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Surf Better Series #2 - A Beginner's Guide to the Take-Off

One of the biggest obstacles for a lot of new surfers is getting up at the right time & place to ensure they have enough speed to pop-up. So here are some basic steps to help you progress.

  1. RIGHT OR LEFT? As the wave approaches, determine if it’s a right or left. You would think this would be obvious, but all the time you see a surfer pop-up straight into a closeout - if they had gone the other way it would have been open & perfect.

  2. PADDLE OUT Vs PADDLE IN: Will the take off be too steep for your ability? Are you too far out? Timing is everything! Most new surfers see a wave, turn, then paddle as fast as they can. They forget to glance back to see what the wave is doing or if they are still in the right position.The wave should be beginning to stand up and the face will be starting to get steep.

  3. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE PRIORITY: The surfer closest to the highest point of the wave (the peak) has the right of way on the wave. This means that if you are catching a wave on the right-hand side of its peak and a surfer to the left of you intends to catch the same wave, this surfer has priority and you must get out of their way.

  4. TAKE OFF STRAIGHT VS ANGLED?: Too many beginner surfers are hyper-fixated on taking off straight, which is great on slower moving waves. Sometimes the wave will require an angled take-off without a bottom-turn to stay high & drive across the face.

  5. EFFICIENT PADDLING: Just like when you swim in a pool, if you are splashing with each stroke then you are wasting energy. Cup your hand, fingers together, & smoothly pull through. Your arm should be as deep as comfortably possible without making your body roll. It’s not just your hand that shifts water but your forearm as well. Making sure to time your stroke rate with the speed needed, ensuring your paddling the fastest as the wave reaches you.

  6. TRIMMING & TIMING: Gauging the timing of when to pop-up is possibly the most difficult part of the take-off. As you approach wave riding speed your board begins to plane across the water. You will get a burst of speed from the wave & once you feel your board become weightless this is the time to pop-up.

Next Week we will take a look at the pop-up to ensure you are setting yourself up for success.Please let me know if you have any questions and I'll do my best to answer them ASAP.


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