Every surfer dreams about riding big waves. Just the thought of roaring down a 20-foot massive mountain of water is enough to make any surfer mad with sheer excitement. But unfortunately, riding big waves—as any surfer can tell you—is not an easy feat. It takes tremendous skill and dedication, as well as years of intense training. It also doesn’t hurt to be a tad bit insane (kind of a given, right?), but that’s a separate issue entirely.
Anyway, big wave charger Kohl Christensen offered some helpful advice for all aspiring big wave surfers in the latest issue of Surfer. Here’s what he had to say:
The night before a big swell there’s a lot of anxiety building up inside me. The anxiety I get from thinking about the surf is always worse than actually seeing it first hand. Well, almost always. Everyone gets nervous. That’s just part of it. The trick is keeping that emotion in check and turning it into focus.
Surfing big waves isn’t for everyone and that’s okay. But I’d definitely say that there’s a connection or thread between all of us. Big-wave surfing requires you to work, train, and really want it. But at the end of the day, it’s something you’re almost born with. There’s something in you that differentiates you from the rest of the crew. You either have it or you don’t. But a lot of the time, you’re really not gonna know if you have it or not until you get close to it.
What kind of board you’re riding in big surf really depends on the wave. If you want to use Waimea as an example, I normally ride a 10’0″ out there when it gets to be about 20 feet. You really want to ride a board with a lot of float. Nothing too thin. Most of all, you want to be able to catch the wave early.
It feels like you’re paddling down a hill. You’ll always want to take two or three extra strokes to get into the wave. That’s crucial. There’s gonna be a lot of water, and sometimes a lot of wind, so you want to make sure you’re really in the wave before you stand up. Some days, the waves themselves will generate wind. Basically, when you feel like you’re paddling into the wave and you’re ready to stand up, keep paddling. It’s something everyone figures out the hard way.
It’s all about drawing your line early. As soon as you stand up, you want to pick your line. That’s pretty crucial. Unless you’re Ross Williams or Slater, you’re not going to be looking to get barreled. So find your line early. And most of all, don’t lean too far forward. You really don’t want to pearl on a 20-footer.
If you’d like to read the rest, check out this link: http://www.surfermag.com/blogs/how-to-paddle-into-big-surf-with-kohl-christensen/