This applies to all levels of surfing experience, as it is actually relatively common to feel unsatisfied with the surf you've just had when there appeared to be no reason why this should be. So now is a good time to think about how often you stop and take the time to watch the waves and conditions before surfing. Do you always check the conditions and tides every time before going out? Or do you watch people around you get a lot of waves and wonder why? These are important factors that need to be well considered to make your surf sessions more productive
It is a common misconception that the longer the surf the better the surf. But it is far too often that surfers pull up to the car park, get their wettie on, and charge straight out into the surf spot where everyone else is already surfing. I know for a fact that I would rather surf for an hour on good, uncrowded waves than for two hours on a wave that may be better but has a swarm of other surfers on it. Chances are that your actual time riding the wave will be the same if not more on the uncrowded spot. So by taking the time to sit and watch where the waves are breaking best and most consistently (while keeping in mind the tide and weather report), it will be much more likely that you are able to find a quality, uncrowded break and leave more satisfied than if you were competing for waves. That said, there are definite exceptions to this rule with many reef, bar, and point breaks having a quality of wave that is worth the extra wait to get that 15-20 seconds of glory.
So tide and weather forecasts are obviously very important factors to consider before selecting your surfing destination. By taking a little time to find and consider this information it will greatly increase your chance of getting the best possible surfing conditions. All over New Zealand different beaches and breaks work best at specific tides, wind and swell combinations so it is a good idea to match this information with the best surf location using a New Zealand Surfing guide. I recommend using www.surf.co.nz to source all the appropriate reports, maps, forecasts, with a link to the best surfing guide.
There are also strategies to employ in crowded conditions that will allow you to still have a respectable wave count. By watching the wave you can identify sections of faster breaking areas of the wave that other surfers often do not get past. This is often a great place to sit and pick the wave off when another surfer doesn't make it; but first be certain of this before taking off. When sitting on the outside where the wave first breaks it is important you match yourself up against a stationary land mark to make sure that when a set of waves come in you'll be in the money-shot spot. And always watch and read the ocean so the waves you paddle for are caught and you don't lose your spot in the line up.
Be patient. That pie will taste even better afterwards.
The key thing to remember to get the most out of every surf is to be patient. Take the time to learn about the conditions and surroundings, watch the waves first before paddling out, and take the time to make sure you are in the best take off position on the beach.
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