THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO MAKE A DUCK DIVE
If you are considering learning to surf or already do, and want to get into medium to big wave days, you should seriously consider learning or perfecting your DUCK DIVE technique.
In all these years observing and analyzing the mechanics of surfing, from inside and outside the water, I have seen that this technique of diving in to avoid the force of the wave is even more difficult to master than the act of getting up and catching the wave. The duck requires skills such as: coordination, strength, timing, freediving movements and above all a lot of knowledge of your board.
Clearly there are boards that you just can't do a duck on, there is a breaking point where the buoyancy of this board exceeds the submergence capacity that the average surfer can exert on it. In the case of Flysurf, with proper technique you can perform a duck dive even on the model Double Agent 7.0, a 7-foot board that, despite its buoyancy, is a very agile board with a very hydrodynamic profile that allows you to dive and appear clean on the opposite side of the wave. Not many beginner surfboards of that size and volume can say the same, so we invite you to try it.
Before going into the analysis of how to do a duck, how can you forget that advice from your friend who once told you that as an alternative to the "duck" you could turn your long board into a "turtle or eskimo" turn, taking the bottom surface of the surfboard up, trying to get under the wave. We would love to know your experience when you tried it for the first time (or second, third, etc...). We will not only say that from our experience we have never seen anyone successfully execute that maneuver, but every time we've seen her try it has ended in disaster. Lest we be wrong, it could be said that the turtle turn, Eskimo turn or whatever you want to call it, does not usually work among beginner surfers.
The importance of making a duck lies in:
- You will not lose energy in paddling again, which moves the wave back towards the shore and therefore longer and more efficient sessions.
- You will maintain control of your board at all times, your life insurance in the water.
- You make sure that your board does not harm anyone around you.
A correct duck in the surf occurs when you submerge your head and body BEFORE the foam reaches you. In this way you appear on the other side of the wave in a clean, compact, in control way and you realize that you are practically in the same position as before making contact with it.
A BAD duck, and the classic beginner's mistake, is to submerge only the head (figure 1). In this way you have the impression and sensation that your whole body is under water when in fact it is not. You and your board move several meters back towards the shore and you don't explain how or why that happened if you "duck!". That's NOT how it's done.
How to correct it.
When you see a wall or foam that you want to avoid:
1. Row hard towards it. It is not possible to perform a duckling without momentum or speed.
2. About 2 meters before the impact, lift your body off the board, this is a way of counter-impulsing and then diving. Imagine that YOUR WHOLE BODY, from head to toe, must enter a circle drawn in the sea (figure 2).
3. Firmly grasp the rails of your board.
4. Take a breath, push your board nose first with your hands.
5. Lift one leg up to the sky. The importance is not in the leg but in the hip (the center of gravity and where the greatest weight of the body is concentrated). As a concept, you should try to lift your center of gravity (pelvis), bring your entire body weight onto your hands so that it pushes your board down. The technique is very similar to diving headlong in swimming, where the hip should be aligned with the head in an inverted position (of course not so exaggerated in this case).
6. If you did it right you will be underwater and you will feel some kind of nuclear explosion happening above you, you will feel the force of the (nice) water breaking on your back and the water rushing by. You won't believe how fast a wave moves.
7. Once underwater, just let yourself go. Many say that you have to use your foot to push the tail, it's true, but take it easy, if you're already submerged, just try to guide your board so that the tip is the first to surface.
8. Take a breath, look around and prepare to paddle and/or the next duck.
- Small wave days are perfect for practicing the duck.
- With any wave of more than 1 meter, a duck must be made.
- You cannot perform a duck on a longboard or a school foam board.
- Ducking is an essential skill if you want to surf in crowded spots.
- The duck saves a lot of energy in your session. Mastering a good duck means you're a better surfer.
Finally. YES, there are times when you should drop your board, either because of the size of the wave, your timing, your board or simply because your skills are not enough. Try to make these moments only when your life or physical integrity is at risk. If that happens you must be 100% sure that No one is within reach of your board! Considering the displacement that you may suffer when being dragged by the wave, make sure that there is no one at least 5 meters to the sides and, if possible, no one behind you all the way to the shore.
Confused?. We would love to hear your opinions, your experiences surfing and learning to do the duck.
See you on the water!