What to Do When the Surf is Too Big

A leisurely, laid-back surf for one surfer can be a massive challenge for another.

If you're a beginner or an intermediate, you will experience days when the surf is a little too high and heavy and you feel that you're way out of your depth.

If it’s too treacherous for your skillset, it might be best to stay on the beach and watch more experienced riders strut their stuff, but what happens when you’re on the water and the crest is bearing down on you?

How to Tackle Big Waves When You're Inexperienced

If the waves are big and heavy and you don't have the skill to tackle them, it's probably time to get out and find a calmer surf spot.

If you keep facing off against waves that are beyond your skill level, you're only going to risk damaging your board, and even your body.

If you decide to head straight for those big waves, keep the following in mind:

  1. Make sure you're committed to riding the wave. You're going to need that confidence behind you.
  2. Head to the outside of the wave as soon as it begins to crest.
  3. From here, you can choose to ride the wave or just go straight over it.
  4. If you can't catch and surf the wave, you're going to need to get underneath it.
  5. If you have a shortboard, you can duck dive to get underneath it. If not, you'll need to do a turtle roll.

To perform a turtle roll, just lay flat on the board, grip the rails tightly, and then flip it over, so that you're underneath the water and the board is above you.

It should wash over you fairly harmlessly.

If not, the wave is going to catch you and toss you, and that's only going to happen a couple of times before you decide that it's time to call it a day!

If it's too late to turtle roll, you can just bail and dive.

Assuming you're wearing a leash and there is no one around you, the wave will take the board, pull it along, and drag you with it.

Hold your breath, wait for the energy to be sucked out of the wave, and pop up.

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