How do the waves break up: left, right, A-shaped waves, buckling waves?

"How do I know if the waves are going right or left"? "How do I know when the waves will break"? "What is squatting"? These are very common questions we hear from learners.

How do the waves break up: left, right, A-shaped waves, buckling waves?

When a surfer sees a lump on the horizon, they know it will eventually turn into a wave as it gets closer to shore. Such waves may be divided into different shapes, but most of the waves can be divided into left-handed waves, right-handed waves, A-shaped waves, and buckle waves.

left hand wave


The wave breaking to the left, as seen by a surfer riding the wind and breaking the wave. If viewed from the beach, facing the sea, the waves break to the right from this point of view. To avoid confusion, surfers always orient the wave based on the surfer's perspective: the surfer above moves along the wave to his left, a wave known as a "left-hand wave".

right hand wave

A wave that breaks to the right from where the surfer rides the wind. For those looking from the beach, the waves broke to the left.

A wave

A "peak-shaped" wave that breaks from the middle to the left and right. Such waves are popular because 2 people can ride at the same time: 2 surfers can hit the same wave, but in opposite directions (one to the right, the other to the left).

Buckle up

Waves that "break all at once" cannot ride left or right. It's possible to catch a snap wave, but usually the whole wave breaks after only a second or two of taking off, leaving yourself with little choice but to head straight to the beach (unless you're an experienced surfer who can do "flying" "or tricks like "wave top drift", but since you're reading this, we can assume that's not the case).

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