Words by Abbi Hughes

Knowledge, experience, fitness and knowing how to face your fears are some of the main things which will help you dramatically when you decide you want to push your limits and enjoy surfing in bigger waves.

A lot of surfers, like myself, are nervous of bigger waves and those inevitable larger set waves. Many people have had bad experiences in the past or are just a little anxious when getting in the water on bigger swells.

A healthy relationship and understanding of the ocean is key, we should all have the up-most respect for the power of the water, but we can do certain things to help us get more comfortable in the surroundings.


Here are some of my key tips to help girls ride bigger swells.

1. Know your local break. If you don’t know the beach that your surfing at you will automatically be a little more uneasy. Make sure that you surf unknown water on smaller days where you are more comfortable and have time to scope out where the rocks are, any rips and great places to sit in the line up.

2. Surf with your friends. If you go in the water with a group of people or just your best mate, there is always someone out there to look out for you. If you get in trouble or decide its not for you, you have a buddy there to help you out, calm you down or just simply get excited with you that your actually loving it and you’re not that scared at all.

3. Girls are the best. A lot of girls surf with groups of boys… this is great to push your limits, show of your skills and learn from fellow surfers. However, in times where you are a little uneasy, getting egged on by the boys can make you surf out of your comfort zone. This is where accidents can happen so try and stay within your limits and ease into it. All of a sudden you will find that your just not fazed and then you can show all the boys how its done.

4. Ride the right Boards. Bigger swells mean that there will be more power and more white water to get through. (If your a beginner, stay on the inside wait for a smaller day to practice your green wave riding). Choose the right board for you, one that will allow you to get through the faster sections and under the white water walls, foamies aren’t going to make the cut.

5. Sit and wait.  Lastly, my favourite tip is to just paddle out and go for it. If you can get past the white water and out back it shows your competency to be there. If you are not ready to enjoy the waves, just sit patiently out back and watch. This way you will start to understand where the big waves peak, the period between the sets, where the best place to take off is and ultimately whether you are comfortable.


Surfing is all about having fun, so if your not having fun, whats the point in being out there. Start small and work your way up to the bigger waves in your own time. Its always great to have a little push of encouragement and the odd friend to help you out from time to time, but ultimately the journey is yours.

Enjoy it and remember “if in doubt, stay out”.

Have fun x