When out in the water, it’s often hard to figure out what your next tactic should be. Even expert surfers like Nathan Florence had to try and test various methods to see which one worked out best for them. One particularly problematic dilemma for those starting out surfing is whether they should duck dive a wave or just bail out.
It might seem like a monstrous decision at the time when you are about to be smacked by a huge wave, and you have to make a split-second decision on what to go for. This article will break down the ideal moments for a duck dive or a bailout so that you are better prepared the next time you are confronted with this difficult situation.
The best time to duck dive
Duck diving should be your go-to maneuver every time you have a giant wave approaching you. However, remember that timing is everything if you want to accomplish a proper duck dive. It won’t work if you’re not at a safe distance and the lip lands right on you. However, when all calculations are done, it’s the safest way to “get to the other side” because of two reasons:
- You hold on to your board tightly while underwater, and because it is buoyant, you will safely reach the surface with it.
- You won’t break your leash. Leash breaks are the number one cause of various surfing accidents, and some of them can be quite gruesome. You can not only potentially hurt yourself but also anyone in your vicinity.
Most professional surfers will duck dive on big white waters, especially the 15-foot steamrolling second reef. While you certainly will cartwheel or flip around due to the momentum of the wave, as long as you are tightly hugging your board, you’ll get to the surface.
When to just bail your board
When you’re on a dry reef, it’s just safer to bail out because you wouldn’t want to scrape your knuckles while underwater or get smashed into the reef. Once you’re under the wave, you can push up into it to get to the surface and away from the reef.
Another reason to bail is when another surfer in front of you has bailed. A bailed board can be dangerous if it hits you, and therefore, you should try to get away from it.
However, keep in mind that there are many disadvantages to bailing out. Aside from the hazards already mentioned above, there are a few other downsides:
- Without your buoyant board, you’ll get pushed down further by the wave, and it’ll be more difficult for you to reach the surface. These situations call for increasing your breath-holding capacity so that you’re comfortable enough.
- If a wave falls right on you, you’re better off bailing.
Remember these tips the next time you’re out there for a smoother surfing session.