What surfing small waves can teach you.
Sometimes – believe it or not – it’s good to go out when it’s tiny, to try and trim along knee-high peelers. Living in England, you have to learn to love those small days. Don’t be a wave snob. If you are only surfing glassy head-high peelers (and live in the UK), not only are you going to be dry A LOT of the time, but you’re just going to become a lazy surfer!
Big waves have more power, so do a lot of the work for you. Surfing small waves teaches you a lot about the timing and speed of your paddling. You need to nail the pop up at the most critical moment. Your weight placement and finding that perfect sweet spot on your board is even more paramount. All are things needed to perfect the art of trim!
Surfing small waves forces you to get everything more fine-tuned. Small waves force you to utilise the whole of the wave itself, not just skim along the face of a big one. On a bigger wave, you don’t have to be perfectly positioned to catch it. Equally, you can get away with being far from the power source once you’re up on your feet and riding. Without surfing in the critical part of the wave, especially on a fast breaking wave, you’ll end up riding the white water and miss the wave altogether. Try angling your take-off. If you attempt to go straight into a bottom turn, you’ll be lacking momentum, without the speed and power of a bigger wave. Aim to stay high on the wave to help you generate speed instead.
Learning to surf in small waves
If you’re surfing with a bunch of people, and you’ve got a range in abilities, the group will easily get broken up in large surf. Surfing small waves makes it become more of a team sport. Party waves, tandem surfing and reverse take-offs are a real test of your adaptability and balance. You can mess around and enjoy it rather than scaring yourself. (Although scaring yourself IS a good thing sometimes.) Big waves often force you to get into that fight-or-flight mentality. All you do is purely aim to keep yourself above water as much as possible. The fear of wiping out can override anything technical you are trying to focus on.
Small waves demand technical accuracy, and with you mind fully dedicated to the perfect weight distribution, foot positioning, speed of paddling, upper-body rotation, the way your head if facing… Regardless, surfing more often will do wonders to your surfing fitness. The list goes on. Go for it, get into your suit (even if it’s damp and sandy), and get out there!!