Catching & riding green waves

Catching unbroken waves is one of the biggest challenges as a beginning surfer.

It requires practise, persistence and an understanding of how waves break. Green waves are far less turbulent and much easier to surf than white water so once you master the take off, your progress and confidence will skyrocket as you enjoy the thrill of surfing the wave face.

Some of the best introductory green waves are found in among the shallows. So to begin with you can try staying close to the white water to catch the small green waves coming through. That way you can just continue focusing on having fun in your own little space and you don’t not have to worry about getting your board out the back and the protocol involved with surfing the main break.

If the waves are small and you feel comfortable, then head out to where the green waves are breaking. Position yourself about 5 meters out past the breaking green waves to give you space to paddle into them. There is an art in predicting when and where an oncoming wave is going to break and this takes time.

A note about etiquette

If you are heading out to the green waves, it is important that you understand the etiquette that comes with being out the back to ensure the enjoyment and safety of everyone in the water. The Etiquette module covers everything you need to know. Follow the rules and you will have a great time venturing out beyond the white water into the world of unbroken waves.

How to Catch a Green Wave


-Paddle powerfully
– Look over you shoulder to see what the wave is doing
– When you’re certain you’ve caught the wave stop paddling and
– Powerfully press into your hands
– Do your pop up
– Release your hands
– Aim to be on your feet before you drop below the top 1/2 of the wave


-Turn your board to face the beach. You want to paddle with long, strong, deep paddle strokes to match the speed of the wave
– As you are paddling, glance over your shoulder to gauge whether you need to paddle more or less according to how close the wave is
– If the wave suddenly ramps up and becomes too steep, let it pass and wait for another swell bump to paddle into
– When you feel your tail lifting and you are gliding with the wave, do 2 more paddle strokes
– During this point of entering the wave you may need a boost of forward momentum, in which case, drop your head and chin as you paddle (see video) The added 20kg of your head will assist you into the wave
– Powerfully press into your hands, glide for a split second to establish stability and do your pop up
– Aim to get to your feet and release your hands before you are half way down the wave face
– If during your paddle in you need to slow down, do the opposite and arch your back and lift your shoulders and head further back while you glide with your hands pressed onto the deck. This will allow a more stable entry into the wave

These variations to weight placement during a paddle in will become more instinctive. Trust that in time and with practise you will become very attuned to what you need to do in order to enter into a variety of green waves with the right amount of speed.

The following video is a detailed lesson on catching and riding green waves