Perhaps the most difficult part of achieving consistent progress in your surfing is having the right waves to practice on. Most of us spend the majority of our time surfing sub-par waves, and even those who live near a world-class spot are often limited by the style of the waves on offer. After all, you aren’t likely to improve your noseriding if you in Haleiwa, just as it would be difficult to progress in your big wave pursuits if you are based in Malibu.
The best way to progress is to spend as much time as possible in lineups that lend themselves to your style of surfing—on waves that give you the opportunity to repeat the same manoeuvres over and over until you have then perfected. Whether you are looking to boost more airs, do bigger turns, ride deeper barrels, or charge bigger waves, here’s a list of six of the best intermediate waves that will elevate your performance.
WANT BETTER AIRS? GO TO WACO
The hardest thing about perfecting high-performance maneuvers is that waves are by their very nature inconsistent and unpredictable—and nowhere is this more apparent than when you are trying to learn airs.
First Impressions: Waco
While skaters and snowboarders can hit the same banks and kickers hundreds of times to dial in a maneuver, surfers have to catch a wave, find a section, and hit it with perfect timing—and only then can they begin practicing whatever air they are looking to do. A wedging wave pool like the one in Waco takes all of the uncertainty out of the equation, allowing you to focus on boosting and nothing else. Once you’ve perfected your airs in the pool, you can head back to the ocean and start hunting sections to punt.
NIAS IS ALL YOU NEED TO IMPROVE BARREL RIDING
With the exception of the handful of days each year when it turns into a triple-overhead plus slab, Nias is one of the easiest, most perfect barrels on the planet and a great spot to practice your tube-riding technique.
When to get barrelled? Check the Nias forecast
A consistent, machine-like right-hander with a relatively mellow roll-in to peeling, hollow section, this is what tubular dreams are made of. If you can’t get barrelled here, you won’t get barrelled anywhere, so for the fledgling tuberider, Nias is the place to start—at least when it’s less than double overhead.
TURN LIKE JJF, GET YOURSELF TO PASTA POINT
When you are looking to improve your turn game, you want a long, predictable, symmetrical walls that lets you tee up over and over, with just enough lip to hit but not enough to push back at you too hard. In other words, you want Pasta Point, a perfectly user-friendly, left-hand reef-point and the crown jewel of the Maldives.
When to slide? Check the forecast HERE.
LINK EVERYTHING TOGETHER AT LOWERS
Ultimately, the goal is to mix a bit of everything into your waves, linking together turns, airs, and even barrels in a seamless combo. While Lowers doesn’t offer up too many barrel opportunities, it is the ultimate platform for all-around high-performance surfing—a perfectly paced peak/point with crumbly lipped lefts and rights that are just begging to be hucked, hacked, and carved to pieces.
Avoid the crowds? Unlikely at Lowers but you can figure out when's best to go before work, HERE
GET NOSERIDING AT FIRST POINT, NOOSA
For those looking to take their traditional noseriding to the next level, it’s important to spend as much time as possible surfing flawless, friendly, infinitely long knee- to waist-high peelers—and First Point Noosa is exactly that.
Like most user-friendly point breaks, it’s frustratingly crowded, but once you get a wave to yourself, you’ll have more than enough time to work on your positioning, trim, cross-stepping, and hang time. Who knows, maybe you’ll even drop a heel or two!
Tippy tap to the nose, here.
TAKING A SWING AT BIG WAVES? SUNSET IT IS
Sunset isn’t the biggest wave on the North Shore—in fact, it can only rarely handle swells that qualify as XL. But there’s something about the way it breaks that provides that big wave feeling, even when it’s only triple-overhead or so.
And that’s great, because for most people, triple-overhead is pushing the upper limits of their comfort. If you are looking to get more confident riding a gun in largeish waves but aren’t ready for Waimea or Maverick’s, Sunset Beach is the ultimate training ground. There’s a reason most of the big wave crew has put ample time in at this wild, shifty lineup over the years.
Live cam: Sunset.
Cover shot by Federico Vanno