Five Big Wave Surfing Tips with Mark Visser (part 2)

Scoping out the conditions at Mullaghmore.

Scoping out the conditions at Mullaghmore. "When you arrive at a new surf break for the first time, try to take in your surroundings before you paddle out. Make an effort to look at all the hazards and potential scenarios that could happen before you hit the water."

© 2014 - Gary McCall

If you read part 1 of Mark Visser's big wave tips you should already be well on your way to taking on Peahi, or maybe just your local beachbreak on a solid day. You can download his ebook for free HERE.

Part 2 explains the importance of relaxation in the face of carnage, and getting your bearings before your toes even touch the water.

Tip #1: Limiting The Risk
When you arrive at a new surf break for the first time, try to take in your surroundings before you paddle out. Make an effort to look at all the hazards and potential scenarios that could happen before you hit the water.

You could ask yourself:
–Where is the safest way to enter or exit the water if there are rocks, strong currents or rips?
–If I wipe out, where would I end up?
–Where are the dangers I have to look out for? E.g. rocks, heavy kelp, dangerous sea life or rips.
–Where is the best place to paddle back out from after I’ve caught a wave?

At reef passes such as Cloudbreak it can be tricky place to find your position. The tower on the far right of the photo is one of the few static objects to line up with.

At reef passes such as Cloudbreak it can be tricky place to find your position. The tower on the far right of the photo is one of the few static objects to line up with.

© 2014 - Stuart Johnson

Tip #2: Markers: Check your position.
Whether it’s a dangerous break with rocks or simply a sand bank, surfers can quickly assess the situation while getting ready to go out. They can do this by watching others and asking questions. Majority of the time people are more than happy to offer advice. Lifeguards or other people who have just come in from the surf will have the best knowledge. It’s smarter to know all this information before you go out so you can help someone else but most importantly, help yourself. Be confident within yourself and limit the risk.

look around for visual markers so you know where to position yourself each time you paddle back out. These markers could be houses, trees, streetlights, beach access poles or even a towel on the beach.

Once you are sitting out the back looking into shore, watch the waves from behind as they peal off. You can watch how it breaks and where you would ideally want to be positioned for your take off. Once you know where that is, look around for visual markers so you know where to position yourself each time you paddle back out. These markers could be houses, trees, streetlights, beach access poles or even a towel on the beach. This tip is ideal for big waves and tube riding. You need to have perfect positioning to make the wave.

Tip #3: When To Bail Your Board
When a big set comes and you can’t duck dive your board because of its size, length or any other reason, there is an unwritten edict to always try and protect the people behind you. If you see a wave coming that you can’t duck dive and there are people behind you, try to paddle away from them and into a better position. This will ensure another surfer won’t receive a board to the head. Ideally, if you had to bail the board, try keeping it as close to you as possible. You may even try an eskimo roll by holding onto the rails, and rolling with your board upside-down while the wave crashes over you. Sometimes it’s really helpful to tell people near you ‘’ I can’t duck dive this thing, so watch out’’. This way you give more experienced paddlers a chance to get away from you.

I was taught by some of the world’s best free divers that doing nothing actually pays off when you are getting smashed and spun around in turbulent white wash. The less you do, the better it is.

I was taught by some of the world’s best free divers that doing nothing actually pays off when you are getting smashed and spun around in turbulent white wash. The less you do, the better it is.

© 2014 - NealStudios - Mike Neal

Tip #4: Less Is Best: How to stay underwater for longer.
Conserving energy is top priority while out in the water in any condition. I was taught by some of the world’s best free divers that doing nothing actually pays off when you are getting smashed and spun around in turbulent white wash. The less you do, the better it is. Let me explain. The key is to save the oxygen in your body, however the most natural reaction is to kick and fight against the wave which will burn up a lot of oxygen and energy. The best thing to do is try to switch off, stay calm and minimise any body movements until the wave passes over.

The biggest thing to minimise is your leg movement. Your leg muscles are the largest muscles in your body that carry the most blood, which hold oxygen.

The biggest thing to minimise is your leg movement. Your leg muscles are the largest muscles in your body that carry the most blood, which hold oxygen. Now you know this, it’s important to save your biggest asset when you can. It’s easier said than done but by using steady consistent strokes rather than frantic and erratic movements, you will conserve more oxygen and reach the surface feeling a lot more relaxed. This will come in handy especially if there are multiple waves coming through and you are in the middle of all the action.

Tip #10: Training For Big Waves