Incredible Photo by Luke Bhothipiti
Those Darn Pros!
It would be to my advantage to have the surfing masses cower in terror when I paddle by them. But in all seriousness, ever personally meet a professional surfer?
So how do we do those super human things we do?
We use everything to our advantage.
Running the Paddling Race
My home break is nestled against a mega-jetty. On a big day, I am greeted by a paddle out that could be a 3/4 of a mile. Further down the beach is another section that breaks closer to shore but still is a pain to get to. Beyond that is another outer section where big peaks roll through.
My friends and I laugh at the civilians. There is a big trench that runs next to the jetty with a strong rip that pulls you out to sea. On smaller days, the sand builds up right along the rocks so you can walk out along the jetty way past the outside section of the Pole Bowl, which is the section down the beach. We just stroll out past where the surfers are and jump in and paddle over without a care in the world. If the water is too deep, we just paddle in the trench and we are far beyond the break in a matter of minutes.
Now my home break with a bit more size. Notice how you can slip out by the jetty? Photo by Patrick Ruddy.
When you carefully inspect this photo; notice how many surfers are paddling out on the left side of the photo and how many can you find paddling by the rocks? Now think of how much time and energy it would take to get the furthest take off area by taking the route to the left.
Trick or Treats?
Tricks like this can be used in a variety of situations. Around jetties, close to the headlands by point breaks, and around piers. Even some breaks have small refracting waves that break up the white water when you are paddling out. Once you see the wave moving down the beach, you can time it so you can use the disruption to get under the white water easier.
This is because the ocean is constantly moving. The water naturally returns seaward by finding deeper trenches. If waves are breaking in a predominant manner, the water can be pushed toward the beach and then it sweeps along the shore in the opposite direction of the breaking waves seeking an area to return to the sea. This happens frequently when the water finds the trenches I spoke of and the rip offers a free ride back out.
One word of advice…Just be careful when paddling out around structures to ensure the current is running the right way so you do not end up becoming a victim of running aground on a jetty or hitting the pier pilings. If you unsure, wait for someone who is familiar with the break to paddle out and watch how they did it.
play the game smart and you will have more energy to spend on what matters the most which is surfing…not an endless paddle out.