So you have mastered the fine art of jumping to your feet and wiping out all in the white water! Sooner or later the temptation of surfing unbroken waves or “green” waves gets too much, and you are going to have to learn how to paddle out past the white water.
Unless you are surfing a spot with a good channel (deep water trench) or you are surfing a point where you can paddle out around the waves instead of through it, paddling out will be an issue. Once the surf starts to get bigger than a couple of feet , strap on your paddling muscles and listen up because it’s not about how fast you can paddle as much as how well you deal with the oncoming surf.
Whenever possible, you will want to lift up your board and go over the incoming wave or dive down to go under the white water. The bad news is that because you are a beginner you are probably on a bigger board in order to be able surf and bigger boards don’t dive well. So, you are going to be stuck on the surface where all of the turbulence is.
When encountering an approaching wave, try to go straight into it. Your approach should be as perpendicular as possible theless directly the wave hits you the more ground you will lose. If you are able to maintain some of your momentum, you will be able to get going again right away. If you do get hit hard and spin out, you will be starting off from scratch again and you will be making very little progress. Once again it is not how fast you can paddle, it’s how well you deal with the onrushing and powerful bands of energy coming at you.
Walk out as far as possible, jumping over the waves while holding on tight to your board. Once you are out to chest deep wait for a calm period, or a lull before you start your paddle out. Be certain to position your body properly and begin stroking out. Until you encounter the bigger waves stay prone on your board. When you come to a small whitewater wave, simply lift your upper body up by grabbing the rails of your surfboard at the ribcage and lift your head and shoulders above the white stuff. As your body lifts above the energy, you will be sending your board underneath the energy. This method works just fine until you can no longer go over them anymore.
Bigger waves will also be more powerful and all of that energy is up on the surface where you are, so you have to go under to get out. How far down you can go depends on how much foam you are on and how strong you are. But here is the trick, just before the wave is going to slam you, you must pull yourself forward to the front of the board, grab the nose tightly with both hands and send the nose down as deep as you can. At the same time, wrap your legs around the middle of the board and hang on tight. Expect to be dragged under water for a couple of seconds.
When you surface, scoot back into paddling position and get moving unless more waves are going to break in front of you. If they are, the best thing to do is to get off of your surfboard and hold on to the nose while the set does its thing. By getting off of your board, you will not lose as much ground and you will be better rested for your next assault through the raging surf.
If you find that the waves are more powerful than you thought and you are not in total control of your surfboard then don’t try to go all of the way out! Stay inside and work on your skills and get stronger for the next swell. It will take years of practice before you will be able to paddle out and surf BIG waves anyway but by improving your paddling skills your surfing will be far more enjoyable and worthwhile.