How to Survive Surfing Big Waves

by Jordan Whitehouse
Know the water before you attempt to surf big waves.

Know the water before you attempt to surf big waves.

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If you've been mastering small- and medium-sized waves for a while, it's probably time to move on to surfing big waves if you feel that you're ready. Surfing big waves can be dangerous, however. In deep-water areas, the large surf can be powerful enough to break limbs; in shallower areas, the reef or ocean bottom can leave lasting scars on your skin. To survive surfing big waves, you'll want to prepare properly and know what to expect if you do fall.

Items you will need

  • Big-wave surfboard
Step 1

Purchase a special big-wave surfboard. Sometimes called "guns" or "rhino chasers," these boards are bigger and more stable than typical surfboards. Speak with an experienced surfboard dealer about the types of waves you will be surfing; the dealer will fit you with a proper big-wave surfboard.

Step 2

Look for hazards in the water, such as rocks and exposed reef, before you get in the water, or just after you get in. Take note of these hazards, and avoid them when you're surfing.

Step 3

Work up to progressively bigger waves each time you go out. This will allow you to get a feel for the rhythm and force of the water on any given day.

Step 4

Take a few deep breaths to relax yourself before paddling to a big wave. Paddle hard when you're trying to make the wave. The harder you paddle, the better chances you'll have of surfing it.

Step 5

Stand up quickly once your board is almost at the center of the face of the wave. Avoid the top of the wave by pushing down on your front foot; this will move you down. Avoid the bottom of the wave by pushing down on your bottom foot; this will move you back up.

Step 6

Brace yourself for a fall by taking a deep breath, curling into the fetal position and relaxing your muscles. Try to cover your face with your arms as you go into the water.

Step 7

Stay calm when you're in the water, and don't try to swim to the surface while the wave is still on top of you. Fighting the wave while you're being tossed around will only reduce your energy.

Photo Credits

  • Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images