It’s easy to become desensitized to big wave surfing with all of the heavy-water stunts that the best in the world is performing these days, and the nonstop media coverage documenting every historic ride. It might often feel that if you aren’t charging 50-foot Peahi, you aren’t charging at all these days.
However, we all surf at different levels, and big waves and the fear that goes along with them are mostly relative. While it may take a gigantic nerve to get Aaron Gold’s pulse-pounding, a head-high wave might feel huge to a beginning surfer who has only been at it for a few months.
It is possible to improve your game by getting more adept at overcoming your large wave concerns, regardless of your surfing skill or what “big” waves mean to you. Here are some pointers on how to feel more at ease in choppy water.
Admit that you are afraid: While there are a few lunatics out there who aren’t terrified of anything, the majority of the finest big wave surfers admit that they are afraid at times and that this is a positive thing. We are frequently unaware of the potential implications of our acts when we are not afraid. If this is the case, we are more likely to push ourselves too hard and injure ourselves (or worse). Fear is, after all, what gives us that rush of adrenaline when we surf bigger waves than we’re used to or land a tricky drop. If you embrace your fear, you’ll be able to use it to your advantage rather than against yourself.
Count while you are underwater: The fear of drowning is one of the most common causes of panic while surfing. Being held underwater for more than 10 to 15 seconds can be terrifying, but in reality, very few hold-downs stay that long. A pounding that lasts more than 20 seconds is extremely unusual unless it’s a two-wave hold down, which only happens when the waves are true XL+ (25+ feet on the face)—and even then, they’re extremely rare. You’ll feel much more confident riding larger waves once you know your hold downs are never more than 10 to 20 seconds.
Think logically about your fear: Examine your fear and determine whether it is justified. If you’re in serious danger, this might be a stretch you don’t want to go. If the threat is more in your thoughts than in reality, it’s time to start reducing it and being more at ease.
Train: Surfers used to not train, but if you’re serious about big waves and don’t practice yoga, cardio, or other cross-training, you’re deceiving yourself. Big wave surfers, though, aren’t the only ones who can profit from training. Keep in mind that “large” is a relative term.
Know your ability: Being conscious of your physical ability is another aspect of confronting your fears in the ocean. It’s one thing to push yourself to go bigger when you have the necessary competence, but it’s quite another to attempt to charge when you lack basic surfing abilities. The former is a fantastic method to advance, while the latter is a fantastic way to get hurt. Look around at others who are your level of surfer and note the size of the waves they are riding. You can do it, too, if they can.
Have the right equipment: As we previously discussed, fear is frequently an emotional reaction that is exaggerated—but there are sometimes situations that do pose a genuine threat to your safety and are frightening for valid reasons. There is a variety of equipment you can employ to help secure your safety whether riding massive outer reefs or ultra-shallow slabs (and thereby lessen the fear factor). In shallow barrels, helmets are a good idea, while in XL+ waves, flotation vests, the right boards, and leashes, and even a safety crew on a ski can assist keep you safe.
So these were some of effective the tips that you can follow to face your fears in bigger waves.