By Ben Mondy
Rattling along headlands and wrapping around promontories, pointbreaks provide the ultimate pleasure experience in surfing. Deep water channels provide an element of safety and long wrapping lines a way of diffusing crowds. It’s a perfect match of waves and coast with surfers reaping the benefits. The pure geometry of a pointbreak makes a surfer feel proud and justified. And what a movie!!
Tiago Oliveira, Coxos. Photo: Ricardo Bravo
That most famous of surfers, the famous physicist Snell in his self monickered Law described pointbreak surfing as, “that for a given pair of media and a wave with a single frequency, the ratio of the sines of the angle of incidence θ1 and angle of refraction θ2 is equivalent to the ratio of phase velocities (v1 / v2) in the two media, or equivalently, to the opposite ratio of the indices of refraction (n2 / n1).”
Yeah he was one cool cat all right with a real knack for saying how it is. Of course you all know he is describing refraction. The surface phenomena when waves bend after moving into water of a different depth i.e. around a sand or reef covered headland. The result is a linear pleasure offering length and line, space and distance, channels and pure surfing performance.
With pointbreaks offering predictability and time, an endless loop of walled canvas it’s no surprise that surfers who grew up on them are known for a smooth style. Forget the ungainly pumps for speed in between three foot wind peaks, pointbreaks provide their own power source with 200 yards of wave to eliminate all the rough edges. Think Tom Curren and Santa Barbara, Parko and Fanning on the Gold Coast, Craike on the desert lefts. In fact if you want to get rid of your beachbreak rashness, or your close-out style flab, head to a pointbreak and ride and glide.
Sand or Reef
Take your pick. Sand points usually offer boardshorts, gnarly sweeps and an ever changing constant. Think Burleigh or Anchors, Namibia’s Left or Lennox Head. They provide green and brown drainers, hardpacked banks and sand in every orifice. Reef pointbreaks offer predictability and power, probably tight take-off zones and tighter locals. You need to jump off rocks and sit on boils. You need to surf both to be a surfer. You need to go to Jeffries Bay and Kirra and see what Snell’s Law can do for you. You need refraction, you need pointbreak perfection.
1. Surfing points is about flow, timing and combinations, finding the rhythm of the wave and matching it. Get a few to familiarize yourself , run around/paddle back watching closely what sections are doing what.
2. Every good pointbreak will have a crew of locals who know and rip the joint. Watch and learn from these surfers, where they turn, where they race, etc.
3. Get your rail in! Beautiful point surfing is about edge control, flow and speed with commitment, basically good surfing. If you’re worried about hitting the reef, throw yourself over the falls on the first set to get rid of the nerves.