How To Catch An Unbroken Wave Video, Part 1

How To Surf: The Cutback Video
January 29, 2019

How To Catch An Unbroken Wave Video, Part 1

Our core mission at Pura Vida Adventures is to give every single client a life-changing experience.  We’re always getting messages from past clients telling us about how they now go surfing every weekend, or how surfing inspired them to change jobs, or how the sport gave them a new lease of confidence in themselves.  We believe in the power of surfing, which is becoming especially important in today’s modern, stress-filled lifestyles.  When you surf you have to be completely in the moment; there’s no space to think about your mortgage, or your boss, or your loser ex-partner.

One of the favorite parts of our job is getting students to surf their first unbroken waves.  Beginner students all start out in the same way – on a big board in the whitewater at chest depth.  But once you’ve got a solid pop up, can paddle onto your own whitewater waves, do basic turns and turtle roll – then we encourage students to try paddling out and catching the green, unbroken waves.  Santa Teresa has some great breaks for your first time in the lineup, particularly the south end of Playa Carmen, Cabuya, Mar Azul and Playa Hermosa.  In this video Surf Instructor Helen explains the differences between catching whitewater and unbroken waves…

So it’s easy really, all you have to do is be like Goldilocks and Arnold Schwarzenegger at the same time.  Here’s a recap of the main points from the video:

  1. The key thing is positioning, which means being in the right place at the right time.  Not too steep, not too flat; like Goldilocks it needs to be just right.  Aim to catch the wave and pop up when the wave face is at a 45 degree angle.  The worst case scenario is when you try to catch a wave which is too steep.
  2. Be observant and watch what is happening around you.  Watch the good surfers who are catching lots of waves, look at how they’re positioning themselves and how they’re paddling.
  3. Use landmarks.  When you surf you should look like you have a nervous tick of always looking over your shoulder.  Don’t just surf willy nilly up and down the beach.  Find a good spot, line it up with a landmark and stay in that area.

At our Costa Rican surf and yoga retreat we require students to master the skills in the whitewater first, before we paddle people out to the unbroken waves.  However if you have a pretty good fitness level then you can expect to be surfing unbroken waves by the end of the camp, even if you’ve never touched a surfboard before that week.  The caveat is the surf conditions have to be appropriate; you want mellow, small, soft waves for your first time out there.  Here’s a checklist of the skills we need to see before students can join the outside group:

  1. consistent and satisfactory pop up
  2. able to paddle and catch whitewater waves without assistance
  3. completed paddle school and demonstrated ability to do the turtle roll and the flying push up
  4. functional stance
  5. able to do basic turns left and right
  6. demonstrated reasonable stamina
  7. attended our ‘surf etiquette’ whiteboard theory lesson

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