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Sunday, January 12, 2014

How to Survive a Big Wave Wipeout | 3 Tips for Surfers

Everyone will suffer several wipeouts.  It is part of paying your dues to surf.  Some wipeouts will be horrific and others will be funny bordering on silly.  In fact, the wipeout factor is the reason most veteran surfers love to take out newbies.  Rookie wipeouts provide some serious comic relief.  

All kidding aside,  before you unstrap your board from your car surf rack, you need to understand that surviving big wave wipeouts is a little bit different than managing medium to small wave wipeouts.  

3 thing you must remember to survive a big wave wipeout:

  1. Don’t panic
  2. Hold your breath
  3. Know where the channels are so you can swim or paddle out of the impact zone.  

wipeout view from below

1.    Don’t Panic

Panicking is a sudden sensation of fear.  In surfing  this is caused by the  tumbling and churning of being held underwater by a wave.  Being in a state of panic causes a person to go into a flight or fight mode which prevents one from thinking logically or reasonably.  Remaining calm during a wipeout allows you to stay mentally prepared for the psychological battle that is a wipeout.  

2.    Hold Your Breath  

This might seem a little too basic and obvious, but holding your breath is more a mental ability than a physical one.

Reef holding his breath
The average person can hold their breath comfortably for 30 seconds.  At 45 seconds to a minute, things get uncomfortable.  However, most people can hold their breath for about a 1:15-1:45.  Most people will panic at 45 seconds, but maintaining your mental focus will get you to the 1:15 mark and beyond that you will need to resurface after taking a big wave (or two) on the head.

3.    Know Where Channels Are So You Can Swim or Paddle Out of the Impact Zone.  

Using channels will help you get out of the path of the wave energy.  Big waves come with big energy.  Knowing where the channels are and how to use them is critical to surviving big-wave surfing.  

Remember surfing is not only a physical sport but a mental one as well.  Staying calm is essential to not only a good performance but to surviving big-wave surfing.  

Where was your most memorable wipeout?