How to Ride a Wave

The surf in Texas may not be the biggest, but it was an early training ground for 43-year-old surfing legend Ken Bradshaw, who has spent his life riding waves as tall as buildings. Bradshaw, a native of Houston, first paddled out at age twelve on a family trip to Surfside, a beach community sixty miles south. After the tenth grade, he ran away to surf in California and eventually settled in Hawaii, where we caught up with him to talk about the sport he calls his “one true love.”

How do you catch a wave?
Lie stomach down on the board and paddle really hard. At first you want to catch a wave that’s already broken a little; then you’ll progress to catching the swell. How quickly you progress depends on how much energy you have and how much time and effort you put in.

Then what?
Push yourself up to a stance; stand parallel to the surfboard. If you’re right-handed, your right foot should be on the tail. You should be crouched with your knees really bent so you lower your center of gravity. Keep your back straight and your butt lowered. Avoid a real wide stance.

And when you fall off?
Fall shallow, the closest to a belly flop you can. Texas is a good place to learn because it is all sand bottoms. There’s nothing to worry about hitting except, possibly, a stingray. And what if you have a run-in with a shark? Hit it and run!

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