Throughout the Oregon summer's small waves and strong north winds, surfers dream of this time of year when the ocean is full of energy.
It's not uncommon in winter, though, to have to wait for the swell to get small enough to surf it.
I sometimes fall into the trap of watching bigger waves and thinking "Oh I can do that, no problem…" But, it doesn't take long in certain conditions for me to find that I'm out of my league. Mind surfing is one thing, but actual surfing can be a different story. It's not a good feeling to paddle out and to just be hoping to race in between sets because I don't want anything to do with the waves that are out there.
Pushing your limits is important. It's necessary to become a better surfer. But, you have to be smart about it. Work your way up. If you're truly uncomfortable, think twice before going out.
For some people, head high might be their limit. For others, a few feet overhead. And for some people, usually people who have been surfing a long time and have already gone through the process of climbing the ladder to bigger waves, double to triple overhead may be their limit.
So, how can you be smart about it?
Always paddle out with a friend when it's bigger. You should be able to handle yourself in the water, but it doesn't hurt to have a buddy just in case either of you needs help.
You should also check with your local surf shop about the conditions if you're unsure. They might be able to tell you about a spot that is a little more sheltered, or if it's best to just wait until it cleans up.
Most of all, just understand your limits. If in doubt, don't go out. And try not to be like the guys in this video clip:
Be safe out there!