Looking up how to surf big waves on the Internet is an immediate red flag. Surfing large waves requires an immense amount of skill, courage and experience (things not found on the Internet). Still, the following tips should point anyone in the right direction of learning how to surf big waves.
- Surf a lot. Learning how to surf big waves is really just an extension of the greater surfing learning curve. In any sort of surf training, there is absolutely no substitute for water time. Pull into closeouts. Test your limits. Get in paddling shape. All of these will make the gradual transition to larger waves easier and more natural.
- Get in obscenely good physical shape. Even if you’ve read the stories about the Santa Cruz crew partying and dropping acid before surfing Mavericks, it is important to understand that everyone who surfs big waves is an expert at holding his or her breath. Cardio exercises are extremely important for the big wave athlete. Big wave surfers run, swim, do underwater laps, underwater rock running, and a whole host of other forms of cross-training to stay in shape for the big stuff.
- Get in good mental shape. Even if you know how to surf big waves; that is, even if you are physically prepared, you still need to be mentally prepared to deal with a 30 ft. wall of water imploding on your head. In short, panic equals death, and if you are not mentally capable of staying calm, you have no business in the water.
- Move. World-class big wave surfing only occurs in a handful of location. There is no way anyone is going to learn how to surf big waves by surfing the local beach breaks. All the big-wave guys have put in serious time in Hawaii and Northern California. Other big wave locations include South Africa, parts of Chile, parts of Mexico, select spots in Europe, as well as a few reefs in Australia, and the South Pacific.
- Get a jet ski. Then get a tow partner. Like it or not, tow surfing is a part of big wave surfing. A ski is necessary to get into some waves. In other instances, tow-ins are one of the best ways to train to surf big waves.
- Be out of your mind. This goes hand in hand with the mental preparation aspect. Some guys view big wave surfing as a science. For these guys, preparation is key to learning how to surf big waves. Others simply enjoy chucking themselves off fast moving open ocean cliffs. To each his own