Winter is fast approaching in the Northern Hemisphere and here on the small, Caribbean island of Puerto Rico, winter means one thing and one thing only: Waves! After months of small, inconsistent surf, the ocean finally begins to wake up from her summertime slumber and blesses our coastline with months of waves. And the colder the winter gets, the bigger the swells will get, and the more crowded the lineups become. Originally I wrote this article with the intention to provide my wave-slidin’ sisters with a few tips to up their wave count, but then I kind of realized that it doesn’t matter if you are a chick or a dude! These tips will help anyone who is looking to catch a couple more waves during their next session. So whether you are about to go on a surf trip to a popular destination, or you are just getting frustrated with the crowds at your home break, try one, three, or all of these suggestions below to help you get your fair share of waves.
- Before you even paddle out believe 110% that you deserve to be out there. Surfers are like sharks, they can sense your fear, and if you appear timid and hesitant they are going to take every single wave from you. In all reality surfing is a selfish sport, and surfing with a crowd comes down to one thing: Confidence. If you know on the inside that you have the ability to be in the lineup then act like it on the outside! Everyone has the right to paddle out and catch a couple of waves.
- Avoid the chaos of the clump. Surfing with a crowd doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to surf directly in the middle of the crowd. Regardless of where the “best” waves are coming in (and many times the crowd is not even on the best peak), find a little spot to yourself outside of the pack. You’re guaranteed to catch way more waves and to have way more fun, plus you are a lot less likely to get run over!
- With that being said, don’t just sit and expect a wave to come to you. Paddle around a little bit. Change up the scenery every now and then. Try to find the waves that other people aren’t looking for. Often times I catch my best waves when I’m paddling back out to the line-up. In order to catch more waves you must always be searching for waves — courteously, of course.
- Don’t back down. When surfing a crowded break you walk a fine line between competition and camaraderie. If you are in the right spot on a wave (usually the one closest to the peak) don’t back down to the person grilling you on the inside. It’s your wave, paddle hard! This is where that confidence factor really comes into play. And no need to mean mug, you can paddle hard and smile at the same time!
- Commit. Commit. Commit. Quite possibility the number one way to earn yourself a couple more waves. You’ve done the work– you’ve paddled hard and you’ve claimed the wave – so all that’s left for you to do is to take it! Go! Stand up! Get tumbled over the falls, whatever! This is what you’ve been working so hard for. And this is the advice that my boyfriend always gives me when I start to get frustrated… and he always seems to catch ten times the amount of waves I do! “Even if you don’t make it,” he tells me, “its way better than pulling back!” And it is. Because once the other surfers realize that you are actually going to go, you will find yourself getting hassled a lot less.
- Most importantly, give respect to get respect. If it is your goal to get your wave count up, great, I support you 100%, but always remember that nobody likes the wave hogs. Nobody likes “that person” who paddles around you, paddles inside you, and paddles for every single wave as if it were their last. Respect the other surfers in the lineup and make sure you are familiar with the etiquette before paddling out into a crowded break. When there is good energy in the water everyone seems to catch more waves and have more fun – and isn’t that really what surfing is all about?