Together with our head surf coach, pro surfer Alan Stokes and a select few of Britain's best surfers, sat down with Wavelength Surfing Magazine to discuss the best techniques to getting your first barrel.
The most important point, which was echoed throughout the guys’ advice was pick the right spot on the right day. “There’s no point paddling out with a mindset that your going to get barrelled if there just aren’t any on offer.” says Alan Stokes. “Even if it’s howling offshore, six foot and clean and looks a little hollow, if you’re in the UK the chances of you finding a tube, let alone trying to stuff yourself inside one, are pretty slim to say the least.”
Alan Stokes squeezes into a very English beach break barrel. Photo Luke Gartside
“The best place to find hollow beach break waves are where a left or right wedge forms. A wedge is a combination of ocean swell and the subsequent refraction of the last wave. When both waves meet they form an apex, the power and speed of the wave are increased, allowing the lip of the wave to throw much further, creating a hollow barreling wave.”
“Most beaches that have a good left or right wedge will usually have a large headland that continues to refract incoming swell lines across the beach. If the headland still refracts waves across the beach at low tide, this could be a great sign that there are some hollow wedges to be found. Your chances of getting barrelled anywhere are also greatly increased in offshore winds. In the UK the stronger the offshore the better.”
The further behind the apex or wedging part of the wave the easier it will be to set your rail get balanced and get tubed, once you are on your feet.
Once you’ve found the spot, positioning yourself in the line up is also super important says Stokesy. “The best way to learn about a break is to spend some time just watching and studying how waves break and how water moves throughout the changing tide.
“Once you have pinpointed where the hollow waves are breaking consistently and at what tide, you can paddle out and work out the perfect place to position yourself in the lineup. Once you’ve found the spot, work out a reference for your position. Anything that allows you to know where you are in comparison to the breaking waves that you want to surf”
Alan Stokes text book technique in Indonesia. Filmed by Rediscover Media
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