The ultimate guide to catching lots of waves in crowded surf

Whether you are in your home area or on vacation, low wave counts from surfing in a crowded line-up can be frustrating. Here’s how to deal with it and how to get more waves.

Catching waves in a crowd – introduction

My name’s Tod and I’ve been a dedicated surfer for 43 of my 50 years.

I’ve lived in Fort Lauderdale, Cape Canaveral, Atlantic City, Capitola, Ventura, and for the last 20+ years I’ve lived on the North Shore of Oahu in Hawaii. I take a surf trip every year and sometimes more than one.

catching waves in a crowd
Me at Rocky Rights

It’s fair to say that I’m no stranger to a crowded line up.

It’s also fair to say that, while I’m not a great surfer by any means, that I’ve caught a LOT of waves at a lot of epic spots over the years.

Being a white boy living in Hawaii has also made me a very aware “student” of line-up characteristics. Also – this is just how I am….I probably overthink everything.

And so…

Here is my blog about catching waves in a crowd. Let’s get right to it.

Catching waves in a crowd – choose your “line up zone”

I can think of about 5 different zones in which as surfer can line up at any given break. There’s the peak, the inside, the outside, there’s deep, and there’s wide. Within these zones are little “sub-zones”, too.

In which zone you choose might to surf to catch the most waves will depend on your skill level, you energy level, your degree of being “local”, the intensity of the crowd, the conditions, and several other factors.

In the diagram below we can see the zones of a typical right-breaking surf spot. Each zone has a green star to further breakdown and analyse where you might choose to wait for waves in a crowded line-up.

catching lots of waves in a crowd diagram

More coming soon:

Zone 1 Catching waves in a crowd – sitting on the main peak

Unless you are a very skilled surfer and/or very popular at the surf spot, do not expect to catch a lot of waves while sitting right in the middle of a crowded peak.

Catching waves in a crowd – sitting on the inside

Catching waves in a crowd – sitting deep

Catching waves in a crowd – sitting on the outside

Catching waves in a crowd – sitting wide

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