Updated: May 9
It is a struggle every surfer will face, especially in the beginning. You warm up, paddle in, and try to catch your first wave, but because you didn't catch it, the waves crash on you, and you wonder if you should have waited a little longer and observed the waves?
I thought the same thing, which is why I wanted to share some basic information about Waves that will enable you to choose better waves and greatly improve your surfing skills.
The purpose of this article is to summarize
the most essential information you need to know About waves and to help you catch more of them.
Let's dive in!
What is a wave?
A wave is a power-generating source formed by the force of the wind in an area of the ocean. Waves are technically called fetch, but the creation of waves is much more complicated than that.
It is thanks to a wide range of factors that its creation can take place and it will also depend on that classification whether or not the waves are ideal for: surfing or are for practicing other water sports.
The Wave Origin
The most traditional waves originate from the friction of the wind on the sea surface, since the wind pushes it, creating waves that offer resistance to the wind, which causes them to transform into increasingly larger undulations until their final break.
In this way, the most common waves will originate depending on 3 elements:
Strength of the wind
The time during which it is blowing
The oceanic area affected by that wind
The gravity of the earth also plays a fundamental role in this equation, since after the wind raises the surface of the sea, gravity pushes it back down, so as it rises and falls.
Classification of waves depending on their origin factor
Origin of its structure:
Wind waves: are produced in a short distance from the coast and in a short time.
Swell: start thousands of miles away from their breaking point.
2. Breaking direction:
Right Waves: progressively break to the right
Left Waves: progressively break to the left
Mixed waves: break in both directions
Closeout waves: the wave breaks completely at once. It has no wall and we cannot go anywhere in particular.
3. Sea bottom
Sand Bottom: the waves break on sand, which is less dangerous than other types of bottoms. They are unstable waves, which vary based on the tides and currents.
Rock bottom: The wave breaks on a stone or rock bottom. They are very stable bottoms, very constant waves with similar peaks.
Reef Bottom: the wave breaks on a coral reef bottom . They have the same conditions as rock bottoms. The coral is a living organism, with little growth, maintaining stability. They occur in more oxygenated waters, the bottom is easier to observe.
4. Structure of Break
Hollow waves: the crest of the wave exceeds the base of it. A cylindrical shape is generated inside it. They are perfect waves for surfing.
Tubular Waves: variation of hollow waves. The upper part rises and closes a tube inside it. Surfers catch their wall completely surrounded by it.
Wavy Waves: Its base is ahead of its highest part. Almost completely foam. They generally do not break. They lack much slope.
Shore Waves: they break very close to the shore. They are waves that can be very small or extremely gigantic. They generally offer little space to surf. Ideal for other surfing modalities such as Skimboard.
In this article, I have described what a wave is, how it forms, the different types of waves, and the direction and the way they break. All these characteristics should be considered when choosing a beach and a day to surf and which wave to catch in the session for the best experience.
The ability to read waves and make decisions in this subject depends of course on how much time you spend observing the sea, experimenting and learning while you move, and, above all, patience and perseverance.
A sport like surfing requires a lot of patience, connection to the ocean and yourself, physical ability, and most importantly, the ability to enjoy the process and challenge.
For me, satisfaction comes from the journey, and of course, the small victories along the way. Surfing is about knowing how to observe a situation, listening, and always being open to new things.
The first thing to take into account before going to surf is weather conditions, you can have reference through web pages specialized in weather forecasts.
As soon as you arrive at the surf spot, stretch to prepare your body for the sport and prevent unwanted injuries. then,start by analyzing the current movements, with practice and time you will begin to understand how the ocean works and how you can efficiently reach the line up without wasting energy.
You should take at least five minutes to compare and observe a few waves once you reach the break. You can use this method to get an idea of the period of your waves, when and where they break, and where you will finish the wave.
You can use this routine to create habits and improve your safety whenever you go surfing.
All this theory and much more is taught in our surfing lessons at Tamarindo beach Costa Rica, with the best instructors for an easy and enjoyable experience for every level of surfers.
If you choose our staff will be happy to walk you through the process of catching waves and enjoying the feeling of floating in the water- feel free to reach us on whatsapp !
One last and very important trick i learned from an old friend and i want to share with you: "when it comes to catching waves : never catch the first wave in a set, aim to catch the third- usually it is the best one”.