Point Break - not only a movie but also a great kind of surf break

What is a point break, other than the movie? It is where the coastline juts out and causes an isolated break. What does this mean to you as a beginner? The first few things are that rips and strong currents tend to be present at this kind of break more than beach breaks because of the shape of the coastline, so you need to exercise caution.

Point breaks are great breaks. And they almost all only have one take-off spot. Which everyone is centered around. Trying to catch every single wave. And this spot will be dominated by locals.

The same locals have probably been surfing this break since you were just a glint in your daddy’s eye. You need to observe and exercise caution, or you will heartily piss off the locals. You may take off thinking that there is absolutely not a snowball’s chance in Hades that that guy will make that wave. Then suddenly he is driving straight into you, with a very unhappy expression and some choice words.

But these breaks can provide great conditions for beginners if you know what to look for.

If there is:

An inside bank or reform

A long break with slow sections at the end

A protected smaller wave inshore from the primary break.

Point breaks are often similar to beach breaks, specifically if there is a long “sand cove” style break. These will often have an inside bank with smaller waves that are ideal for beginners. When you are looking at a break that has no inside bank look at the end of the waves, the will generally be slower and great for you to surf as a beginner.

Always make sure you do a good long surf check before hitting the water. The most experienced surfers are interested in the fastest portion of the wave and, as a beginner, you are interested in the slower portion. The will generally pull out when they hit the slower section, but not always. Check behind you every time to make sure you are not about to get in anyone’s way.

If you have previously surfed a point break, whether with other surfers or in a lesson, this does not mean it is always an ideal spot. Be extra vigilant when doing a surf check at point breaks because the conditions can change quickly and unexpectedly.

Paddling out can be a learning experience as well. In a lot of cases you will have to take off from the rocks that create the break or paddle over a sandy bank with fast breaking waves. Getting past either of these requires both timing and paddling skills that most beginners don’t have yet. If you don’t time it right you end up getting run over or tossed like yesterday’s laundry onto the rocks.

The currents that are associated with almost all these breaks are strong. You will have to paddle you way through all the surfers taking off and stay out of their way, plus through the current and white water. Make sure you are strong enough before attempting this or you will floundering mercilessly.

Be aware that the waves at point breaks are going to be fast. Observe first to see how much speed other surfers are getting so that you can judge when it is safe for you to take off and not be headed onto a collision course with someone else. And, as always, when it doubt, ask. The more you learn the more you can enjoy yourself.

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