Check out these pictures of bodysurfers ducking under waves.

I grew up body surfing and boogie boarding in Southern California.  Riding waves is exhilarating and its the #1 reason you are there but there’s one other unforgettable experience that comes with it and that’s ducking under a passing wave.

A crashing wave is an awesomely powerful thing.  So its such an incredible feeling of freedom that with just a little agility and perfect timing you can get yourself down below a 1 or 2 foot protective layer of water where all of that massive power can only just roll over you at most gently rocking you forward and back.  And then you pop right back up to the surface to get ready for the next one.

With bodysurfing this is everything:  ducking under waves until you are in position to catch just the right one.  With boogie boarding there’s a little bit of paddling in between but the board is still small and light enough that when necessary you can get under even the most threatening wave.

But for sure the hardest thing about surfing is that this manoeuver is no longer available to you.  For one thing you would be putting others in danger if you bail off the board and let the wave throw it around.  But anyway the board is so bulky that the wave is going to drag you along with it.

Forget about learning to ride a wave.  That’s as easy as anything else when you can get enough repetitions in.  The bloody hard thing about surfing is that it can take months to get that many repetitions in because every time you fall you have to paddle back out through those waves.  Yeah there are still tricks (turtle roll, duck dive), but even getting good enough at those for them to be useful takes weeks. The first few weeks you are lucky to get into position for 1 or 2 shots per session at actually catching a wave.

Chullo chortle:  Kottke.

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