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How to Wipeout in the Barrel


How to Wipeout in the Barrel

For Mark Healy, the art of falling in the tube has become a matter of survival.

Regardless of a surfer’s talent or experience, he/she will have to deal with a wipeout in the tube tube . The tube (or barrel) of the wave is the swirling core of the wave itself and the ultimate goal in wave riding , so falling while inside the guts of the wave can be a tricky situation. So the question is, “How do you wipe-out in the barrel?”

Take a Deep Breath

Inside the barrel, you can go from pure elation to an absolute thrashing in a millisecond. If you fall wrong, the swirling vortex can lift you high to the crest and throw your flailing body to the ocean floor below and hold your hungry lungs under water for minutes. Not cool.

Get a Quick Breath

Or more importantly, get any breath when you get the chance. Just as you begin to fall in the tube, take a big breath and hold it. Remember that you might be pummeled more than once as you go up and over and maybe over the falls again. Sounds like a no-brainer, but without a good breath, you are dead in the water (bad pun).

Protect your Head

A lot of action can go down when you are getting used in the barrel, so you have to be ready to get thwacked by your surfboard or to get driven straight into the reef or sand. Therefore, put your hands and arms around your head and face. That way, you can avoid getting cut or knocked out. Personally, I have been hit by my board not only under water but even directly after surfacing. So be careful of that as well.

Think Flat or take the Backdoor

If are jumping off the board after a close-out, be sure to jump feet first into the trough . A proper fall means that you fall flat, making sure that the wave can’t whip your head or feet down on the reef. Lying flat makes your body more buoyant and adds more resistance which in turn will help to keep you above the water as long as possible.

If you have the time, you can also try to break through the back of the wave just by turning up into the wave face and pushing your body through. However, this is very dangerous in big waves since it is very possible that you will be grabbed by the wave’s momentum and thrashed royally. Instead, it’s safer to just jump off your board into the trough and try to lie flat.

Final Thoughts

In small waves, falling in the barrel is not a big deal unless the water is very shallow or the reef is sharp. In bigger waves, an improper fall can get you in serious trouble. The most important things to get as far from your board as possible. If you are wearing a leash , this is impossible, so be sure to cover your head. One tip, in big surf, it’s almost always safer to pull in the barrel and fall there than to straighten out and take the brunt of the lip on your back.

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