Where To Go To Improve Your Surfing

posted by / Magazine / July 9, 2014

Images for Surfing Magazine AUGUST  ISSUE 2014Nate Yeomans. Photo: Brent Bielmann

FROM DIETS AND FITNESS TO SPIRITUALITY, SELF-HELP IS THE FAD DE JOUR. Do you know The Secret? Do you cross-fit and talk about it or hot yoga and talk about it? Is “gluten- free” a real thing or just a fad for extremely fussy eat- ers? Which is all well and good, if that’s your thing. But why not improve the stuff in your life that really counts? Like working the kinks out of your bottom turn, standing upright in a backhand pit or even clutching onto a slob grab next time you try an air. How do you improve that? It’s less a question of how, and more a question of where. We’ve hand-selected nine summertime surf spots that are tailor-made for working on your turns, tubes and airs. Whether you’re a rookie or a lifelong surfer, there’s something in here for you. See, we’re starting to sound like a self-help mag already. The difference is, progress in this area of your life actually matters.

Conner Coffin. Photo: JimmicaneConner Coffin, turning.

Progress your turns:

Beginner: Las Flores, El Salvador
Cost: 2/4 (average: $2000)
Ideal size: 3-5 feet
Average crowd: 21-30 surfers

STAY AT: AST Punta Flores, $1,400 a week all-inclusive.
AS SEEN IN: Let’s Surf Seriously
WHY HERE? Las Flores is like a warm-water Rincon. Long, steep walls filter down a rock point, allowing you time to practice whatever you damn well please. But for now, let’s work on the basics. (Oh, and plan your trip around morning low tides.)
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Get on it early, as the wind turns at Las Flores by 11 a.m. But pace yourself — the wave is 100 yards long and the water is nearly 90 degrees.
GOAL: A good bottom turn because you’ve gotta crawl before you walk.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? At any pointbreak, your bottom turn is everything — it sets up the entire wave. Don’t double or triple pump; just lean toward the face, give it one smooth carve off the bottom third of the wave, and that’ll give you that push you need for a powerful following turn. Avoid turning from the flats below the trough, a mistake too many people consistently make.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Dillon Perillo: Las Flores is the perfect wave to learn to bottom turn. It’s long, not too fast, and has a nice, steep face from start to finish. Bottom turns are all about strength and timing, so having strong calves and quads is important. Remember, the bottom turn is actually the most powerful move in surfing.

Intermediate: Macaronis, Indonesia
Cost: 4/4 (average: $4000)
Ideal size: 4-5 feet
Average crowd: 31-40 surfers

STAY AT: Macaronis Resort, $1,200 a week all-inclusive (plus boat shuttles, minus flights/visa)
AS SEEN IN: Young Guns movies
WHY HERE? Maccas provides long,
mechanical, steep walls. It’s a good place to get comfortable over reef, too.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Take it slooowww. Don’t wreck your body jumping in the water without sunscreen and staying out for eight hours straight. It’s tempting, we know. But Macaronis is a well-oiled machine and likely ain’t changing much. It’s good all day, so eat. Hydrate. Pace yourself.
GOAL: Blow those fins out the back.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Maccas has a steep transition, making it the perfect place to learn to turn on (and above) the lip. Start your bottom turn in the trough of the wave and aim to meet the lip just beyond where it’s breaking. From there, extend your back leg and kick the tail above the lip. Try to keep your hips and shoulders parallel with your surfboard.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Dane Reynolds: The space on the face of the wave at Macaronis is more condensed than some lefts where you’d get way on the shoulder and do a carve. So commonly you’ll be working top- to-bottom and getting as vert in the lip as possible. You’re not linking turns as much, more moving straight up and down, getting that back foot on the lip and pushing as hard as you can once you’re there.

Advanced: Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa
Cost: 3/4 (average: $3000)
Ideal size: 6-10 feet
Average crowd: 31-40 surfers

STAY AT: African Perfection or Aloe Again Backpackers, $35 a night
AS SEEN IN: Highline
WHY HERE? Needs no introduction, but it’s the benchmark against which all other righthanders are measured. Groomed by howling offshores, Supertubes offers long walls with hollow sections, but it’s tougher than it looks.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Get up with the sun and eat a big ‘ol breakfast because if the swell is up, it’s your chance to be 13 again and put in a six to eight-hour session. Flawless J-Bay will make you do that.
GOAL: Link an entire wave and yes, you can grab a tube or two along the way.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Get ahead of yourself. Use every maneuver as a functional link to the next. J-Bay is a blank canvas on which to paint your first masterpiece.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Conner Coffin: Supertubes is all about your ability to connect maneuver to maneuver. It’s about doing the turn you want to do, but being able to transition into the next one, and the transition is almost as important as the turn, really. And it’s all about rail, using that rail functionally so that you have just as much speed coming out of a turn as you do going in.

Images for Surfing Magazine AUGUST  ISSUE 2014Josh Kerr, airing. Photo: Bosko

Progress your airs:

Beginner: Hossegor, France
Cost: 4/4 (average: $4000)
Ideal size: 2-3 feet
Average crowd: 11-20 surfers

STAY AT: Koala Surf Camp, $50 a night
AS SEEN IN: Modern Collective
WHY HERE? Wedgey lefts and rights breaking over sand, close to shore. It’s consistent and with various peaks up and down the beach, you can find uninterrupted ramps to practice on.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Every day is different. French beachbreaks are moody and unpredictable, so grab a coffee and a croissant, and prepare to check it hard.
GOAL: Just do an air above the lip.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? When approaching a section, try to envision sucking your knees up to your chest, rather than kicking your board away. Doing this will keep you centered and in control and help you “pop” off the wave.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Nate Tyler: Since I was a little kid, all I have wanted to do was pump down the line and do airs. It is almost a disease. France is a dreamy place for airs because it’s all sand bottom, and you can always find a peak to yourself. Plus, the swells are short period and crossed-up, meaning you’ll get plenty of wedges and sections to launch off. Remember: Airs are finesse moves. Don’t force them.

Intermediate: Canguu, Bali
Cost: 2/4 (average: $2000)
Ideal size: 3-4 feet
Average crowd: 21-30 surfers

STAY AT: The Chillhouse, $500 per week all-inclusive
AS SEEN IN: Campaign movies
WHY HERE? A rippable, punchy right with
predictable sections. Has a consistent onshore flow and a soft landing. It’s over reef, but you’re going to have to get comfortable with that.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Get up, slap on some sunscreen and get on it before it’s too windy and/or hot around noon. However, the best time to punt is right when that light onshore wind comes up.
GOAL: Incorporate any grab, so long as it’s not named “double.”
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Well, start by reaching. Any grab — whether it’s standard or stalefish — is going to feel strange at first. Persistence is key. The more you try a grab, the more natural it will feel and eventually your hand will instinctually float to whichever part of the rail you desire.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Chippa Wilson: For me, when I was learning to first grab, it was about getting the grab done and not worrying about the spin. Don’t care about how you look, just get your hand there or wherever you want it, and just get comfortable reaching for that spot. Doing airs at Canggu though, you wanna punt off that first section, because by the time it’s low tide, there’s a pretty deadly rock by the right. But the wind blows into it, which is perfect for grab airs.

Advanced: Cobbles, Western Australia
Cost: 3/4 (average: $3000)
Ideal size: 4-6 feet
Average crowd: 0-10 surfers

STAY AT: Surfpoint Resort Margaret River, $60 a night, 15 min from Cobbles
AS SEEN IN: Done
WHY HERE? It’s a slingshot right that flings
you into a crumbly section and — most importantly — the sideshore wind. Plus, the sharks can’t get you in the air.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Sleep in, have a coffee at the White Elephant, and wait for that wind.
GOAL: Spin like a top, boy!
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Shoulders, shoulders and more shoulders. Spinning a surfboard isn’t biomechanically different from jumping up and spinning on land — you have to use your upper body to spring into rotation. Simple, right? However, on a surfboard, you’ll have to perfect your timing with the lip (you should be halfway through your spin at time of departure) and stay centered on your board (don’t go all spaz on us, Steven Glansberg).
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Josh Kerr: The best way to rotate is to commit, and commitment starts with your head. Turning your head and shoulders makes everything else turn, so it’s all about committing with the upper body and then the rest of ya playing catch up. Then of course, stay over your board, spot your landing, and boom, there ya go!

Dunfee-9393Derek Dunfee, barreled. Photo: Edwin Morales

Progress your barrels:

The Boom, Nicaragua
Cost: 1/4 (average: $1000)
Ideal size: 3-4 feet
Average crowd: 11-20 surfers

STAY AT: Hotel Chancletas, $10 per dorm room, $35 per private room, $80 per luxury room (AC)
AS SEEN IN: Grom Games
WHY HERE? It’s just a short flight from east and west coasts. It’s consistent. It’s uncrowded. It’s where you’re going to learn to really get barreled.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Up with the sun, grab a quick snack and get in the water. Don’t waste precious time as the wind comes onshore mid-morning. Save that hearty breakfast for your post-surf hunger.
GOAL Simple: Get barreled, come out.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Bend at the knees, not at the waist; square your shoulders to the barrel opening and stay close to the wall of the wave.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Oliver Kurtz: At the Boom you want to ride a board that’s 2 inches shorter than your normal shortboard. That way you can chip in to the barrel a lot quicker and also have more maneuverability than you would with a longer board.

Intermediate: Lakey Peak, Sumbawa
Cost: 2/4 (average: $2000)
Ideal size: 4-6 feet
Average crowd: 21-30 surfers

STAY AT: Aman Gati Hotel, $50 for double room, $70 for a triple
AS SEEN IN: Year Zero
WHY HERE? Because Indo’s got real reefbreaks, but they’re more forgiving than Hawaii. Lakey Peak is the wave you accidentally get tattooed on your back when you’re 16 and not thinking clearly. A perfect, barreling A-frame.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: Up with the sun and straight in the water. Skip coffee. Skip breakfast. At Lakey Peak the early bird truly does get the worm, as the crowds swarm by 7:30 and the wind swings onshore at 11.
GOAL Frontside: Stand up straight in the tube. Backside: Learn to pigdog.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Frontside: It’s all about speed control. Too fast and you’ll be in front of the tube, too slow and you’ll get eaten. Stall or pump accordingly and then get your peacock on. Backside: Grab your outside rail with your trailing hand and use it to counterbalance your weight as you lean into the wave. Open your shoulders and hips to the exit, and keep your front foot almost parallel with the stringer and your back foot on its inside so your knee tucks in.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Dillon Perillo: Lakey Peak is tricky because when you’re going right you’re trying to take off from the left and backdoor it. And the people that are going left are doing the same thing on the right. So you have to be aware that you don’t cross tracks with people.

Advanced: Puerto Escondido, Mexico
Cost: 2/4 (average: $3000)
Ideal size: 6-12 feet
Average crowd: 11-20 surfers

STAY AT: Bungalows Zicatela, $100 for a 4- to 6-person bungalow, half that price in the off-season
AS SEEN IN: 2014 Billabong XXL Ride of The Year (Greg Long)
WHY HERE? Puerto is where you go to get Pipe-sized tubes without such a brutal crowd (and reef). It’s a challenge for anyone and a chance to break out some big boards.
YOUR MORNING LOOKS LIKE: When it’s 8 feet plus, paddle out in the harbor at daybreak and prepare to spend all morning looking to ride one or two waves. It’s all about a calculated hunt here. Don’t waste your energy packing closeouts.
GOAL Frontside: Ride the foamball. Backside: Let go of the rail and be a pigdog no more.
AND HOW DO I DO THAT, EXACTLY? Frontside: Position yourself deep and when the foamball comes up from below, bend your knees and keep your weight centered. Backside: You want to maintain the same shoulder and hip positioning as when you pigdog, but in a more erect manner.
PROFESSIONAL ADVICE Rusty Long: While most guys these days are riding smaller boards in bigger surf, Puerto is different because there is so much water moving. Above 8 feet you wanna be on a 7-foot-plus board, and when it’s really big we’ll use boards in the 8- and 9-foot range.

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  • Bobby

    Dude, this was great. Super-cool idea, and so many pubs gave up on the advice column. Nice work, guys.

  • http://boxingwithpencils.com Zach Hammel-Shaver

    Wow awesome list! I’ve actually been to Canggu and stayed at The Chillhouse! It’s an awesome place.