Surfing is a thrilling and challenging sport that requires a great deal of skill, strength, and endurance.
One of the most intimidating experiences that surfers face is a hold down. A hold down occurs when a surfer is held underwater by the force of a wave, unable to surface for air.
Hold downs can be a frightening and dangerous experience, particularly in large waves or strong currents. They can last anywhere from a few seconds to over a minute, depending on the size and power of the wave. During a hold down, surfers must remain calm, conserve their energy, and hold their breath until they are able to surface safely.
While hold downs are an inevitable part of surfing, there are ways to prepare for and cope with them. Proper training, physical fitness, and mental preparation can all help surfers to stay safe and confident in the water.
In this article, we will explore what a surfing hold down is, how it happens, and what surfers can do to stay safe and resilient in the face of this challenging experience.
Definition of Surfing Hold Down
A surfing hold-down is a term used to describe the time a surfer is held underwater after wiping out on a wave. It is a common occurrence in surfing and can be a dangerous situation for the surfer. The length of a hold-down can vary depending on the size and strength of the wave, as well as the surfer’s ability to hold their breath.
Hold-downs can be classified into two categories: single and multiple:
- A single hold-down refers to a single breath-hold followed by a paddle back to the peak or shore.
- Multiple hold-downs involve more than one single breath-hold and can be classified as intermittent or continuous.
Intermittent hold-downs involve multiple breaths taken between hold-downs, while continuous hold-downs involve consecutive breath-holds without any breaks.
Hold-downs can be caused by a variety of factors, including the size and power of the wave, the surfer’s position on the wave, and the surfer’s ability to control their board.
Hold-downs are a natural part of surfing and can happen to even the most experienced surfers. It is important for surfers to be aware of the risks associated with hold-downs and to take precautions to avoid them.
Causes of Surfing Hold Down
Surfing hold downs are one of the most dangerous situations that surfers can face. They occur when a surfer is held underwater by a wave for an extended period of time.
The causes of hold downs can vary depending on several factors, including:
- Wave Size: The larger the wave, the more likely it is to cause a hold down. Big waves can easily push a surfer underwater and keep them there for a long time.
- Wave Shape: If a wave breaks in a certain way, it can create a strong downward force that can hold a surfer underwater. This is especially true for waves that break on shallow reefs or sandbars.
- Surfer’s Position: If a surfer is caught inside a wave, they can be pushed underwater by the wave’s force. Similarly, if a surfer wipes out on a wave, they can be pulled underwater by the wave’s momentum.
- Equipment Failure: If a surfer’s leash breaks or their board gets lost during a wipeout, they can be left without a flotation device, making it harder for them to stay afloat and increasing the risk of a hold down.
It’s important for surfers to be aware of these factors and take steps to minimize their risk of a hold down. This can include choosing the right equipment, staying in good physical condition, and practicing safety techniques like breath-holding and duck diving.
Dangers of Surfing Hold Down
Hold downs are one of the most dangerous aspects of surfing. A hold down occurs when a surfer is held underwater by one or more waves. Hold downs can be frustrating, shocking, and nerve-racking. They can also cause panic, which can lead to drowning.
During a hold down, surfers can expect to be thrown about under the water for over 10 seconds. The longer the hold down, the more oxygen the body uses, so the faster the surfer will need air. Surfers who panic during a hold down are more likely to use up their oxygen quickly, making it more difficult to stay calm and hold their breath.
Hold downs can happen unexpectedly, especially in large surf with foamy waves. Continuous sets on the head and gnarly wipeouts can all lead to a longer than usual hold-down. Even experienced big wave surfers sometimes experience dangerous hold-downs.
Surfers should always stay calm during a hold-down. The more they panic, the more oxygen their body uses, so the faster they will need air. Surfers should also try to remain oriented during a hold down. They should try to keep their eyes open and look for light or movement to help them maintain their sense of direction.
How to Survive a Surfing Hold Down
A surfing hold-down is a terrifying experience for any surfer. It can happen when a wave crashes over you, and you get dragged underwater. The key to surviving a hold-down is to remain calm and conserve your energy.
Here are some tips to help you survive a hold-down:
- Relax: The most important thing you can do is to stay calm. Fighting the wave will only waste your energy and oxygen. Instead, try to relax and conserve your energy.
- Hold Your Breath: Take a deep breath before the wave hits you, and hold it for as long as you can. If you panic and exhale all your air, you won’t have enough oxygen to survive the hold-down.
- Stay Low: If you get caught in a hold-down, try to stay as low as possible. This will reduce the force of the wave and help you conserve your energy.
- Use Your Arms: If you feel yourself getting dragged by the wave, use your arms to pull yourself towards the surface. This will help you conserve your energy and oxygen.
- Wait for the Wave to Pass: The hold-down will eventually end, and the wave will release you. Don’t try to fight the wave or swim to the surface until you feel the wave’s force weaken.
Remember, the key to surviving a hold-down is to remain calm and conserve your energy. By following these tips, you can increase your chances of surviving a hold-down and continue to enjoy the thrill of surfing.
Surfing hold-downs can be a scary and dangerous experience for any surfer. It’s important to be prepared for these situations by practicing breath-holding techniques and building up your lung capacity. Box breathing is a simple technique that can help improve your breath-holding ability.
It’s also important to understand the risks involved in big wave surfing and to always surf with a partner or in a group. Even the most experienced surfers can fall victim to a hold-down, so it’s crucial to always be aware of your surroundings and to stay calm in these situations.
Remember that a hold-down is just a temporary setback, and with the right training and preparation, you can overcome it and continue to enjoy the thrill of surfing. Stay safe, stay prepared, and have fun out there!