Video: Catching some waves at Saunton
There is a saying amongst surfers that the best surfer is the one having the most fun. Last week in Croyde, despite a period of high pressure which meant some fairly flat surf, I had heaps of fun catching waves and getting some really cool rides. I don’t profess to be the best surfer in terms of ability, but as far as the fun factor goes, I reckon I’m now a worthy contender
At the beginning of the year, I resolved to get myself a GoPro or similar action camera so that I could film myself surfing. After I had bought it, I wondered if it was just a gimmick but having watched the footage back, it’s made me realise that it’s a really useful tool for checking my technique and, of course, to see how much fun Im having!
As I watch the 45 minutes worth of footage back (don’t worry, you guys have only got about 1 minutes worth!), I am seeing someone who has progressed loads since this time last year; I’m riding my own custom board, I’m catching waves , I’m standing up and I’m having fun. But, when I study my technique, I see how sloppy my arms are when I paddle, how long I take to get to my feet, how flat sometimes my back is whilst in surfer stance and, the cardinal sin amongst proper surfers, using my knees to get to my feet. Frowned upon!
The fact is though, that if I want to progress out of the white water and into the amber nectar of green waves, I have got to ditch the knees approach and improve my paddling. When you are catching green waves, you have a lot less time to get to your feet (probably only a couple of seconds) and you need to increase speed to catch the wave. Watch any YouTube footage of pro surfers paddling for a wave and you will see a sudden burst of energy to get on the wave.
None of this a new revelation to me, yet I still insist on going to my knees. Why? Because I know that by doing so I can catch white water waves and get to my feet pretty much everytime now. I’m having fun and my current technique almost guarantees that and isn’t that what surfing should be about?
Yet I have a goal. My dream is to be able to come down in board size, duck dive, get out back, ride waves consistently, and be able to turn and pump for added speed. I also want to be confident in bigger surf.
To progress, Im going to have to take some steps backwards and start over with my technique. It probably means that my stand up ratio will plummet initially. I need to get out of the bad habits that I have developed and go back to the drawing board.
I have watched numerous YouTube videos on pop-up technique so now all I need to do is practise. The best place is obviously in the water but as Im landlocked, dry land will be a good place to start. Im working on the muscle memory principle – the more times you execute a motion the more muscle memory patterns you set. Practising on dry land though is not as forgiving as in the sea, and with my shoulder injury it’s not something Im going to be able to practise at the moment.
I need some help with a fitness programme that isn’t going to aggravate my shoulder further and get my surf fitness heading back in the right direction. Thanks to a plea for help on Twitter, I know just the guy who can help !