Surfing is all about waves; finding the best ones and then catching a ride. Surfing requires an ocean, a surfboard and waves. You must have all three or it does not work. Not just any wave will work; certain waves are great for beginners and other waves require some degree of expertise before attempting to surf. Identifying the different surfing waves is the first step toward finding the right waves.
The terrain of the ocean's bottom determines where waves break. Beach brake waves represent the simple waves you see at a beach. These waves roll in and break close to shore. They allow beginners to learn how to surf as the breaks occur in shallow water. A point break is a group of rocks that causes the wave to break. The reef break, which is particularly dangerous, refers to a coral reef that causes the wave to break. The point and reef breaks produce larger waves for more experienced surfers.
Right and Left
As you sit on your surfboard you will notice that waves break either to the right or left. Knowing which way the wave breaks determines how to catch and ride the wave. When the wave breaks from your right, paddle to your left to successfully catch the wave. Paddle to the right when the wave breaks from your left.
Wind and Waves
Wind conditions and directions vary every day at the ocean and effect the kinds of surfing waves. Onshore and cross shore winds do not produce good surfing waves while offshore winds create the best conditions. Two types of poor surfing waves are closeout, which break all at once, and crumbly, which have no substance or power. Sometimes conditions combine two waves into one powerful surfing wave known as a double-up which is a great surfing wave but potentially dangerous for all but the most experienced surfers.
One of the most spectacular surfing experiences involves the tube wave. This requires a large wave that breaks and continues for a period of time. During that time a "tube" is formed beneath the breaking wave. The surfer is surrounded by water with the breaking wave over his head.
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