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How to resist the roll?

  • MCImes
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4 years 8 months ago - 4 years 8 months ago #35000 by MCImes
How to resist the roll? was created by MCImes
TL:DR - What's best practice for bailing off of medium size shore break when you find yourself farther inside than you intended. How do you best resist the roll of a nearly-breaking wave and make it back outside?

Long version - We had some really nice long period swell yesterday and the wind was almost calm. I got bored on the flat-ish ocean so paddled back to the shore and was surfing the beach break outside the break like. We had bi-directional swell from the southwest and west northwest, both of significant size and period, both swells came and went in sets, but they combined into some pretty big and somewhat unpredictable waves when they both come in at the same time. Both were around 2 feet @ 15 second in deep water, with outliers probably double that. Waves were stacking up at the beach to 3-4' (as in head to slight overhead) consistently and 5-6'+ (well overhead to double overhead) on outlier sets and focal points.

I had some really fun runs and for the most part judged the bail off time pretty well, except for one run - I was just outside the jetty where the waves stack up. A wave set from both swell directions combined right behind me and started to steepen rapidly a couple hundred feet in front of the average stack-up li where i was sitting with no speed. It picked up my boat immediately and I unintentionally started surfing  down it near the crest, even though i had the paddle dragging in a medium-hard brace.

I hit the rudder hard to the left to bail off as soon as possible, but the wave was steepening quickly and I was riding ever higher to the steep peak. I crossed over the peak 50-100 feet before the wave was critical. At that point I was still upright but the peak was just stating to collapse in on itself resulting in a strong rolling moment to the inside -  as in i was turning left and the wave wanted to roll me left and push the boat out from under me towards shore.

My question is - what is the best practice to combat the longer-period roll moment to the inside of a turn as you bail off a wave? I have a strong brace in downwind and flat water conditions, but  I find that the type of brace necessary to stay upright when a wave is collapsing or near0critical beneath you (or on you) is much different. A standard strong brace keeps me upright for a while, but eventually you loose speed and the wave keeps pushing the boat from under you faster than the brace provides a righting moment, and capsize to the inside of the turn.

Would throwing a foot over on the outside (the down-slope side) help? I keep trying to tell myself to roll to the outside as I know in moving water you always show your butt to the current, but in the moment it seems wrong and I dont get into this situation too often, but often enough that I now ponder a better response.

In the end, it was the largest outlier of the 10+ minute set that got me, so luckily i was not caught inside by the next waves. everything following was smaller and breaking farther in.  I just grabbed the boat by the rudder, swam back out 100 feet for good measure and remounted no problems. The surfers probably got a good laugh on my behalf. Fun surfing though!
Last edit: 4 years 8 months ago by MCImes.

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4 years 8 months ago #35004 by Ranga
Replied by Ranga on topic How to resist the roll?
First and foremost, as I have stared before, catching waves with long light racing skis will ALWAYS end in tears, I don't care who you are!

As for where to brace, you answered your own question. "always show your butt to the current". The paddle into the wave and the butt away from the wave toward the beach.

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4 years 8 months ago #35005 by mrcharly
Replied by mrcharly on topic How to resist the roll?
I've only done this in down river racers, so I don't know if it would work in a ski . . .

Get sideways on to the wave, butt to the wave, reach over the wave with paddle (if possible, if it is small enough). If the wave is too big to reach over, then paddle along the front of the wave, parallel to the wave and try to build up enough speed that you can get up the slope and go over the top. Take a shallow angle and be prepared for the abrupt change in angle as you break through - you will have to grab a brace/draw back over the wave crest as you break through the wave top.

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4 years 8 months ago - 4 years 8 months ago #35006 by Watto
Replied by Watto on topic How to resist the roll?

catching waves with long light racing skis will ALWAYS end in tears

Yeah, Ranga's right, you will absolutely definitely certainly end up in the shit at some point, if not today then next time. MCImes seems pretty wave and boat smart yet he was caught out though managed to escape unscathed - dented pride only on that day. Another day, re-read Ranga above.

Taking that as a given (ie you/the boat/both likely to cop it sooner or later) absolutely grand fun and as I've said in previous posts on this, ain't no adventure (read fun for some) without risk. The point of my post however for MCImes and others, despite whatever bracing or leaning you're doing, firstly if you haven't got speed then you're f*cked because you don't have control, secondly even with speed and control on a steep cresting, breaking (though combing is a it different) wave that's picking you up, well just take a big deep breath. On the shoulder going left or right (see link below) all good, on the face as it stands up, goodnight!  Stay in the straps if you can and you have all the power of the wave on your sooner or later broached parallel to the break ski going over the falls taking you shorewards - uh uh been there done that no. Or still leashed in - uh uh done that too. Come out on the shorewards side - there's a lot of ski coming at you from above (buoyant) waiting to put you to sleep - uh uh.

So when the unavoidable finally does come I do what I can with maximum speed to turn and get over that combing crest to left or right before the wave actually breaks, and for me it's arse to shore and lean ocean side of the ski if I can (it's sometimes sucked under you or something and may come back over your head). At that point I am in damage control.

Final point and I only know this only from experience not theory but boat handling principles white-water vs ocean are different. White water, moving water absolutely bum upstream leaning away from water moving towards you (it goes under your boat rather than catching gunwale and instantly tipping you in). However on a wave the water itself is not moving (wave motion only) until it breaks! In 1 ft shore break easy-peezie man, lean shorewards and bumpity bump you're still upright. On a breaking head-heighter - abandon ship for me. 

Big wave surfski
Last edit: 4 years 8 months ago by Watto.

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4 years 8 months ago #35007 by Wiid
Replied by Wiid on topic How to resist the roll?
When in doubt, feet out. A foot out on the wave side away from the beach will help you turn into the next set faster and will also balance you. 

Then practice practice practice. There are many places in the world where you need to land on a beach break. You actually need to come in side on and bouncing in on a wave otherwise your nose would peg while the bucket is still in water too deep to stand in. Oscar has some videos showing how to do a shore break landing. The approach should be similar to what you were trying to achieve with your bailout.

As to Ranga, big wave surfski riding is sport waiting to happen. I spend days just riding big burly reef waves. Lots of fun and Ski's can be fixed and replaced. Still cheaper than Golf or Mtb. 

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  • MCImes
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4 years 8 months ago #35008 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic How to resist the roll?
Good thoughts guys.

1:22 of this video perfectly shows what the situation I'm talking about - 

Just so you dont think I'm crazy (or really dumb), I should say 'Southern California' mid-size shore break is probably 3-4 feet tops. Any bigger than that and I stay well outside the break zone. As you say, much past overhead and you're asking for real trouble, injury, or boat damage.

I think 3-4' is still fun but not excessively risky. I was watching some waves in Durban and mid-size to them is a whole different thing! (i.e. huge and scary looking!). We typically have 10-14 second swell which has a lot less energy than when we get the 16-18 second stuff during the winter or passing storm. A 4' @17 second wave has an immense amount of energy. 10 or 11 second is still powerful, but not 'break your bones' sort of strong. More room for error without catastrophic consequence, but still requires respect of the wave as you all say.

I always fall in towards the ocean side and already have speed going down the wave face at an angle. Typically when I get caught and capsize, Im near the end of the run and almost parallel to shore, or at most withing 30* of parallel, so have speed and the wave is not critical. Its common for our waves that the water at the very crest starts to crumble and collapse before the wave is actually critical and closing out. The crumble starts falling towards shore faster than the underlying wave thus creating a current-like-effect (even if its not really a current in the whitewater sense). This is when I get rolled to the sea-side and think I need to lean shoulders towards shore / butt to sea, and brace on the sea-side, but its very counter intuitive because it means basically leaning down the wave face at the exact right moment to counteract the sea-side roll. I still have not done this successfully, but it seems like what should work. I feel like I could potentially still save the run if I could brace strong enough for long enough.

I've only had a decent size wave truly close out on me a couple times in a couple years, and its always unpleasant enough to remind me to pay Neptune proper respect.

Rob, if you see this - when you shot Jasper or Dawid doing the big wave surfing, it looked like in some of the pics they capsized inside the break zone. Did they have a jet ski to pull them out quickly? Or they're just pros and remount-and-get-the-hell-out? or did they just bail in time that they were outside the primary break? the video cuts from a couple runs that look like they close out on them. What happened after the cut?

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4 years 8 months ago #35014 by tve
Replied by tve on topic How to resist the roll?
I don't think that anything else but facing the ocean and doing some form of high brace ocean-side makes sense. You have nothing but the abyss on the shore side. Gotta watch your shoulder with that brace, though! I'd try to put my land-side leg out to keep the ski from being rolled out under me, but I doubt that it would actually work, most of the time where that would be necessary it would probably be dangling in the air without effect.

If you look at 2:30 in the video you see a wipe-out. He stuck the nose of the ski into the wave, oops. The thing I need to learn is to use the paddle for steering like he does in that video sequence. I think that when your mind reaches the "bail-out!" moment that's the most effective way to steer back and it also puts you more or less into the brace position.

Yeah, the "uncut" version of that video shoot would be awesome to have!

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  • MCImes
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4 years 8 months ago #35019 by MCImes
Replied by MCImes on topic How to resist the roll?
We had another day of 2-3' beach break from medium period swell and light winds so I was riding near the beach again with this thread in mind.

Dragging the paddle far back in an almost-brace (as Dawid does in the video) as you bail off the wave really does help you turn faster and acts as an effective brace. I was able to do about 170+° of turn before the next wave came (it hit me only about 10° off perpendicular). Not using the drag/brace I'd probably be closer to 20-40° off perpendicular and a nearly breaking wave would be a problem. at 10° or less to the wave, I think I could stay upright through a breaking wave up to about head high or slightly over. Big improvement.

Anyways, my experiment of 1 says dragging the paddle in a semi-brace is a good technique to use when bailing off a wave to both increase turning power and provide extra stability when cresting the wave. I'll be using this more and try out throwing the leg over as well. 

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