Why I Love Dead Onshore with Surf.

Yeah.  Incredible session yesterday.  The airport reported 32 G 41  at 5 pm.  Really solid wind.  Dead onshore at Jetties.  The North Shore can get very fun with these conditions if you can handle it.  I mean seriously.  I used to cut it off when the airport said gust to 34.  The following day continued with more of the same but in the “reasonable” zone.  Solid 9 but of course the surf was backing down as the wind decreased.

Water Tower Beach

Water Tower on a North East

As you know the whole North shore of Nantucket can fire off some pretty fun, punchy surf on any northerly direction.  But by the very nature of on-shore wind that type of surf is usually pretty blown out and mushy.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of excellent, critical moments. You just have to work for it.

I like to set up above where it is breaking and troll back and forth in the rollers.  I’m looking for a wave that could develop into something good closer to the beach or the sandbar.  Being regular foot I like to surf with my right leg back so I’m cutting across the waves on port tack pretty perpendicular to the direction of the waves.  Basically I’m looking for a wave that I can get a couple of three casual turns on and hopefully get in position to be at just the right place at the right time.  Its going to jack up and break somewhere along the line and by turning on it while it is rolling in I’m increasing the likelyhood that I will be there at that critical moment and get one nice hack.

The other method that I love requires less patience.  It requires that you can make a really tight, snap turn right at the top of the wave, just before it goes critical.  I’m sailing along just along the edge of the break on port tack, pinching up and just looking for anything starting to jack up.  When I pick my wave I pinch right up into it and make a quick, snap turn at the top.  Its a turn with no carve, basically just switching the direction of the board 180 degrees and whipping the kite across.  Now I set my toe-side edge and check my options for what to do next.  If the wave is healthy I can just ride down the face toe-side.

If I look over my shoulder and it seems to be going left I can drop straight down, carve a tight, backside bottom turn and get a solid backside hack at the top.  This has been the most common scenario in the recent run of North days at Jetties.  Sometimes your timing isn’t perfect and you are just going off some whitewater but its all good.  The thing here is that it is pretty easy to do all your turns tight and stay really close to the wave.  This is important because the good, critical sections appear and disappear really quickly and you have to be on it.

The last option is available when it looks like the wave is healthy and moving to the right.  Drop straight down and carve your front side bottom turn and then just wack the heck out of whatever is jacking up in front of you.  The trick part here is not carving your bottom turn too wide and having a hard time getting back to the wave in time.  Its on shore wind so its pushing you away from the critical section and the front side bottom turns tend to be a lot more drawn out in front of the wave.  But it is so worthwile when you get that perfect front side hack.

So onshore wave riding is all about putting yourself in the right place at the right time.  I guess all wave riding is like that but with on shore the good opportunities tend to just pop up and then dissapear and the trick is to anticipate where this is going to happen and position yourself accordingly.  But if you do you will get tons of quality hacks from what looks like just a bunch of mush.

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