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Paddling Out

The majority of surf spots in Cornwall are beach breaks, which means to get to the unbroken waves you have to be able to paddle through the broken waves to get out back. When you are just starting to surf the unbroken waves or are progressing to bigger waves this can be a challenge.

Timing your paddle out is very important, the last thing you want is to start your first paddle out as a big set comes in. By timing it so you are deep enough to start your paddle out just after one of the bigger sets has been through you will stand a better chance of making it out back before the next set arrives.

It is important to consider the different sections of rips where you are surfing. Rips can make your paddle out easier if used correctly, however it is important to be aware that (as with any body of moving water) rips can be dangerous if you do not respect, understand or know how to use them safely.

Before getting in the water it is a good idea to have a look at the conditions and identify where the rips are so you can use/avoid them as required.

Cross-shore rips can have a big effect on your paddle out and where you end up once you make it out back, local knowledge helps here. If you start your paddle in line with where you want to end up chances are, by the time you make it out back, you will be further down the beach than you were aiming for. When there is a strong cross-shore rip you need to start your paddle further down the beach than where you want to end up, using the rip to put you in your desired position.

The part of the rip that travels out to sea is the most dangerous section of a rip, it is important to keep this in mind when considering using this to make it out back. This part of the rip, if used safely, can make your paddle out a lot easier; breaking waves in this body of water may not break at all (if the channel is very deep) if they do break they will not have as much power making it easier to duck dive or turtle roll through. Before using any rip you should make sure that you understand how rips work and the direction and strength of the rip you will be using.

Probably the most useful piece of information you can have is knowledge of the beach you’re surfing. This will help you to know where you should start your paddle out, how the waves will break and how far you will need to walk out before you start paddling to give yourself the best chance of making it out back while conserving your energy for catching waves. By spending 5-10 minutes watching the conditions prior to paddling out you can gain a lot of information and get out-back a lot quicker. Other than observation, the best way to get clued up on this is through experience and practice so get out there and catch some waves!

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