Getting barreled, also known as getting “tubed” or “shacked,” is one of the most exhilarating and sought-after experiences in surfing. When a surfer gets barreled, they ride inside the hollow, curling part of a breaking wave, which forms a tube or “barrel” around them. This manoeuvre requires skill, precision, and a deep understanding of wave dynamics.
Can you do this in Kent? Well, yes, you can; at least you can get a cover-up in certain spots in certain conditions, so knowing how to do this will make surfing fun. Local waves where this can be possible include Joss Bay within the beach break, the car park in Broadstairs, and Ramsgate Wall, to name just three, but others exist; you need to know where and the conditions.
Here are some tips to help you master the art of getting barreled:
Choose the right wave:
Look for waves with a steep, hollow face that forms a clean barrel. These waves typically break over a shallow reef or sandbar and have a well-defined peak.
Ensure you’re in the correct position to catch the wave. Paddle out to the peak and sit slightly inside the line-up so you’re close enough to catch the wave but not too close to get caught in the impact zone.
As the wave approaches, start paddling at the right moment to match its speed. Paddle hard and fast to get into the wave quickly and avoid being caught behind the breaking section.
Eye the line:
As you start to take off, look down the line of the wave to see where the barrel is forming. This will help you determine the best path to take and avoid being caught in the white water.
Angling your takeoff:
Once you’re on your feet, angle your surfboard slightly down the line of the wave so you’re not dropping straight down the face. This will help you maintain speed and control as you enter the barrel.
Compress your body:
As you enter the barrel, bend your knees and lower your centre of gravity. This will help you maintain balance and control inside the tube.
Eyes forward and steady:
Keep your eyes focused on the exit of the barrel and your body steady. Avoid looking at the lip or walls of the barrel, as this can lead to losing balance or being thrown off course.
Adjust your speed by shifting your weight forward or backwards on your surfboard. If you’re going too fast, lean back slightly, and if you’re going too slow, lean forward.
Exiting the barrel:
As the wave begins to close out, look for an exit point, and aim for it. Maintain your speed and control, and be prepared to straighten your surfboard to avoid being caught by the lip of the wave.
Practice, practice, practice:
Getting barreled takes time and experience. The more time you spend in the water, the better you’ll become at reading waves and refining your technique.
Remember that getting barreled can be dangerous, especially on bigger or more powerful waves. Always surf within your limits and be aware of your surroundings, including other surfers, rocks, and reefs. Getting covered up in Kent is difficult but not impossible; you have to be aggressive on take-off, grab the rail and take the risk.