I've spent most of my life surfing beach breaks, and to be honest, I'm hitting a point where I'm getting a bit tired of some of the downfalls:
Most days, however, I don't have time to drive up to the nearest point, reef or rock break, and so a quick session at a nearby beach will have to suffice. So I thought I'd compile a list of ways to make the most out of your less-than-perfect beach break.
Closeouts are my biggest enemy in surfing. I mean, how are you supposed to get any better at maneuvers when the wave is over half-a-second after you stand up? The bright side is, if you're used to managing corners on closeouts, should you ever approach a finely crafted wave, you will be in excellent standing to shred.
Some tips I've found are to stand up a bit earlier than you think you should, and also pay a lot of attention to the spot where you catch the wave. Ten yards can be the difference between a long corner or a dump right in your face.
It was a nice wave...for a second. (Photo courtsey of Brian Esquivel)
Backwash is when the angle of the beach is so steep that the water gains momentum on its way back to the ocean, creating a little mini-wave that can become quite the speed bump. Many times I've been paddling into a wave when one of these hits, halting my progress. I've also been riding and encountered one of these, which is fun when it launches you in the air, but again, ruins your wave.
The only tip I have is to find the fun in this - and sometimes it is fun! If you're riding a wave and get slapped in the face by Triton's palm...laugh. You've been humbled. It can also be fun to watch this happen to one of your friends!
Dredging can absolutely ruin a spot. This is when they suck sand from under the water just off the beach, and move it up to the beach surface, "renourishing" it. There's a whole host of bad things dredging can do, one of which is completely change your surf spot!The only good thing about dredging is that it sometimes forces you to find a new break that you otherwise may not have explored. I suppose it also keeps your beach from completely eroding away; but if the beach got smaller, it would mean fewer crowds!Parking and crowds are not unique to beach breaks, but definitely more common in my experience. Sometimes the beaches that make good waves aren't accessible or attractive to the typical beach goer, which is awesome for us! However, as I mentioned earlier, circumstances may force you to a nearby, familiar and/or popular spot, resulting in a $10 parking fee and 30 minute line waiting for an open space.
You should see the parking lot for this beach...
My advice here? Get a convertible, some good music and embrace patience. Another tip is to talk to other surfers -- I've had fellow riders who like to fight the system (!) give me their paid-parking slip as they left the beach. It's also a personal passion of mine to find and share free parking, so if you're in the Los Angeles area and want some tips, give me a shout!
I've said it before: it's always good to get out on the water. Beach break or not, make the most of your circumstances and have fun surfing!