Class: Freighter Wave Surfing Class


Surfing Shilshole Bay  / Photo: Jon Kwon


We’ve surfed freighter waves on Shilshole Bay for over a decade, first on kayaks and now on SUPs. Many of our students have caught their first waves on a SUP in Seattle! Waves vary from knee to chest high and can go for over an hour after a single boat has passed. You’ll have 90% success in catching a surfable wave and a free second class if you don’t catch one.

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Surfing Shilshole Bay / Photo: Jon Kwon

Take advantage of this unique class as few other locations in the North America have this specific set-up for riding good sized waves from container ships.  If you’re tired of or don’t have time for driving to the coast for waves freighter waves will satisfy your needs!

Our patient expert instructors will work with you to teach how to paddle out over waves, choose where to take waves from and how to pick the best wave to surf for your skill level. You’ll learn how to fall safely, turn and avoid collisions with other surfers using Surfer’s Etiquette. You’ll learn about gear, clothing and how to surf in the Pacific NW.

Like any surf spot good freighter waves don’t all the time. With years of experience we’ve learned how to match the appropriate ships with specific tide levels, wind direction and wind speeds. You’ll receive a Freighter Surfing Manual to learn more about these waves and how and where to catch them on Puget Sound.

Watch a video about this class. Footage from summer 2016.

Difference Between Freighter & Tug Waves:

Freighter Wave Surfing on Shilshole Bay

Erik Gelbke Freighter Wave Surfing

– Freighter wave season is Spring to early Fall due to low tides which help the waves break. These waves break on the beach like standard ocean waves and session from one boat can last up to an hour. The boat is long gone by the time the wave arrives.

Tug waves occur in deep water with no beach and requires paddling a half mile into open water. We have a relationship with a tug company whose wave spreads out in a V shape behind the tug, starting at about 50′ from the boat. Rides can last up to a half mile. Open to kayakers, surf skis, and OC’s. Click Here to Read About Tug Wave Surfing. 


Photo: Jasmine Speaks. Rider: Jon Brown


Freighter Wave Surfing Videos:

Freighter Wave Surfing in Feb 2014 and May 2014.

Rob surfing in Ballard

Visit our YouTube page for more Freighter videos.


You’ll Learn:

– Best equipment and clothing for SUP surfing

– How & where to catch waves on Puget Sound

– How to SUP surf

– Directional control in the surf zone

– Rough water paddling techniques

– How to safely fall off your board in surf

– Bracing techniques for stability

– How to paddle out easily

– Surfer’s Etiquette

– Water safety in the surf zone

– How to surf boat wakes

– Experienced surfers – learn new tricks

Never Surfed? We’ll teach you the basics!

Experienced Surfer? We can help you improve and shorten your commute to waves.

See below for pricing…


Above video, Summer 2016




Who Should Attend? Advanced beginners (Level 1) and above. You should be comfortable paddling over boat wakes standing and paddling in wind. You should be in good physical shape as surfing can be exhausting. Recommended classes prior: SUP Basics and 1 or 2 and our SUP Sampler classes.

Already a Surfer?  These waves will keep you in shape when you can’t get to the coast. We’ve been stumped at the coast and sometimes have had better success in Seattle! Stable displacement boards welcome. If you’re a prone surfer and haven’t tried SUP we strongly recommend our SUP Basics or SUP Sampler classes to learn basic turning skills and how to do an efficient forward stroke.

FREE Follow-up Class for students who don’t catch a wave during their class.

Freighter Wave in Ballard

Renick Woods riding a nice one


Schedule: Late Winter – Fall. Dates below..

Duration: 2.5 Hours.

Class Size: 2 – 6 People  

Location: Shilshole Bay, Seattle;

Instructor to Student Ratio: 2-6



Long boarder on a freighter wave


Group Class: $135 per person. 2 – 4 students – Includes free use of rental gear – Stable board, paddle, PFD (life vest), leash, wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood.

Individual Class (1-1): $179 – Includes free use of rental gear – Stable board, paddle, PFD (life vest), leash, wetsuit, booties, gloves and hood.

Bringing your own gear?  The best SUPs for these classes are stable surf style boards as well as stable displacement boards to 17 feet. Leashes and PFDs required (Shilshole Bay is considered a flat water location by the CG). Wetsuits Fall – Spring depending on weather.

Class Dates:  Click Here for Calendar View

feb – 26 

march – 1, 3, 4, 5, 11, 12, 15, 17, 25, 26, 29, 31

april – 1, 2, 12, 26, 28, 29

may – 12, 13, 14, 17, 24, 26, 27, 28, 

june – 7, 9, 10, 11, 14, 28

July – 7, 8, 9, 12, 14, 15, 16, 21, 22, 23, 28, 29

aug – 4, 5, 6, 9, 11, 12, 13, 18, 19 20, 23, 25, 26, 27, 

sept – 2, 6, 8, 9, 10, 16, 17, 20, 22, 23, 24, 30


We can’t guarantee waves.  
Freighter waves can be fickle. On no wave days I’ll teach you the strokes we commonly use in surfing or bombproof your current skills.  Three core strokes will increase your wave count both 
here and on the coast.  We’ll cover self-rescue, water safety and rescues for rough water conditions and where to find and how to forecast tug and freighter waves.  We offer one free followup class for students who don’t catch a wave during their first class.

QUESTIONS? OR SIGN UP: / Tel 206.465.7167




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