Who has ridden on the back of a wave knows that the sensation of sliding on the sea is addictive. It is not surprising, therefore, that surfing is an increasingly practiced sport. It is estimated that there are about 23 million surfers worldwide, according to the International Surfing Association; and the Spanish Surf Federation has seen the number of registrants increase considerably in just nine years – from 6,582 in 2010 to 48,181 registered in 2019.
Antón Cobas, a 27-year-old Galician, Primary Education teacher and surf instructor at ARTsurfcamp camp on Razo beach (Galicia), describes the experience as “A sport that demands a lot and provides little, but that makes you return to the sea again and again”. He was 4 or 5 years old when he caught his first wave and since then he has not gotten off the board.
Of course, although surfing seems easy, the sea is a changing environment, greatly affected by the weather and the terrain, and not all beaches are the same. In fact, this is a sport considered risky, so knowing how to ‘read’ the waves is essential, both for experts and beginners, in order not to put our lives in danger and enjoy the dip.
Two things to remember is that the biggest wave is not always the most suitable and that each one must know their limits. «The surf bubble does not stop growing and there are more and more surfers. In the absence of written rules, it seems that the sea is synonymous with free will, but there are guidelines that should be known and followed. The sea belongs to everyone and anyone has the right to surf it, but safety comes first and, according to our level and experience, we will have to place ourselves in one place or another, ”says the instructor.
A trick to know where to put ourselves is observe the level of the rest of the surfers in the water and choose the area where those who have a similar level to ours are located.
The right table
Also, it’s interesting consult a wave forecast website and check if the conditions are ideal to get into the water. There are many, including Surf-Forecast.com or magicseaweed.com. If this is not possible, we can ask the local people or the surf schools themselves.
It is also important to know the characteristics of the beach. “Depending on the seabed (sand, rocks, coral …) the waves will be more or less aggressive. Likewise, the less depth there is, the more dangerous and demanding they will be », explains the young Galician.
The waves originate from the friction of the wind on the surface of the sea in the middle of the ocean and from there travel to the coast. To distinguish them, they are classified according to their direction and break. A) Yes, There are waves of the left, right, peak or cerrotes. Direction is determined by the surfer’s vision. That is to say, if from the shore you see that a person is surfing to the right, it is that they are catching a wave to the left, and vice versa ”, Cobas points out.
For its part, the peak waves break simultaneously to both sides, so that two people can slide through it at the same time in different directions. The hills, on the other hand, are waves that break suddenly, which makes them very difficult to surf.
Positioning yourself correctly in the surf zone is the key to catching a wave. For it, we must not lose sight of the horizon. When the wave approaches, try to find its highest point (the peak). The ideal is to paddle towards the peak to be able to catch the wave before it breaks. If this is not possible, position yourself to the right or left of the peak according to the direction of the wave to take advantage of its escape (the last area to break). Find the right position on the board and start paddling towards shore hard. Get up and surf facing the beach, not the board.
If we see that the wave is broken and we will not be able to surf it, there are several alternatives. «The most used is abandon the ‘ship’ and dive down and forward. When the wave passes, the board recovers thanks to the invention and paddles again », says Cobas. «Who has more experience and an easily submersible board can try to do the duckA maneuver that consists of passing next to the board under the wave without moving forward, but moving back the least, “he adds.
The instructor highlights that «The choice of the table is one of the most important factors, as it is the only material that will allow us to catch the wave easily or it will harm us. In a generalized way, a long board will have more paddles than a short one; a wide one, more stability than a narrow one; and a thick, more buoyancy than a thin. By playing with these three variables, we get a table whose volume is according to our level, weight and height, which are the three main aspects to take into account ».
- Crest or peak
Highest part of the wave.
Concave part of the wave that the surfer glides on.
Lower part of the wave.
The top of the wave wall projecting forward.
White turbulence as a consequence of the collision between the lip and the base of the wave.
- Impact zone
Exact point where the lip hits the base of the wave.
A gap that is created when the wave breaks.
Part of the wave that is the last to break and that allows the surfer to perform maneuvers.