What's the best way to get past the waves on a paddle board?

If you watch any experienced surfer you'll notice that they do not go into the water right away, but most often spend a good amount of time just looking out and getting a feel for the waves on a particular day. Every day is different.  What is the wind doing? Is it off shore or on shore? What is the current tide?  Are there rocks or other surfers or swimmers in the area?  Finally, how are the waves breaking and what type of "sets" are forming?

As we get ready to open our first location on Monterey Bay, we are well aware that getting a paddle board past the beach break requires some skill and good timing.  Here are a few tips for limiting the damage to your body and board as you adventure out into the water.

1. Stay on your knees until you are well past the breaking waves.  Be prepared to paddle hard and fast so that you can get over the waves before they break. As you get more experienced you can paddle standing up on smaller waves, for larger waves it is best to be off of the board and push the board over the wave as you dive through. 

2. Be sure to aim your board directly into the wave, so that you can pop over smoothly, if your board does get turned side ways, make sure you protect your head and dive away from the board as it hits the wave.  

3. If your timing is off and you see that the wave is going to break on you and the board, dive under the wave and use the leash to pull the board back to you after the wave has passed.

4. The advantage of watching the wave sets, is that it gives you a good indication of the best time to go out to minimize having to paddle against the bigger waves, especially when they are breaking quickly one after another.  

5. Be patient.  Sometimes it is better to wait a bit and then paddle out when you see a lull - rather than fight against a big wave set.

6. When heading back into shore, always be aware of any waves building behind you, so you can anticipate where they might break.  Patience is again important and timing is key, especially on big days.

7. Practice.  Nothing is better than experience and practice to help you feel more comfortable in a specific location.  

8. If you are just beginning, consider taking a lesson - you'll learn valuable skills that you can then practice.  

9. Respect the power of the ocean.  If you have any doubts or if the water is crowded with swimmers in the surf line, don't go out there.  Wait until the conditions are safer.