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Waves, Tides, and Breaks


So, Berlin is clouded and cold again. What should we do here? Part 2 of the theory of course! Today we’re going to go into more details regarding wave formation and more specifically, we will approach the influence of tides and breaks.

Since I don’t want to make this *too* technical, let’s leave the moon phases out and let’s concentrate on the basics. Of course there is a tide push that depending on the moon phases has different strength effects and generates also high and low levels of water (springtides and nipptides). But for the beginning, it’s more important to know at which time of day it is best to go in the water instead of on which day of the month. The different tides are easy to find on the Internet – more about this in the next post – but at Atlantik Surf there’s always a tide calendar around.

Bottom line, between two high tides there is a period of ca. 12 hours and 25 minutes – that means that when you go really early in the water and go back again really late, you can theoretically catch tides all day long. But how does this all affect the actual surf? This also depends on where you surf. Some spots are perfect for high tide, whereas in others just the beachbreak is working. The way the low tide and the high tide influence the waves depends on the shape and position of the sandbank, the reef, or the cliffs on which the waves form and break. In surfer language these are called “beach break”, “reef break” and “point break”. If the beach drops really steeply at the shore, a so-called “shore break” appears – the waves are formed very quickly in this underwater ‘step’ and break very close to the beach. Ok, it sounds really complicated until now.

It’s ok though, at Atlantik Surf they always send you in the water at the best possible time, they explain the whole theoretical background, and they answer each one of your questions about surf theory! Other than that, there is also some technical help available. This ranges from the good old Stormrider Guide to Magic Sea Weed and Windfinder. We will go about these in the next post.

Still, one more thing needs to be said here because it’s not said often enough: *Never* go in the water on an unknown beach without before having read about the place (rocks, currents etc.). Just sit on the beach for 15-20 minutes and look at everything around. This will help you go in on the exact right spot and catch the best waves. And it will help you not to suddenly bump into a cliff point or a plague of jellyfish…Just sayin’.

Best of luck! Dominik – Over & out!

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