Surfing wave types and their suitability for progressing SUPers.

There are many different types of wave that offer different suitability’s for paddling a SUP. Depending on your experience, aspirations, style and mood can often dictate what type of wave you’re after for SUP surfing. With so many new paddlers coming into SUP it’ll come as no surprise that some of these will be heading for wave areas this summer. If this is you here’re the most common types of wave found around UK shores and how suitable these will be for learning and improving.

Beach break.

The most common type of wave is found unloading on sand bottom coastlines. Beach breaks are everywhere and can be the best type of spot for learning how to SUP surf. Being sand bottomed instills confidence in paddlers to tackle what’s on offer. And mostly it’ll be a softer landing when you wipe out. Rather than meeting any unforgiving rock or reefy seabeds.

Small wave breaking at a typical beach break location.

Beach break waves can be erratic, however. Often breaking all over the place with lots of white water to navigate. This can prove tricky for newbie SUP surfers. Especially on big days. Summer is also the time when hordes of others will be in the water. Particularly at headline locations. These crowds can make it tricky for learning when you’re fear of hitting other with your gear will be high.

Reef break.

Waves breaking over shallow areas of rock is what we refer to as reef breaks. The swell comes in and can unload powerfully in some instances. Mostly in the same place every time. So whilst these waves can have a lot of energy reading where the wave will break is often easier.

Mediterranean reef break action.

This said reefs aren’t always the best bet for improvers as falling could result in injury. In time, with experience reefs will possibly open up. Some locations can be great for SUP surfing. Although many are also not suitable. If the reef in question is particularly good then you’ll probably have a frothing pack of surfers to contend with. And many don’t take kindly to stand up paddle boarders in the line up.

Point break.

A point break can be either sand or reef bottom (or combination of the two). The waves pulse into to shore and then refract around a headland, or point, bending as they do so. Breaking away from the shallows point waves peel off into deeper water both left and right depending on specific geography.

Point waves can be blissful. For all types of wave riding vehicles. Taking off and gunning down the line in one consistent direction is highly addictive. With no closeouts and a solid swell it’s possible at some points to get seriously long rides.

Mello Caribbean reef point break.

As with all waves the hardcore nature of each spot varies from place to place. Some may be a no-no for SUP whereas others could be perfectly suited. Unfortunately, true point break waves in the UK aren’t as abundant as you’d think. There are a few, however, if you fancy seeking them out.

River waves.

Even rarer than proper point break waves are river waves. Formed by recirculating water river waves are stationary and can be found where there’s lots of flow and bathymetry to help them take shape. Often breaking over rocks and with other hazards to consider they’re not always the best for progressing paddlers.

A doable river wave perfect for SUP.

Mellower river waves can be found in some areas. Forming as water rushes down weirs, for instance, much smaller standing waves can offer the chance to practice in relative safety. It won’t be long before riders are searching out bona fide river waves, however, to get that additional adrenaline buzz.

For more SUP surfing knowledge head across to the McConks Knowledge Hub here.

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