Six foot. Ten foot. Twenty foot. We all have our limits and our own idea of what ‘big’ is. Josh Redman has spent years building himself up across a full spectrum of waves, ranging from heaving cyclone pits in Durban to ten foot Pipeline and beyond. But no matter where your threshold currently lies, there are a few ground rules that will prepare you for taking on heavier waves. With some heavy swells predicted this week and the Striped Horse Challenge in full swing, we thought it would be a good time to cover the basics again in Part II of How To Overcome Your Fear & Charge With Josh Redman… [Check Out Part I HERE.]
7. Stay calm under pressure
When you are in a heavy situation it is so important to stay calm. The worst thing you can do is start panicking and wasting your energy and oxygen because you are freaking out. I keep going back to this because it’s so important: if you prepare yourself with the factors that are in your control, like fitness and equipment, it gives you that edge to deal with the things that you can’t control, like a twelve foot lip on the head.
8. Think happy thoughts
When I’m out there I just keep telling myself that I’m going to have the wave of my life. When I’m paddling into a big one, it seems like I have all the time in the world to think it through. One side of my brain is saying, “Please don’t go!” and the other side is shouting, “You better go!” I have such clear memories of waves that I paddled for and pulled back on when I could’ve made it and I have such regret at not going. I try keep that memory fresh when I am out there, especially when I’m paddling for a wave. Don’t pull back and regret it.
9. Don’t be acting stupid
On the other hand, as much as you don’t want to chicken out and miss the wave of your life, you also don’t want to be stupid out there. There is a fine line between being brave and being stupid. I for one have crossed that line and paid in shoulder injuries and broken boards. It goes back to focus and channelling all that fear and adrenaline squirting through you brain into making the right decision.
10. Get low and commit
Once you have made the decision that you are going to give a wave a go and turn around, have a few strokes to feel the way it is moving and predict the outcome. If it is a no-go, then you need to back out quickly and hope there’s nothing looming behind you. But if it is a yes, then you have to be all in, right there, not doubting yourself for a second – otherwise it could lead to pulling back at the last minute and getting sucked over anyway, which is always worse. Put your head down and paddle as hard as you possibly can. The goal is to get to your feet as early as possible and get a low centre of gravity. You will be going so fast down the face of the wave that you have to be in absolute control and a lower stance is crucial for this.
11. Finish what you’ve started
Whether you’re in it for a huge drop or looking for the barrel, the objective is to get to the shoulder. While paddling in and taking-off, always be aware of where you want to go. When I started getting into bigger waves, I was just focused on making the take-off. Once I did that, I was stoked, but then I would get smashed because I was caught behind the section. So your job is not done once you get to the bottom. Always have the shoulder of the wave and the task of getting there in mind.
12. Do it again
Once you take-off and experience the speed and thrill of catching a bigger wave you will be hooked on that feeling. When I pull off of a sick one, I get this uncontrollable childish giggle. I just start laughing and sometimes screaming and have this weird funny feeling in my stomach from excitement. It’s something that I am addicted to and can’t wait for the next time I get to feel it…
*Check out Part I of How To Overcome Your Fear & Charge With Josh Redman HERE.
**Enter your epic big wave sessions into the 2016 Striped Horse Challenge HERE.
**Lead Image: Beyrick de Vries feeling alive at Dungeons. All Images © Alan van Gysen