Surfing is a sport that is often considered as much an attitude or way of life as it is a sport. Surfing is mostly enjoyed as a recreational activity, but is also a competitive sport. Surfing involves riding ocean waves with a surfboard. To catch a wave the surfer swims a ways out into the ocean lying on their stomach on the surfboard. When a wave comes the surfer aims the board into land and begins to paddle to “catch” the wave. Once the wave begins to propel the surfer, the surfer pops up from the belly and stands on the surfboard. Now the surfer rides the wave as it speeds into shore. Tricks can be performed on the board and the wave can be ridden at an angle to keep the ride going longer. The extreme side of surfing today is trying to catch the biggest wave possible. Sometimes surfers will use jetskis to pull them far out into the ocean to areas where there are giant and fast waves to catch. This sport is very dangerous as the waves can be powerful and close together. It is said that the largest wave ever surfed was 70 feet tall! Competitive surfing is a judged sport. Competitors will ride sets of waves and judges will determine who has the best score based on a number of factors including length of ride and tricks performed.
The surfboard is made out of foam covered with a fiberglass coat. The boards are made to be strong, but light. There are all sorts of surfboards including the shortboard, the longboard, the gun, the Malibu, and the fish. Each type of surfboard has unique features depending on the experience of the surfer and the type of waves and tricks that the surfer wants to ride. The front of the surfboard is called the “nose” and the back is the called the “tail”. The main top portion is the called the deck. There are also fins near the back that go down into the water. Wetsuits are used to keep warm while surfing. Most diehard surfers will want to surf at times when the weather is not warm. Wetsuits are made of a rubbery material that traps water between the material and your body. The body heat of the surfer warms up this water adding additional insulation and helping to keep the surfer warm. Surfboard wax is applied to the top of the board to keep the board from getting too slippery. You put it on before surfing usually where you will stand and where you will be gripping the side of the board with your hands. Some common Surfing Terms include:
Hang Ten: Riding a surfboard with both feet on the front of the board and all ten toes hanging off the edge.
Tube Riding: When the surfer gets into the portion of the wave where the top of the wave has curled over the rider and the surfer is now riding inside a tube of water.
Snap: When the surfer makes a quick turn right a the top of the wave.
Floater: When the surfer rides at the top of the wave. Pump: When the surfer turns back and forth into the wave to generate speed.
Cutback: When the surfer turns back into the breaking part of the wave.
Regular: Riding the surfboard with the right foot on the back and the left foot on the front.
Goofy: Riding the surfboard with the left foot on the back and the right foot on the front.