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Surfing in the Rockaways - Part 2

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Thursday, December 1, 2011

Surfing in the Rockaways - Part 2

Like I said, the first couple of times I went out to surf at Rockaway, I was super anxious. I was anxious to get back in the water. I was anxious to see if I was really able to do this surfing thing on my own or if my experience at surf camp was just a fluke. I was anxious to apply some of my lessons I learned - on my own surf board and beach. I was anxious because I was some place new and wasn't familiar with the territory. 

The hardest thing for me was and still is getting my timing right and figuring out exactly where I need to sit in order to catch the wave in the right spot. That's a big part of what surfing is all about, right? Being able to read the ocean and catch your own waves? If you can't catch any waves, how can you surf?

When we went out in September and October, the waves at Rockaway were small, broke close to shore and crumbled fast. There weren't quite the nice, consistently breaking waves and off-shore winds at Playa Guiones. These waves felt less forgiving. I often found that I was either sitting too far out the back, thinking in my head that I couldn't possibly sit closer to shore, or I overcompensated and sat too far inside. In the first case, I would paddle hard for a wave but wouldn't be able to catch it. In the second case, I would paddle for a wave but because I was too far in front of the wave as it started to bump up and break, the tail of my board would get picked up and flip me right on over. See for yourself.

I'm too late to catch this wave. I think that my board needs to be about half a length further back than where it is in this picture. I think...

Nose of my board starts to dig into the water while my hands instinctively plant themselves out in front of me to try to stop the inevitable.

Oh no!!

Oops. Oh well. Paddle out and try again.


Those first few sessions were so very frustrating and discouraging. But I tried to keep paddling out and trying again. With each wave and its attendant nose dive, I became a little more familiar with the waves at Rockaway, how they behaved and how I needed to behave in concert with them. I figured out that I do have to sit closer in than I think and, as I paddle for a wave and look over my shoulder, the waves tend to look a little steeper than I would think they would. To set myself up in the right place (or close to it), it's usually a two step process. I start off by sitting a little too far out the back. A wave comes towards me, I paddle for it and I don't catch it. While a little annoying, it helps me learn where the wave breaks and where I need to be to be able to actually catch  the wave. Then, I have a better sense of how far I need to be from that spot, based on my paddle speed and how long it takes me to spot the wave, spin around and get myself down on my board. It's a start, right? A work in progress? 

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2 Comments:

At January 16, 2012 at 9:49 AM , Blogger luschen said...

I know what you mean about being too far in or too far out. Looking at your pictures though, I think you would have been good for that wave if you had started popping up in photo #1. Sometimes with smaller waves you can just do two paddles and pop up.

 
At January 16, 2012 at 3:45 PM , Blogger Christine said...

It's so hard to tell sometimes! Thanks for the tip. I am hopeful that I will get a better feel the more time I spend out in the water. Practice, right?

 

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