How to Read a Wave
Learn how to read a wave with our complete step-by-step guide. Begin with learning the anatomy of a wave and then how to identify the right wave to surf.
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Learning how to read a wave is one of the things that every improving surfer wants to master.
It’s so easy when you’re out there with your surf instructor, and he starts yelling “paddle! paddle!” – You never have to even think about which wave to go for. But, once you begin to improve and you’re sitting out in the line-up by yourself surrounded by more experienced surfers, it’s so easy to begin second-guessing yourself. Leaving you 20 waves in without a single ride.
The first thing you’ll need to do when learning how to read a wave is to understand the basic anatomy of a wave – where it starts, where it breaks, and what part you’re supposed to surf!
When you’re sitting on your board at the line-up, look towards the horizon. You’ll soon see a wave start to form and once it does, identify the peak (remember: this is the highest point of the wave).
The wave will begin breaking from the peak.
The side of the peak which has the steepest angle is the side the wave will break – this is the direction you will surf. So if the peak begins to break from the left (looking at the wave) make a mental note that you’ll need to make a swift left turn once you pop up. Vice versa, if the peak begins breaking from the right (looking towards the wave), you’ll need to make a right hand turn to surf the wave right.
If there is no clear angle on either side of the peak, it will more than likely closeout. A closeout is where a wave breaks all at once, and you can’t surf left or right – the best thing to do here is paddle out past the peak it and wait for the next set of waves to come in.
So, you’ve assessed your wave, you’ve identified the peak, and can see which way it’s going to break – how do you catch it?
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