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August 30, 2010 / Wave Tribe

Longboard Advice for Newbie Surfers

We received a question on our facebook wall from someone who is just starting to surf and couldn’t figure out how she was supposed to pass the waves if she couldn’t duck dive. Michelle, the newest member in our crew wrote her back with the best advice she could give her. Our friend was stoked, and so were we, because we want the Tribe to be, well, exactly that. We want to show that there are people behind the name, that we are listening, and that we are here to help.

Thanks Michelle, we are stoked to have you by our side!

Here goes the thread:

Our friend’s question:

I thought this would be a great place to post this question: Intro – I’ve been surfing everyday (depending on waves) for the past 3 months. I am riding waves and its great! ….but today, we actually got bigger waves and I dont know how to power through them if I get caught right in front…..I see shortboarders duck d…iving through it all but how do I get through the big ones on a longboard!!? help… love you xo

Michelle’s reply:

Hi S,
My name is Michelle Connelly, I have a few tips for you on getting through big waves on a longboard.
First, there are a few ways to get through the wave. The one that works best for me is a turtle roll.
This link is a view so you can grasp the concept.

If you are surfing on a hard board (not foam), it is essential to gain ramming speed and not turn over until the last second before impact. If you turn over to early without enough speed you will subject yourself to the full force of the wave. It is also very important to stay close to your board, otherwise there is a good chance the water will over power the gap between you and your board – and rip it out of your hands. ( I have experienced this personally in big waves, and it is not fun!!) Of course, practice in small waves first, so you and your body get the muscle memory down.

Then there is duck diving, it is the same as doing it on a shortboard, you just have to account for weight and and length of your board. The more surface area of your board, the harder you have to push – and the more control required to bring your board through the back of the wave.

The method of “pushing up” and letting the wave pass through you and the board, is what I use in small to medium surf, or on unbroken waves.

I tend to gravitate to using the turtle roll method when I am in the “impact zone” on big days, and when the whitewater coming at me is really strong. Using this method will deflect the power blast of the curl or white water past your board, while you are able to guide through the back underneath. It aslo helps sometimes to do a big scissor kick with your legs once you feel the wave to help with an extra push on those extra big days.

I hope this info was helpful to you, and if I can help you with any more questions or clarifications on any of the methods above – please feel free to email me personally at It is great to see more girls out in the line up with da boyz on big days!
Be safe, and most of all have fun!
Michelle Connelly
San Diego, CA

Our friend:

Thanks Michelle!!! This was super helpful! Today I went out and got up on one waist high left and was pretty nervous but was able to work it out:-) This was bigger than usual!! Luckily I tend to see a familiar face in the water for extra instruction and encouragement!! I practiced turtle rolling on smaller waves and paddled waayyy outside to get back into the surf, but I did feel like I had a little bit more of the comfortability factor after knowing some options to help with the bigger surf. Yeah!!! it was fun today! Thankyou!



Leave a Comment
  1. terrence / Aug 30 2010 4:16 pm

    Hello S and all the rest,

    Found out about this event at Sacred Craft. The 100 Wave Challenge is in Mission Beach on September 18th. They are offer free surfing lessons if you get pledged for 10 waves.

    This is for a good cause:


  2. paul / Sep 7 2010 1:16 pm

    Thanks T!

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