Surfing beach breaks can be challenging for new surfers to professionals alike. With shifting sand banks, currents and the option to go both left and right, surfers enjoying beach breaks often have many decisions to make. This article explores the challenges to beach break surfing, and provides tips on how to make the most of one of surfings most common arenas.
Watch the break for 10 minutes, at least!
Often when we pull up in our cars we are so excited to get in the water that we can forget to assess the conditions and figure out a game plan for the session. With close outs, crowds and tide dependant peaks, it often helps to assess what is going on for at least 10 minutes to get a fair idea of where is best to sit.
Even though one bank may look to be working well, there may be something better and less crowded 50 metres down the beach. Often surfers are sheep and will just end up surfing where the crowd is. Do yourself a favour and simply look.
Make the most of rips
Rips often get a bad rep from society. For swimmers and other water goers rips can be dangerous, but for surfers, we can actually use them to our advantage. Rips to surfers are like chairlifts to skiiers and snowboarders. They can get us to where we want to be, quickly.
Forget slaving away, battling through the whitewash – just jump in a rip and let it carry you out past the turbulence. Again, if you take the time to watch the ocean before you jump in you can map out which rips to use to your advantage, as well as which rips will take you away from where you want to be.
Consider riding a different board
If you have a different board a beach break may well be a great time to use it! Simply put, changeable conditions require a change in board. A board that may work well on one type of wave will not necessarily flourish in another. Boards are designed to operate differently under different conditions. Don’t make life hard for yourself – consider switching it up.
Pay close attention to how the tides react with the sandbanks
Beaches can be very temperamental in the sense that the waves produced at high tide can be drastically different to those produced at low tide. When it comes to surfing beachies you have to know your stuff. Don’t be lazy and assume it will always be firing.
Get to know the beach, learn what wind, swell and tide it works the best on and go from there. If it means you have to find out the hard way then so be it. Better yet, if you are new to a beach, ask the locals. Be friendly and respectful and hopefully they will shed some knowledge that will allow you to score the best waves of the day.
Make a marking point on land
Beach breaks can often mean currents and drifting line ups. It is always helpful to make a marking point on land as soon as you reach the perfect spot in the line up. Surfers are sheep and can often be unaware that they are drifting right off the peak.
If you have a marking spot (wether it be a particular tree, rock, or other non moving object) you can ensure that you can keep in place while your fellow competitors on the peak blissfully float away. One helpful hint, don’t forget where your marking spot is and remember to check every few waves!
Fortunately beach breaks contain sand. Even more fortunately, sand does not hurt to land on as much as reef or rock (unless you go headfirst, but this will hurt wherever you are.) Make the most of the softer ground and go for it.
Practice surfing bigger, faster and harder. Have a go at using a spot like this to try and surf more vertically and ambitiously. Want to try and get barrelled? Try at a beachie. Although beachies have their downsides, they also provide surfers with an arena to muck around, to spread out and to practice manoeuvres they are too cautious to do elsewhere.
Overall surfing beach breaks requires you to surf strategically.
Sometimes you have to plan, search and think about how to approach the session. On a positive note, beach breaks can provide some of the funnest and most perfect waves on the planet. Their layout and shifting sand keeps surfing fun and challenging. There are still many beach breaks that are willing to be discovered and remember, it is always pumping somewhere in the world. Now hurry up and get out there!