Editor’s Note: If you’re looking for more details about the beginner waves at NLand, check out The beginner surfer’s guide to NLand Surf Park.
While watching from the deck, a set rolled through (one-wave) the lagoon — with one surfer going the distance, beginning to end.
Chris Jones, NLand’s Communications Director, then says “We’re allowing people like me who grew up in landlocked areas to experience surfing for the first time; it’s a true new side of surfing.”
A wave comes every two minutes, so you know the exact minute of when you can potentially catch your next wave. No lulls. Just anticipation.
The pool is broken into two areas: the west and east ends. Each end has a different set of surfers. When a wave comes, it rolls to the opposite end of the lagoon. Then, for 60 minutes, waves roll back and forth.
Both sides of the lagoon catch the same wave, but surfers don’t interfere with each other, because of a pier dividing each side.
If you’re surfing the expert wave (aka “The Reef Wave”), you’ll share a session with four other surfers.
There are three take-off zones: one at each end of the lagoon and one in the middle. Most times there are two or three surfers at each end of the lagoon — with one surfer waiting at the middle launching pad (what NLand calls take-off zones).
You can only catch a wave here if a surfer falls or doesn’t catch the wave at one of the beginning launch pads.
I was fortunate to only have three other surfers in my session, which meant more waves for everyone; however, the group I was with failed at times to get into the wave or stay with the wave.
After catching a wave at one of the starting launch pads, I would paddle up or down to the middle launching pad, assuming that one of the three other surfers wouldn’t make it to the middle zone. And in this case, it worked in my favor.
However, if you’re surfing with other surfers who have figured out where to takeoff and how to stay with the wave, the chances of them falling before the middle launch pad are less likely, leaving you sitting and waiting.
If that happens, you’ll then have to paddle to the launch pad where the last wave started and then wait your turn.
It’s a gamble that can help you catch more waves, if you’re reading your particular situation right.
Below the pier is the mechanism that creates each wave. A fence protects you from the mechanism, which is what I used to hold onto while waiting for waves. Between waves, there’s water moving around, creating a fake current.
Holding onto the fence keeps you in the best spot for when the waves come. If you don’t hug the fence when paddling for a wave, you’ll drift towards the shoreline, leaving you in “no man’s land.”
The wave moves surprisingly fast, so if you aren’t paddling hard enough or if you’re slow to get to your feet, you’ll either fall because you have no speed dropping in, or miss the wave entirely. This will put you at the end of the rotation.
Surfing backside was more difficult than I thought it would be, which was surprising to me given how I grew up surfing right-hand pointbreaks and I prefer to surf backside.
The speed of the wave forces you to work towards getting back to the fence, because on the other side of the fence is the waves power source.
You don’t want to do a cutback, because it’ll be difficult to get back in front of the wave; and you don’t need to, if you’re staying close to the fence. It’s a lot of horizontal turns, which is still fun and reminiscent of summer Southern California and Florida days.
Surfing frontside was different. If I fell behind, I could catch back up, where as when I was backside, I couldn’t because the wave was moving too fast to heavily lean on my inside rail to get back to the critical part of the wave. Having more freedom meant I could do a variety of turns without feeling like I was going to fall off the back of the wave.
The end section of the wave was by far my favorite part. When the wave hits the inside, the face of the wave grows, allowing for stronger, more progressive turns. Or if you’re short, you can get an mini, almond-like barrel.
Since NLand uses freshwater, I chose to ride a board that was wider and thicker than what I would normally ride in Southern California.
NLand isn’t ever going to replace the ocean; and it’s not trying to. What it’s doing is creating new surfers and Chris said, “a new side of surfing.”
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