You’ve been a good gidget and practicing heaps. You are getting quite confident with your pop-ups and you are catching green (=unbroken) waves. But mostly you just go down straight ahead rather than along the wave. Your next step in the gidget journey is learning how to surf across the wave.
Right or Left
If you want to learn to ride across the face of the wave rather than going straight, wave selection becomes more important. You want to choose waves that are not closing out along the whole length of the wave but are closing like a zipper to the left or the right.
They are called left-handers or right-handers depending on the direction. I found this very confusing at first because when you look at the wave from the beach, a wave that’s going left is a right hander and a wave that’s going to the right is a left hander…..which did not make any sense at first until I figured it’s based on the perspective of a surfer sitting in the water and looking at the beach.
Right-hander – when you sit in the water looking to the beach and the waves are breaking to your right.
Left-hander – when you sit in the water looking to the beach and the wave are breaking to our left.
Front side vs Back side
When you are first starting to surf across the wave, you might find it easer to surf a wave across facing the wave, which means you are surfing the wave on your front side.
Front side – when you are facing the wave surfing across the wave
Back side – when your are with the back to the wave surfing across the wave
Goofy and Natural
Which wave you are surfing on your front or backside depends on if you are natural or goofy foot.
Natural – left foot forward when you are standing on the board
Goofy – right foot forward when you are standing on the board
…if you are natural, you’ll be on your front side i.e. facing the wave when you surf a right-hander and on your backhand when you surf a left-hander (see also pics below).
…if you are goofy, you’ll be on your front side i.e. facing the wave when you surf a left-hander.
Long story short, if you are natural, look for a right-hander and if you are goofy, look for a left-hander when you are first trying to ride across the waves.
Admittedly, it’s sometimes a bit difficult to tell which way the wave is breaking. So before you head out there, make sure you are watching from the shore. Have a look at what other surfers are doing. Are they going left? Are they mostly going right?
Once you’ve picked your spot and you made it out there. Paddle for a wave as you would normally but instead of going straight, angle your board slightly into the direction you would like to go. If you are facing the wave, you can slightly lean into the wave and see where you going!
Riding across is really not that hard, the harder part is picking the right wave that opens up to either side. And as you would know by now. No two waves are the same and can be quite unpredictable. That’s why most surfers love point breaks or reef breaks because the waves are breaking consistently into one direction or the other. For beginner gidgets, point breaks like Crescent Head or the Pass are perfect for practicing riding across waves.
With beach breaks it’s a bit trickier as they are quite often breaking all over the place. But you’ll see gidgets with a bit of practice, after a while it will be like second nature to you and you’ll be flying across the waves.
Happy Surfing, Gidgets
This wave is a right-hander. The gidget riding it is a natural foot. She’s riding the wave on her front foot (i.e. her body is facing the wave).