Stand up paddle surfers and prone-paddle surfers alike are all searching for that secret place in the lineup where nobody else is sitting and the waves just keep coming to you. Once you find it, you innocently sit there looking around as if you’d been sleeping in that spot the last hour in an effort not to give away the perfect lineup position. Then, when the wave comes, your thoughts go like this - “Another perfect wave! Should I play it cool as to not make the wave as good as it really is or should I tear it up and risk giving away the perfect lineup position? Shoots! Ride it!” And off you go, tearing it up just hoping that everyone just happened to be blowing saltwater out their noses right when you hit the lip, missing the vision of spray off the back of the wave. You paddle back to your spot and realize that you are satisfied and will gladly give the reins of the lineup to someone else. The strange thing is there’s nobody around to send over to your spot. Why? You’re surfing from the inside out and nobody even noticed you were there.
The first time we heard the term “surfing from the inside out” was when Paddle Surf Hawaii shaper Blane Chambers was describing the typical way he lines up at his local break. As far as we know, he coined the term and here’s our version of it. In a typical lineup, there are usually some longboarders on the outside waiting for the once-an-hour bombs, the mix of longboard and shortboard surfers at the main lineup, and a group of shortboarders on the inside section waiting for the reform. A little further inside and oft times over to the side there may be a spot that has a classic wave that swings wide and peaks up inside from where everyone else is surfing. Many times this inside-inside wave is steeper, faster, and more consistent than the main peak. Why nobody else waits for this wave is a mystery, but stand up paddles will often ride this wave over and over again without any other surfers even taking notice.
Off to the side you wait for that perfect wave to come through, the longboarders are too deep, the shortboarders want a bigger one, and then it peaks up right in front of you. As you see it approach, you power paddle to the inside of the break and late drop into wall of water that everyone else passed up. After kicking out at the end of your ride, you paddle back to your position off to the side and out of the way until the next one comes through un-ridden right to you. Now you’re surfing from the inside out.
Things to remember when surfing from the inside out: Watch for the set waves and move out early. Paddle to the channel and get out of the way before the set arrives. If you do happen to get caught inside, exercise proper etiquette, paddle behind the approaching surfer, and take a foam ball beating on the inside. Never cut off or paddle in front of a surfer who’s riding a wave just to avoid a roll though the white water spin cycle. If you do paddle to the outside when the set approaches, after the set passes, paddle back to where you were before. You may be in perfect position for the next set wave that comes every 10 minutes, but just like they taught you in kindergarten, you have to wait your turn. Go back to where you were and ride those inside waves. If you’re really feeling the need for a bomb, you can stay out there, but sit down, relax and make sure that everyone who has been waiting in the lineup has got their bomb before you get yours.
Give surfing from the inside out a try. You won’t be in anyone else’s way, you’ll be stoked to be in the water, and you may discover a well of never-ending waves that you overlooked for years as a prone-paddle surfer, waves that nobody else wanted. As always, surf with safety, exercise control and proper etiquette.