Changing Gears When Surfing

The speed of a wave dictates what a surfer performs depending on the section faced. Fundamentally, waves vary in their pace and makeup as they break along a sandbank, and surfers have to adapt to these changes to maximise the value a wave offers. There’s a simple formula here:
  1. If a wave goes flat, surfers should decisively drive back to the foam to allow the wave to rebuild into a steeper wall.
  2. They should drive back far enough so that the next setup bottom turn is performed under the foam ball or breaking lip. This creates “depth” in a surfing performance, which allows surfers to perform more critical and risky manoeuvres off the top.
  3. And then any manoeuvre off the top should be performed high and tight, no more than one metre from the foam.
So when you think about the “pacing” of the above, surfers should drive “hard and controlled” back towards the foam in flat sections, slow and smooth off the bottom, and then, fast and aggressive off the top. “Changing gears” to fit the various sections of a wave is an important way to display skill and to surf each section to maximise its full value.

Changing Gears