Surf Breaks at a Glance

How Waves Break

We can remove some of the guesswork in finding good waves by taking a quick look at the various types of surf breaks and the factors that influence them. This knowledge will come in handy when you’re trying to figure out how to read a surf report.

Beach Break

Chances are your local surf spot is a beach break. local surf spots, T-Street is a local surf spot in San Clemente. .  Beach breaks are where the waves break over a sandy bottom.   Usually within 100 yards of the shoreline.  Since the ocean floor is sandy, the waves are at the mercy of the changing bottom contours,  waves break when they eventually hit a bottom shallow enough to expend their energy. Along the length of the beach, some waves will break better than others, depending on the shifting sand: the ocean floor is affected by currents, storms, tidal effects, and even man. Although beach breaks are generally close to shore, they can still be challenging. They are less predictable than point and reef breaks because the waves will not always break in the same spot, making it harder to anticipate were the next wave will break.

Point Break

Malibu, Rincon and Jefferies Bay are all considered world-class waves.  On the local note here in San Clemente, Ca  Cottons is a good example of a left point break.   A point break defining characteristic is typically a natural headland (where the coastline comes to point) but, could also be a long jetty.  They also break either left or right not both ways as do beach and reef breaks.  What they lack is diversity.  They more than compensate for in length of ride, as they sometimes break for hundreds of yards.

Under ideal conditions a good point break welcomes swells into shallow water built up by rock and sand along he point, allowing the swell to break and then peel off into deeper water inside the point.  On good days the waves peel off like spokes on a wheel, drawing big crowds, but you only need a few waves to make your day!!

Reef Break

Reef breaks are arguably the most consistently flawless waves in the world.  Pipeline and Teahupoo  are best known  wave in this category.  A reef break is a wave that breaks over coral reef or rock bed.  Whenever a reef is exposed over open ocean, you have the potential for a fast and hollow wave also know as in the tube.  As the swell approaches from deep water it instantly hits the shallow reef, escalating in height before pitching and barreling  over the reef.

Reef breaks are known for breaking top to bottom(steep to hollow) over razor-sharp coral with  only a few feet of water separating the surfer from nasty bacteria ridden cuts.  Surfers are rewarded with a fast tubing ride that lines up for full throttle maneuvers.  This break however should only be attempted by quick footed highly  skilled surfers.

See you at the beach!


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