Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose

Surfing this Fall – Nose Riding

Debra Rose

Finally the swell is here and waves have been firing since Labor Day.  Every spot in Montauk has had its moment of churning out epic waves, allowing every opportunity to try different boards, techniques and styles.  While some days are better than others, conditions have been perfect for practicing the sought-after nose ride, so we consulted some of our Aussie friends for expert advice.

What wave are we looking for?  Not a barrel, more of a flat-ish faced wave with a long wall and even face.  If you have surfed Malibu you know what this looks like.  Super flat waves will leave you nose-diving instead of nose-riding, and something too hollow doesn’t hold your fin.  Like all things Zen, something in the middle is ideal.

What about the board?  You want a longboard, think big; fin, nose, tail and a single fin about ten or twelve inches.  You do not want a board that is lightweight, and you do not want a small fin that slides out if the wave becomes hollow.

How do you approach the nose?  Beginner nose-riders look for opportunities to be higher on the wave, leaving time and space to move back into the wave before it completely hollows out.  You have seen the more advanced surfers pull this off on the lower section of the wave, cross-stepping along the way to the mid-face area.  Most experts are on the lowest section of the wave, rather than using the top to stall and shuffle to the nose.

Shuffle or cross-step to the nose?  Most suggest cross-stepping from the beginning for efficiency, without getting into the clunky habit of shuffling. Practice on your skateboard, on curbs, and along the rails at the lighthouse parking lot as if you are over water.

What do you do once you are on the nose?  Stay light, arch back if you can, and shift the weight back to the middle of the board. Keep an eye on what the wave is doing so you know where the line of the wave is going.  If it flattens, head back quickly.  The best thing to do is to observe the experts, and those that effortlessly nose-ride on most waves.  Practice your style off the board, gracefully aiming for mountain pose with your knees slightly bent, arms at your sides, relaxed but upright.  With practice, patience and time, you will be ready for nose-riding in Malibu or Montauk in no time.