Catching White Water

When you’ve mastered paddling, getting yourself into waves and trying some pop ups are the obvious next steps.

This module isolates the skill of reading and catching white water. This is an important step to grasp in order to be able to get yourself onto moving waves and begin popping up.

Reading oncoming waves and knowing when they will break and when they will become that white water you’re looking for can take a bit of time. Take a moment to observe the conditions and position yourself in a spot where the waves have already broken and are rolling into the beach as white water.

The Phases of a Wave

Lying on your board, waiting for that oncoming white water to pick you up isn’t going to work. You need to be moving at roughly the same speed as the wave for it to pick you up so you are going to have to put that paddling practise to good use now.

How to catch white water

-Make sure the nose of your board is facing perpendicular to the beach (not on an angle)
– Begin to paddle well in advance to generate some speed
– Look over your shoulder while you paddle so that you can see the wave approaching
– Once you think you’ve caught the white water, turn your head to face the beach again and do 2 extra paddle strokes
– Press weight into your hands, straighten your arms and arch your back as you glide out in front of the wave
– Stay on your belly and enjoy the ride for as long as it lasts
– Head back out to your starting spot and repeat, repeat, repeat
– Stay riding on your belly for a few waves
– Before long you will feel ready to want to start popping up to your feet

This video demonstrates how to catch white water and then do a pop up once you’ve caught it

Common problems

Nose diving when you paddle into white water usually happens because you have too much weight at the front of your board, you are paddling in on an angle or you are paddling in when the wave is still breaking

Review your body positioning. Is the nose of your board sitting 5cm out of the water while your back is arched and your chest and shoulders are off the board? The Lying on Your Board Module will help you if you need to review your body positioning.

Push lots of weight into your hands and straighten your arms as soon as you know you have caught the wave, this will even out your body weight and you should be able to glide in this position for some time.

Not getting picked up by waves happens because you are not paddling hard/long enough into them, or your body weight is too far back on the board which is countering your forward momentum.

An extra 2 paddle strokes can make all the difference.

Do a quick review your body placement in the module Lying on Your Board and your paddling technique in the Paddling module. This will address any issues with your weight placement to provide the forward momentum required to catch the white water, but without nose diving.

This blog article is useful further reading if you find yourself continuously missing waves.