Reading a wave accurately can be considered an art and is an important part of being able to surf well. As you progress in your surfing, your capacity to read waves will increase and it comes by spending loads of hours in the ocean in all different conditions.
Here are the basics of the anatomy of surf waves to help you answer questions like: How can I know when a wave will break? If it will be a right or left wave? Where should I position myself in the lineup?
PARTS OF A WAVE
To read a wave properly, you have to be able to identify the different parts of a wave. This will also be helpful for you to communicate with other surfers and to understand your surf coach when you’re in the water.
Peak: The highest point on a wave and the first part that breaks.
Lip: The top part of the wave that pitches up and breaks first. In the lip we find most of the wave’s power.
Shoulder/face of the wave: the part of the wave that has yet to be broken, the area that surfers ride.
Curl: located in the wave’s shoulder, is the concave part and very steep. This is where advanced surfers do the high-performance manoeuvres or tricks.
Tube: In some cases, the wave forms a cylinder when it breaks. Commonly known as the ultimate surfing manoeuvre, experienced surfers are able to ride inside the tube of a wave. Also known as barrel.
Impact zone: This is the spot where the lip crashes down on the flat water as the wave breaks. Always avoid getting caught in the impact zone when you’re sitting or paddling back out.
White water: Can be safely ridden as a beginner surfer, and appears after the wave has broken allowing you to travel back to shore in a straight line.
Stay tuned for part two!