or pulse of the ocean.  If you do catch a wave at this interval you are beginning to flow more with the ocean!  Slowly paddle out again and wait for the next set.  Bingo!  You are now in what surfers call “Nature's Rotation” and are tuning in to what nature is trying to tell you to do!  This technique seems simple but  it takes a long time to learn yet your surfing enjoyment will go up exponentially.

2.Surfing Too Loud.

Sometimes you may find that you are falling off your board to frequently.  This can get really frustrating. Again, one needs to regroup and pay attention to why one is faltering.  One of the primary reasons that people fall off their boards is that they are surfing to “loud” for the given wave.  Let me explain this phenomena .  If you are on a soft rolling wave, you cannot put too much power or pressure on your board.  If you do this you will dig a rail or your surfing style will look “overdone” and ugly.  Adjust your “volume” to the wave that is given to you.  “Lower your volume” or put less pressure on your rail when you cut back or when you go off the top.  Instead of trying to attack the lip on a soft and mushy wave just lightly “pop” the board off the top.  Remember, you are not supposed to drive 100 miles an hour in a 25mph zone!  This is called “surfing light”.   This will help you to stop digging rail and falling off.   If the waves are big and fast, then you may turn up the volume and really jam the rail into the water.  Until then, take it easy. 

It is important to understand that it is we that must fit our surfing in to nature, not the other way around.  Any good surfer has this figured out.  So the next time you are having a bad day surfing, sit back and regroup using the tips above.  I assure you it will enhance your surfing experience!

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