by steven watts December 12, 2016

Dalton Smith from NPI Productions talking to you about 3 common Bodysurfing Breaks and How To Have Fun At Each One.

We're gonna be talking about paddling out on your Slyde Handboard at three different kinds of breaks. We're going to do beach breaks, reef breaks and in either a pier or an inlet.

Stop 1 Beach Break How to Paddle Out:

We're here in Indialantic and it's mostly all beach breaks.  What that means is it's sandy. A sand bottom, breaks pretty close to the beach into really shallow water.  It's pretty easy paddle out, since it's really close to shore and you're going to see a lot of barrels.

It's not necessarily the best learning spot for everybody, especially if it's a really big crunchy day. You might wanna go find something a little bit softer. So what we're gonna do is take you guys to each spot and show you how to properly approach paddling out. 

Today's pretty small, but you still don't want to get blasted by the first set that rolls through. We've got some little waves coming through right now. I might start to walk down to the water. Get in about knee deep water and wait for the last wave. Once the last wave comes through, start to make your way out. It's better to wait for the set come through before you go out instead of paddling through it.

Same thing applies to the other breaks as well, wait for the white water rolling through. If you look behind this white water, and there's no waves behind it, it's a good time to paddle out.

Preparation for a Beach Break:

When I get up to the water, I'm gonna put my fins on when I'm right by the water and I'm gonna walk backwards so I'm not tripping on my fins. Watch our old videosto see all the different tips about not falling with your fins. And then honestly, this is the easiest place in the world to paddle out,  just 30 feet off the beach.

Once you get in the water and you're in waist deep water, start to swim and you're out there.  For anyone that missed our duck dive section, basically going under a wave is a duck dive. I don't know, apparently ducks dive under waves somewhere. So when you're sitting out in the lineup at a beach break, you're more than likely going to have a very big steep pitchy wave. It's not gonna exactly be the most friendly thing in the world.  

Pay attention to the swell size and then if you're unsure ask some people in that area you know, what the bottom look like, is this beach breaks, is this a reef break, and go from there.

That being said, on small days, beach breaks are probably your best bet as a learner. I say that because a reef break, you can hit the bottom and get cut. A pier or an inlet same thing. You can kinda get yourself sucked under it. And there's all these other things you have to be aware of.  

If you are learning to bodysurf, I would recommend starting at a beach break on a small day.  You have to play it by ear whenever you're at a different spot, because they all break differently.

Some things to remember about a beach break.
  • Usually close to shore. 
  • Usually very shallow. 
  • Nine out of 10 times it's gonna have a sand bottom which is a good thing because it is safer than rock or reef. 
  • You're gonna see some big old crunchy barrels.
Stop 2 a Pier Break How To Paddle Out:

Alright guys we just drove from the Indialantic Beach up to the Cocoa Beach pier.
This is basically kinda like a beach break, because it's got sand bottom and it's pretty close to the beach. But the pier affects the shape of the wave a lot. So that can be a good thing or could be a bad thing.

When it gets really big, a lot of people will go to piers. And the reasoning is because that pier is gonna act as a barrier that will break the wave apart. When it's big, there's this thing called the conveyor belt. The conveyor belt basically is when the waters rushing back out. It's a really easy way for you to get out quickly, but it's also kind of dangerous and scary. If people get caught in that and they're not ready for it, it's, a little bit nerve-wracking to have you just ripped out past the pier. 

Today is relatively small and we're just going to go...I think either on the south side of the pier or maybe end up in the north side. It depends on what the waves look like. But we're gonna gauge how far out it is and we're gonna look around. Another thing to keep in mind is that piers are a house basically for fish, sharks, stingrays, you name it, so be careful.

Preparation for a Pier Break:

Darg your feet when you're walking and just be observant and see what else is out in the water with you. When you're bodysurfing at a pier or an inlet, you want to be really cautious about how close you're actually getting to that structure.  If I'm bodysurfing on the south side of the pier and I go left away from the pier, you know, that will put me in a position where I'm not gonna hit it. But if I go right and I'm going into the pier, I'll eventually kinda stop or I'm going to slam in the pier and it's covered in barnacles and you can get seriously hurt.

You need to be careful and...I've never personally seen anybody shoot the pier body bodysurfing, but it may be possible.  To shoot the pier, literally means to ride a wave through the pier, so definitely don't try that unless you're super confident and I would say an advanced rider.

Today I'm going to ride the Bula again, same board that we were riding in the beach break video.  When you're sitting next to the pier depending on the day, there can be a drift. Either to the north or south, whatever. If the water is moving in the direction of that pier, you need to be careful. Because if you're, you know, basically downwind of the pier, it'll blow you into it eventually. So you need to be able to say, yes I can catch a wave in or get out of the way or go past the pier.

Whatever you need to do to not get stuck in the pier. Because getting caught in the middle of those pilings during a big swell, it's seriously scary. So be aware of that, be aware of the water, the animals, fishermen especially. These guys that are casting lines in right next to the pier. With all these different factors play a role when you're at either an inlet or a pier or a jetty or what have you. I would say that you're gonna have usually more people when you go inlets or piers. Cocoa Beach pier is like one of the most crowded spots there is in this area.   Be aware of all these things and you know, just kind of look around when you're doing stuff and you'll have fun. 

Another thing to remember at piers or inlets or jetties, whatever is that they can have different rules for how close you can be to the pier. Some don't allow you to be within you know 100 feet of the pier. Some only allow you to bodysurf or surf or swim on one side of the pier. So look for signs, be aware and don't get yourself in the way of anybody else that is doing what they should be doing. You know if there's a fish side of the pier and you paddle out, you're liable to get hooked or hit by a wave. Keeping all these things in mind, piers can be super fun. 

Stop 3 Reef/Rock Breaks How To Paddle Out:

Final stop reef/rock breaks. We're at the Radisson here in Satellite Beach and it's absolutely dumping behind me on the beach. We've got a big swell and it basically is gnarly as it gets here on the shore.  I'm actually predicting that the rock is gonna be buried for the most part. That's something you wanna keep in mind. If you go somewhere and you don't think there's rocks, it might change, the sand could move or vice versa.

When you show up here, the rocks are sticking up out of the water, but today I have a feeling when we get out there, a lot of it's gonna be buried. We're gonna have pretty much the same approach that we always do. Get our fins, get our board, slowly walk down to the shore. We're gonna be a little bit more observant when we're paddling out. We gonna look to the north, look to the south. We're gonna see if we have any rocks sticking out.

Preparation for a Reef Break:

We'll look for boils. Boils are basically bubbles of air being released from underneath the rock. And it's a little bit confusing, because sometimes a big wave can barrel and capture air and let it up and it looks like a boil. But if you see it over and over in the same spot you got a rock right there. You need to be aware that, that's going to be something that you could potentially hit while you're out there. 

Let's say we've looked up and down the beach, we do or don't see rocks. If we do, let's say they're, you know, down the beach. We feel like, okay this is a good place to paddle out. We're gonna get our fins, slowly walk down to the shoreline and then we're making our way out, slow, take it easy, feel with your feet, step out and feel before you commit to a step. Because the worst thing in the world is when you step and you follow through and there's a rock there and it knocks you down. You get hit by a wave. I'm telling you, go to Kookslamsor Kook of the day on Instagram, you guys will see exactly what I'm talking about. You don't want to make those pages.

At this point, let's say I'm out there. I'm like waist deep and the waves are breaking in front of me and I've got rocks underneath my feet. I'm gonna go slowly. I'm gonna pay attention to where the waves are breaking in relation where I'm at. You do not wanna be on a super shallow rock and have a wave break on you. 

Timing The Waves:

You need to time it with the set. And that applies to anywhere, but here is really important. Watch the waves and wait for that break in the waves. When you've got an opening, go,  make it quick. But don't just dive in and take half of your chest off on the rocks. You need to make sure that when you keep stepping, you're not gonna have a staircase in front of you. What I mean by that is it's not necessarily a flat rock all the way through. Sometimes there's a rock and you have to step up onto another rock and then up onto another rock. In some cases, you're neck deep, you take two steps forward and your ankle deep.  

You need to really play it by ear for each spot,  but more importantly you need to play it by ear for each swell and each session. Because when we get a big swell coming through, the sand is not gonna be the same. Nothing is the same out here,  and it changes every single swell.

There's places that you can surf or bodysurf and there are rocks, and it's not gonna be as dangerous. But there's places that you don't have any business bodysurfing. If you look and you see rocks sticking up out of the water and the wave is breaking right there, it's probably a horrible idea if you were to try to catch wave there. Be aware, be smart and make the decisions on where you paddle out based on what you see. Show up at your reef break and it looks just out of control, there's rocks sticking up, go down to the beach break, find yourself somewhere that's a little bit safer.

With all that being said, reef breaks can be so fun. It can be a closer to shore like this where it dumps around the beach. Or it can break way outside, give you these beautiful a-frames, they could barrel, they could give you air sections. There's a million different ways that these waves break. But you always have to remember that underneath the water you've got rock and reef and a lot of stuff that can severely injure you if you hit it. So be careful, be safe.

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steven watts
steven watts

Growing up in South Africa, Steve spent his youth dreaming of far off places. After spending eight years extensively traveling to many of the great surf destinations of the world getting dengue fever, having a near death experience from a falling coconut in mexico, Surviving a 15 foot drop on a handboard on a Nias bomb, jumping from every rock he could find without adequate health insurance. and comprehensively debunking the myth there are no waves in Thailand, even if they are small. He decided it was time for a a degree. Steve Graduated from Central Saint Martins School of Art and Design in London with a degree in product design. He missed his graduation to go surfing in Californian, found a kindred spirit with Venice and never left


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