Oh, the duck dive, the ellusive skill to gettting out to the line up. The goal of a duck dive it to get under the cycle of the wave. The concept is pretty simple, but it usually take some practice to master. First off, this technique really only works for shorter boards. The more buoyant the board, the more difficult this trick will become. (For logs and tankers, you may want to opt for the turtle to break through a wave.) But here is the duck dive in a nutshell:
- Prepare: Approach the wave with some speed. I’m not saying you want to go for a full sprint, but being idle when the wave approaches won’t help your cause either. Whatever rhythm and momentum you have, keep it up.
- Nose down: As the wave approaches, push the nose down into the water like you are submarine and the captain just called out, “DIVE! DIVE! DIVE!” Timing this correctly will take some practice. Dive too early and you may pop up right in the curl; too late and you may get blasted by the wave. Just experiment a bit and you’ll figure it out.
- Tail down: As the wave starts to pass over you, take your foot and push down on the tail of the board. If timed right, the curl of the wave will pass over you and you’ll roll under and get shot out the back. Some surfers like to use their knee instead of their foot to push the tail down. The choice is up to you, but I recommend using the foot for two reasons. First, using your foot will allow you to push to the tail farther down and achieve a better arc. Second, the knee is a much more focused pressure point and can cause more damage to the tail of your board in the form of a significant pressure ding or full de-lamination over time.
- Exit: Finally, straighten out, sail to the surface of the water and paddle on.
Again, it takes some practice, but when you do it right, you will know. Doing it correctly has a certain feel to it. Check out this short video of a dude duck diving. This is what you are trying to achieve. (Also notice the other dude shooting down the line in the second wave. Quite cool.)