The Anatomy Of A Wrap
Step 1: The first step to catching a good wave is always to choose a good wave. Besides choosing a good wave you must first determine if the wave is “reachable”. If you can’t get to the wave, then you can’t ride it! Obviously waves that break closer to shore are easier to get to, but they can also be harder to ride. Look at the water in front of the wave that you want to ride. Ideally, this water should be moving towards the beach (usually just after another wave has broken). If this water is moving toward the beach at 5 mph and you run at 10 mph then the relative speed between your board and the water will be 15 mph and you will be able to float out to the wave. Likewise, if the water is moving out toward the ocean at 5 mph and you run at 10 mph then your relative speed will be 5 mph and you will sink pretty quickly. Choosing the right wave is one of the most difficult and important things in skimboarding.
Step 2: Getting on your board quick is important because it opens up a lot of possibilities in which waves you can reach. By getting on the board quicker you can run for waves where there is only a split second for you to get on the board. The best way to get on the board is usually to “walk on to it”. Basically, right after dropping the board you put your back foot down and then swing your front foot on, as if you were continuing to run down the beach. (see picture).
Step 3: You want to make as smooth a transition to the water as possible to avoid losing any speed. This can be accomplished by putting more weight on the back foot to lift the nose right when you get to the water. This is to avoid plowing through the water. Be careful however to center your weight over the board after you get onto the water. Otherwise you may lose speed by standing too far on the back.
Step 4: As you approach the wave you want to start your turn by bending your knees and applying more weight to the “back-inside” rail of the board (see picture). Starting your turn early burns a little speed but allows you to more easily make a complete turn. Some times it can be helpful to plant your hand in the water and use it as a pivot point to turn around.
Step 5: Hopefully you still have enough speed to turn off the wave when you finally get to it. If not, there is little that you can do except walk back up the beach and try again. If you do have enough speed though, the fun can really begin. Your turn that you should have already started should end in a snap near the top of the wave. Ideally you want to make a gradual turn up the face of the wave and then right when you get to the top, throw your back foot out to snap off the top off the wave and start heading back towards the shore. This can be very difficult to master. Each wave has a certain time when it is best to turn off of. Hopefully you timed your run so that you arrived at the right time to turn off of the wave. Usually the best time to snap off the top of the wave is right before the wave breaks. This is because the wave is moving towards the shore fastest at this point so when you really dig in your rail, you will actually change directions, rather than just sink. The easiest way to make this turn is to put a lot of weight on the back foot and utilize the rail near the tail of the board for the turn. Unfortunately this method also burns a lot of speed. The more advanced way to make the turn is to utilize more of the rail on the sides of the board. This burns less speed, but is also harder to do.
Step 6: After you have completely changed directions you will (hopefully!) be heading back down the face of the wave. Usually it is best to continue turning so that you can actually ride the wave rather than just get pushed back to the shore. As you rocket down the face of the wave, keep turning a little so that you ride parallel to the shoreline, thereby going faster and faster.
Step 7: As you near the sand again, be careful to keep your nose up far enough so that you don’t dig into it. Hopefully you will be moving pretty fast at this point and it could be pretty painful to do a face-plant right on the sand.
Step 8: Put a big smile on your face and go get another one…