Scott, if you have experience board surfing in general, you will have a much easier time reading and navigating waves. Surfers develop those instincts gradually and painfully. Wipeouts on a sailboat though, are a much bigger concern.
The size and quality of waves vary so much from place to place, that's it's hard to generalize. But there are some ideas I've come to believe:-Remove or roll up your tramps! Make sure everything is leashed (yourself included-though some folks differ on this).
-Don't drop into any waves that don't look "way too easy" to make.
-Stay away from anything over 3' near shore and out of anything over 4' offshore. If a pin or an Aka breaks in those conditions, you are truly on your own and will need lots of skill and luck to recover in one piece.
-Learn to read the wave patterns (as in series) and to anticipate what's coming next.
-Use a partially reefed sail, (a full sail creates backwinded drag at surfing speeds and will tip you more quickly when turning).
-For shorebreak, sail parallel to the wave as it approaches (beam reach), building up speed before you turn and drop in.
-Do steer with the sail, as much as the rudder. Do not cleat the mainsheet.
-Steer as slowly and smoothly as possible, (hard in the excitement)! The faster the boat goes, the quicker the rudder reacts.
-Pedal smoothly while dropping in and then keep your mirage fins tight against the hull.
-Point as low as you can on the wave to stay clear. Anything higher than 45º puts you at risk of flipping and slows you down. Only go there when it's clear you need to exit the wave and the face oncoming surf.
-Balance your boat. Keep your body weight aft, windward and low. A TI with the crew hiking to windward on Hakas is maybe the safest Hobie wave ride we can expect.
-Have a short, stiff, T-handled paddle ready to deploy within seconds, (don't leave it tied up near the Amas).
-Watch out for and respect others who are out there surfing. You are, after all, piloting a deadly weapon.
I leave you with this thought,.. Taken this week on Oahu.