Getting Tumbled in the Impact Zone

Ok, so I realize that not everyone reading these posts will understand the very obscure surf terminology that I use. I thought it might be beneficial to break it down so you can follow along for the next two weeks!

  • Wave: just kidding, you know what that is 😉
  • Break: when a wave folds on itself and creates a white wash
  • White Wash: The foamy part of a wave. Surfers actually try not to ride on the white wash but ride “the green” which is right before the foam.
  • The Lineup – Where the waves are breaking and surfers wait to catch one.
  • The Impact Zone: Where it’s too late to catch a wave since the wave is now white wash. However, the wave is too big and impossible to paddle over it. Thus, you must turtle roll.
  • Turtle roll: Watch video!
  • Channel: This is often left and/or right of where the waves are breaking. So if you ride a wave and need to get back to the lineup, you often swim out of the impact zone and into the channel and up to the lineup. Lots of paddling, but you’re not consistently doing turtle rolls.
  • Set: When the waves come in bunches, most times 3-6 waves are in a set.
  • Lull: The space between each set.

Alright! Now we’re all on the same page!

This morning I woke up at 4:40am to be ready for a 5am surf session. We were taking a boat out to the next bay, and we weren’t coming back until noon. Even for me, that seemed like a long morning of surfing.

After eating a filling breakfast of pancakes and oatmeal on the boat, we slathered on our sunscreen (waited the appropriate amount of time to let it soak in) and headed into the break.

I can’t decide if my pop up (the part when you stand up on the board) is a little weak because 1) I’m sore 2) the cut on my heel is still healing or 3) I just need to practice my pop ups more. Probably all three.

After riding a few good waves but with a weak pop up, I got trapped in the impact zone and couldn’t get back to the lineup. I tried to paddle my heart out to reach the channel and into calm territory, but I just kept getting hit by break after break. After two sets of getting pummeled by waves crashing over me, I was at my limit. One wave was so large that it kept me under for a long time. Like – I started panicking for air. Kind of a freaky moment.

By this point, I felt done. I was so exhausted. Every part of my body was tired, and every muscle was already sore. On top of that, I was recovering from a pretty decent sunburn from the day before.

Unfortunately, we still had about two more hours of surfing.

I headed back to the boat to grab some water and rest for a bit. It was very tempting to just chill on the boat and listen to some beachy tunes. However, after a good break, my body wasn’t tired anymore. It was simply my mind being weak. I forced myself to put my rash guard back on and get back in the lineup.

I caught three more waves with better pop ups! By that point, I could feel the sunscreen wearing off again and needed to head back to the boat. But I felt good that I won a mind battle and got back in the waves. Sometimes your mind needs to just stop being so lazy.


Hi, I’m so glad you’re on my site! My name is Meagan, and I write about my traveling adventures and finding beauty in each day. For more info about me, click here!

Meagan Tilley

I believe that every day is a day that matters – even just enjoying the little things. Whether that’s traveling to the top cities across the world or binge watching Gilmore Girls. To read more, click the About Me page!

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