WHY ARE WAVES SMALLER IN SUMMER?
Every summer, your playground is transformed: the massive swells caused by winter storms give way to a small swell of wind, forming small and less powerful “mushy” waves at your spot.
Contrary to popular belief, small summer waves are the perfect opportunity to improve your surfing technique and keep having fun. Provided, of course, that you have a suitable surfboard in your quiver.
SMALL SUMMER WAVES ARE IDEAL FOR IMPROVING YOUR SURFING TECHNIQUE
To improve your surfing, you must be able to adapt to all types of wave conditions. To do so, practise surfing with surfboard shapes suitable for small summer waves:
1 – PRACTISE SURFING WITH HIGH-VOLUME SURFBOARDS
A surfboard with more volume makes it easier to paddle and take off earlier on less powerful, so-called “mushy” waves. Depending on the type of waves, you will find the following at the break this summer:
THE LONGBOARD: SURF ON SMALL MUSHY WAVES
A longboard lets you take off earlier than with a small board, when the wave is just beginning to form. Once all the other surfers on small boards are behind you, a longboard lets you surf the wave for longer, giving you endless rides, even on small mushy waves.
THE “TWIN FISH” OR “MINI SIMMONS”: CHARGE INTO THE SHOREBREAK
Short, rounded and with volume, these are the perfect surfboards for having fun and carving up small summer waves. More and more surfers are using them instead of longboards for their manoeuvrability and their compact size.
Sometimes set up as a twin fin, these boards do not have much of a rocker and have a good amount of buoyancy and above all let you perform “old school” tricks more easily than any other board.
Unlike a longboard, these types of boards are difficult to surf in larger and hollow waves but are perfect for having fun in small waves close to the beach. Surfing the shorebreak is, however, not recommended if you are a beginner; this type of wave generally breaks violently on the sand and has a fairly powerful backwash.
2 – LEARN TO GENERATE SPEED WHEN SURFING
Before trying to add to your repertoire of surfing moves, it is important to remember that generating speed is fundamental to successfully taking off and executing tricks. Speed will allow you to surf the waves for longer, get through “sections” (areas where the wave tends to close out), pick up power, change direction and perform your first tricks.
Mushy waves let you practise increasing your speed. This way, when the hollower waves return, the results will be exponential!
SURFING TRAINING EXERCISE: THE TOP BOTTOM
WARM UP: BODYSURFING
Bodysurfing is the basis of surfing. Before you start surfing, catch a few waves without fins close to the shore. Let yourself glide, with your arms outstretched in front of you. This warm-up exercise before the session is particularly useful for beginner surfers since it improves how you read the wave and reinforces the notion of timing. Indeed, once at the break, we do not wait until the last minute to catch the wave; the sooner the surfer begins to paddle, the lower the chance of missing the wave.
Once standing on your surfboard, you have two options for surfing:
– position yourself in the middle of the wave and go at the same speed as it.
– be active with your board to go faster than the speed of the breaking wave:
- PUMPING OR “CHARGING”: SHIFTING YOUR BODY WEIGHT ONTO YOUR FRONT LEG TO PICK UP SPEED
- STARTING YOUR TURN AT THE BOTTOM OF THE WAVE
- “CUTBACK”: STANDING UP WHILE GOING BACK UP THE TOP THIRD OF THE WAVE
- THE COMBINATION OF THESE ACTIONS LET YOU REACH MAXIMUM SPEED
- DOING A TRICK AT THE END OF THE WAVE: BY ORDER OF DIFFICULTY: RE-ENTRY OR FLOATER OR AERIAL
KEEP PRACTISING OUT OF THE WATER:
Surfing strengthens the upper limbs more than the lower limbs. However, to perform this exercise, you will need explosive power. Keep training out of the water by doing squats or cycling.
Result: with more toned legs, your bearings will be firmer as you try to gain speed and you will have better control over your trajectory.
3 – DO NEW SURFING TRICKS
LONGBOARD TRICKS: NOSERIDING
Noseriding is king in the world of longboard tricks. This move consists of moving to the extreme front end of your surfboard, the nose. There are two variations of noseriding: the “hang-ten”, where you put your ten toes either side of the nose and the “hang-five” with, by deduction, only one foot at the front.
Moving to the front of your surfboard is a good for gaining speed when the wave loses power, but it causes you to lose handling.
The difficulty of this move lies in the transfer of the rider’s weight towards the front of the board, which must be done gradually, in small cross steps. As soon as the board begins to nosedive, the rider must shift their bodyweight slightly towards the rear, or even step backwards.
Note: this exercise can be performed on a surfboard with a spoon nose, preferably a longboard.
SMALL SUMMER WAVES ARE IDEAL FOR SIMPLY HAVING FUN
FOAM SURFBOARD: HAVE FUN SAFELY
A foam surfboard is ideal for surfing in the summer because it has many advantages:
1) Stable thanks to its large volume, it is the frustration-free board for learning to surf and catching a maximum of waves with each session,
2) More durable than a classic surfboard thanks to its reinforced foam construction, you will not risk breaking your board if you go and surf the shorebreak
3) Reduces the risk of accidents: a detail that becomes important during a summer session where it can become very crowded in the water.
4) The foam board is more affordable for small budgets, due to its simpler design than an epoxy or polyester surfboard
To sum up, surfing with a foam board in the summer when you’re experienced is a great way to have fun with friends or family and to try out new tricks without risking breaking your board or hurting yourself.
Article co-written with Hendaia surf school in Hendaye (France).