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How to Foam Climb The Whitewash

The good ol' foam climb. It's a maneuver that tends to remain a bit below the radar but one that is highly functional when piecing together a line. To stylishly surf past the whitewash and to avoid being caught by the foam ball, every intermediate surfer should work towards mastering this fundamental turn.

Sound like you? Here is how to foam climb.

What Is a Foam Climb?

A foam climb while surfing, sometimes called a whitewash climb, is a type of maneuver performed on the whitewash of a breaking wave. As a section in front of the surfer breaks, instead of being caught behind the whitewash or attempting to pump around it, the surfer will instead climb their board on top of the foam. After riding vertically up the whitewash, they will then redirect their board onto the face using the momentum of the breaking wave to propel them back down the line.

In doing so, they will simultaneously perform a turn on an otherwise un-surfable section while entering back into the open face with speed and propulsion down the line to begin looking for the next section.

Step by Step: How to Foam Climb:

  1. Know the Section

The key in learning how to foam climb is understanding when a foam climb is applicable on a wave. The ideal section for a foam climb is when part of the wave has already crashed in front of you, leaving a gap of whitewash to surf past with an open face just beyond the whitewash. Ideally, you want to enter the foam climb as the whitewash is halfway down the face.

Riding on top of a breaking lip just before/as it crashes will require a more horizontal directional approach indicative of a floater. For in-depth advice on “How to Pull a Floater,” take a peek at the linked article.

Just as well, a wave that is fully closing out might do better with a “Closeout Re-entry.”

You want the whitewash, but you also need the wave to continue past the currently breaking section to keep surfing. Softer, mushier waves make learning how to foam climb much more manageable than steep, powerful ones.

  1. Speed is Your Friend

The ideal section to perform a foam climb might appear quickly and out of nowhere. With this, we suggest ensuring that you maintain ample amounts of speed the entire time you're surfing, as this helps keep your forward momentum going and keeps your board afloat with the power of the whitewash.

If a section in front begins to break, don't hesitate and think too long into what to do, or chances are you'll be chasing the line. Instead, immediately get it in your head that you will foam climb past it, and don't let hesitation or thought slow you down.

If you struggle with speed, visit "How to Generate Speed On a Surfboard" and work on mastering your ability to pump quickly.

  1. Deep Bottom Turn

As you eye the section in front as it breaks, utilize your speed to enter a deep bottom turn. Surf down far down into the trough, as this will promote power and speed and will allow you to flatten your board before it hits the whitewash. Dig deep into your bottom turn, and you can place your hand into the water to use it as a pivot point for a more aggressive bottom turn.

Stay low and compressed here, and aim your front shoulder towards your target as you twist and engage your hips.

A shallow bottom turn will have you too much on rail and not vertical enough, so keep it deep.

Again, try to time your bottom turn so that you begin transitioning up the face when the whitewash has broken about halfway down the wave. You need just enough open face to get your board flat as it climbs the foam. If you don't have your bottom turn down, you should surely learn "How to Bottom Turn" before learning how to foam climb.

  1. Flatten Your Board

Speaking of flattening your board, that's precisely what you want to do next. Try to center your board on the water once it is vertical and off the inside rail of your initial bottom turn. Keep it off its rails to best float on top of the whitewash.

  1. Weight on the Back Foot

As you begin to transition out of your bottom turn and flatten your board, make sure to apply pressure to the back foot, so your board's nose is lifted above the whitewash. This helps to channel the whitewash underneath your board and prevents nosediving.

  1. Throw Your Weight

With pressure on the back foot, start to decompress your body by throwing your weight up towards the whitewash as you begin to ride vertically up the breaking face.

  1. Twist Out of the Foam Climb

When your body and board have reached the top portion of the wave, you are halfway there to learning how to foam climb. Now it's time to eye your landing and surf out of the foam climb.

Don't try and overdo it, and the more 'one-motioned' your foam climb, from start to finish, the better. When you reach the endpoint, compress your body again and begin to twist and aim your board back towards the open face.

Look with your head/eyes and lead with your front shoulder as you twist your back arm around, engaging at the hips to follow with the legs. As the board begins to turn out of the foam climb, place a touch more pressure onto the front foot to help it come out of the turn.

When you've mastered the standard foam climb, you can work to add flair to this maneuver by sliding out the tail. As you come out of it, use that back foot to push your fins hard into the whitewash as your back leg extends toward the lip while keeping your body low and engaged at the torso.

  1. Ride it On Out!

As soon as you come out of the foam climb, get your board back on the rail, and immediately begin pumping. You should be able to take your forward momentum from the foam climb and use it to propel you straight back onto the line.

Start pumping, and begin to eye your next turn!