Duck Dive or Bail: How to Know When to Ditch Your Board

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: 

  1. You hold on to your board tightly while underwater, and because it is buoyant, you will safely reach the surface with it.
  2. 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: 

  1. 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.
  2. 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.

James Davis

Written by James Davis

I'm a true California local, and I've spent my life riding the waves along our stunning coastline. Surfing has always been my greatest love, and in my writing, I try to capture its genuine essence. My words aim to transport you into the heart of the surf culture, where the ocean and surfers come together in perfect harmony.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recommended posts

May 29, 2024
How To Qualify for Olympic Surfing 2024

Mark your calendars for July 27, 2024! A wild storm of surfers is headed towards Tahiti to conquer the Teahupoo waves. Due to its distinct location, this is going to be the most-watched surfing event in history. With the qualifying events finally over, these champions are more than ever determined to showcase their skills to […]

Read More
February 19, 2024
Maine Surf Guide

While there are several wave fields still undiscovered, Maine can still offer some of the best conditions for visiting tourists to catch that perfect wave. In this article, we’ll take a look at why you might want to visit Maine, the best times to surf, and the best places to check out on your next […]

Read More
February 14, 2024
How To Choose the Best Surf Camp in 8 Steps

Surf camps have a certain appeal. They’re ideal places to learn surfing, especially for solo travelers who want to meet people and socialize in a friendly environment. However, surf camps are springing up in every nook and cranny. You’ll find plenty with an ocean at almost every corner of the planet. The increased numbers make […]

Read More
February 12, 2024
Alaska Surf Guide 

If you’re a fan of the outdoors in general and dislike crowds, Alaska might be your go-to place to surf. But with the various hazards and difficulties getting there, it can be a somewhat tedious trip. In this comprehensive guide, you’ll learn all about the wonders and potential dangers of surfing in Alaska.  With its […]

Read More
January 30, 2024
Are Surf Camps Worth It? The Pros and Cons

Surfing is a popular sport, especially with many health fanatics who consider it a great way to keep in shape. If you’re a beginner and want to hone this skill, you might consider joining a surf camp. But, is it worth it? This article will take a deep dive into the essentials of surfing camps […]

Read More
January 30, 2024
Georgia Surf Guide 

If you’re living along the East Coast, it could be a bit difficult to travel across the country to Hawaii or California for that perfect surfing spot. Georgia might not be your first choice when it comes to surfing, but with the warmer waters, beautiful surrounding islands, and stunning wildlife, there are quite a few […]

Read More
January 20, 2024
How Waves Are Formed

Waves, especially ocean waves, are often so common that we never usually think about where they come from or how they’re formed. In this article, you’ll be diving into the specifics of the formation of waves, including the various types of waves and where you may find them.  Depending on the type of wave, there […]

Read More
January 19, 2024
9 Things You Should Know Before Learning How to Surf

Watching surfers riding huge waves certainly inspires us to learn the sport as quickly as possible to impress others, just as we were fascinated. It’s a sport like no other, and the best part is that it gives us a chance to master the ocean, which scares even the best of us. However, remember that […]

Read More
January 15, 2024
7 Weirdest Waves That’ll Blow Your Mind

One of the best things about ocean surfing is that you’ll never know what you’re going to get. It's unpredictable and sometimes too fast or too big for you. Nevertheless, other waves are so wacky and weird that they will level up your excitement in a different way. From massive wipeouts underwater to being thrown […]

Read More
1 2 3 14
Find your ideal surfing destination with Surf Spots. Connect with the waves and brace yourself for an experience of a lifetime.



Contact Us


All rights reserved by Surf Spots