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July 26

11 Hard-Earned Tips To Catching Waves In Crowded Lineups

SURF

Surfing crowded lineups can be daunting, challenging, not to mention frustrating as hell.

Exacerbated when you’re not catching any waves that's for sure.

But what if there were a few sneaky tricks you could learn to catch more waves at these crowded surf spots, would that help?

If so read on, as we've got 11 little-known tips below that you're going to love.

But first...


WHAT ARE THE WORLDS  MOST CROWDED SURF SPOTS?

If you think your local break is crowded, check these out.

Three of the most crowded, hardest places to get waves on the planet:


SUPER BANK

The Super Bank, known for its mechanical waves peeling over the sand bottom point in the Gold Coast of Australia.

Warm, clear, blue water...

...with literally a thousand surfers hassling for waves in the lineup!

One of the hardest places to catch a wave on the planet.


PIPELINE

The worlds most famous wave is also one of the worlds most crowded waves too.

Compared to Snapper Rocks the crowd dwarfs in comparison, however what it lacks in sheer numbers it makes up for in density.

With one of the most dense, hectic lineups on the planet - filled with the worlds best surfers - getting a wave out here is virtually impossible.


TRESTLES

Lower Trestles, home to the most rippable wave on the planet.

Hidden away from sight in the national reserve of San Clemente, California, you'd be forgiven for thinking this out of the way spot would be free from the hoards.

In reality though, you couldn't be further from the truth.

The best wave in the whole of Los Angeles, Lower Trestles draws a crowd like no other.


11 TIPS TO GETTING MORE WAVES IN CROWDED SURF


TIP 1: HUNTER VS HUNTED

We do whole lessons on this in our courses, being the hunter - not the hunted.

What does it mean?

It means you’ve got to get busy, you’ve got to be proactive, you’ve got to be hunting waves down, repositioning yourself in the best spot to get waves.

Not just sitting there waiting (hoping) that waves come to you.

When surfing crowded waves nobody’s going to give you a wave for free, you’ve gotta get hustling and go get that thing for yourself.


TIP 2: SIT UNDER THE PACK

You’ll notice at all crowded lineups that there’ll be a pattern on where people will sit.

Right at the peak you’ll get a thick tight pack all jostling for position to get set waves when they come.

As you get further away from the peak (where the waves break less) the crowd will tend to thin out.

So you should just sit real wide where there’s less people right?

Wrong!

There’s a reason there’s not many people surfing there…

…because there’s no waves!

But here’s something to try instead.

There’s oftentimes a little spot slightly further in than the agro pack sitting right on the peak.

This sneaky little spot can be great as smaller set waves roll under the main pack unridden ready for you to pounce.

Word of warning though, sitting in this spot means you might take a few set waves on the head from time to time, so you'll want to know how to duck dive well.

Gotta pay to play though right?


TIP 3: POP AND CORK

We teach a technique that’s insane for catching waves in a crowded lineup, in fact, this one little known sneaky trick will likely double the amount of waves you catch.

We’ve built a free three part mini course that you can check out to learn how it’s done.

Click here if you want to learn more.


TIP 4: ON THE HALF TURN

When you’re surfing crowded lineups you’ve always got to be ready. Ready to swing onto waves in the blink of an eye.

To help with this always sit on the half turn ready to go, that way when an opportunity comes your way you’re ready to pounce.


TIP 5: WAIT FOR SOMEONE TO FALL

The ultimate crowded lineup scavenger will always be looking for signs that someone might fall.

Praying for it, wishing it, crossing their fingers that it happens.

Here’s what I mean.

When a surfer is riding along a wave don’t just assume that wave is lost, instead look at the surfer riding it:

  • Could they be too deep?
  •  Do they look unbalanced?
  • Are they trying to do a turn in the wrong place?
  • Is there someone in their way?

Run through all of these scenarios in your head and be on the half turn ready to turn and go should they fall off last minute.


TIP 6: BE AWARE WHEN IT’S YOUR TURN

Even in crowded lineups surf etiquette and the rules of surfing still apply (or at least they should), so be aware of whose around you, fight to hold your position and be ready to go when it’s your turn.

If it's your wave, put your head down and don't back down.


TIP 7: CHIN UP SHOULDERS BACK

Surfers are like hungry lions praying on the weak. 

A sniff of insecurity or fear, and that’s it, game over.

Even though it’s your wave, your turn, you’ll have a hungry pack around you trying to paddle for your wave and bully you off it.

Don’t let them.

Chin up, shoulders back. 

Be confident, be committed, and when it’s your wave just go!  


TIP 8: LINE UP CHESS

Everywhere you move in the lineup either increases, or decreases your chances of catching waves, no movement is neutral.

And tactical positioning, or what I like to call lineup chess is playing this game.

When you get real nerdy with it it’s like a complex calculation you’ve got running through your head at all times, assessing the lineup in real time to decipher where to sit.

  • Maybe you notice someone sitting too deep, paddling but missing the waves.
  • Perhaps you see a tight pack of surfers that compete for waves so hard that sometimes there’s a mix up and the waves go unridden.
  • Or how about a surfer that’s a great paddler, but falls on their take offs a lot.

Running through all the calculations in real time you improve your chances of being in the right place at the right time.

Whoop, more waves for you!


TIP 9: QUIT THE CHAT

We all love a good bit of banter out in the water - especially in crowded surf. 

That’s great and all, but don’t let your chat hold you back from turning and paddling for waves.

Here’s the thing, unlike on land where it’s rude to suddenly turn your back on someone mid conversation and leave, in surfing, this is totally fine.

You could be mid convo getting real deep and if a wave comes your way it’s totally cool to swing and go.

*Note to self, don’t do this on land 😬


TIP 10: GET GOOD AT TAKING OFF LATE

Surfing in a crowded spot you don’t have the time you would normally to see your wave, turn, paddle, cruise a bit, paddle a bit, then pop up and go.

Instead you’re more often than not dealt with less than ideal take-offs

So you’ve got to get good at taking off late on waves.


TIP 11: RESPECT THE DROP IN RULE

Even though the lineup is crowded as hell, and it feels like all the rules of surfing have gone out the window, don’t be one of those people.

Surfing etiquette and especially the drop in rule in surfing are so important.

They establish some sort of order amongst the chaos and keep people safe.

Don’t be a kook and ignore the drop in rule.


WRAPPING IT UP

With surfing getting more popular by the day, crowded surf spots are here to stay.

If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em right?

Anyway, take these tips on how to catch more waves in crazy crowded lineups with you and leave us a comment below letting us how you get on.

Yew!

Rowan 🤙

ROWAN CLIFFORD

Rowan is the nerd behind the scenes.  But when he's not knee-deep in code, you'll find him immersed in the crypto-world or sending it at his local beachie.

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  • I’m grateful I live somewhere off the beaten track so crowds are never an issue. Looking at those pictures I feel very lucky.

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