Surfing is an interesting and challenging sport. It requires knowledge of the waves, types of board, their maintenance, great balance skills, and awareness once you crash into the waves, so you don’t hopefully lose the best board you bought. How do surfers not lose their boards? Let’s find out!
Learning all of this takes time and practice, as with any type of sport. However, surfers face another challenge on how not to lose their boards, and the smart ones use a leash. But learning more about surfing, the equipment, and its maintenance is another way for the surfer to become more aware of their surroundings and appreciative of equipment.
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History of Surfing
The story of surfing began in the Hawaiian Islands hundreds, and perhaps thousands of years earlier. At that time it was a noble occupation, available to a select few. Hawaiian kings and queens also ruled the summit on the water as well as on land. They did everything possible to make surfing their exclusive privilege and that this entertainment was not only available to mortals.
Attempts by ordinary people to break into what was considered the property of kings were brutally punishable by death. The first surfboards were made of solid wood, and this art was possessed only by a narrow circle of initiates.
The Hawaiian royal population was only able to afford to ride the waves on surfboards on a large scale. They had their priests who called for big waves and their shapers. The giant planks on which the kings rode (there were three species for different conditions) ranged in length from 9 to 18 feet (2.7-5.5 m) and were so heavy that they remained on the beach – no one wanted to carry them home and back, and even more, no one could just steal them. Competitions were regularly held in which violent fights broke out. Hundreds of spectators gathered on the beach betting on the winners.
The appearance of white people in Hawaii with their harsh Christian dogma almost led to the death of surfing, which lost its nobility and reputation. Surfing was part of traditional Hawaiian culture and for this reason, piously timid adherents of Christianity have declared a devilish occupation that deserved persecution and censorship.
In the 19th century, interest in surfing declined significantly. The sport almost completely disappeared in Tahiti and New Zealand, but it continued to exist in Hawaii. The reason for this decline was the appearance of foreigners on the islands, who brought with them their culture, traditions, and habits, including sports.
In the period from 1895 to 1899, one of the most experienced surfers was considered the Hawaiian Princess Kaiulani. She rode on long surfboards made of fork-fork trees. Princess Kaiulani was the last spokeswoman for Waikiki’s old surf school. Being the nephew of King Kalakaua and Queen Litimo Kalani, as well as the daughter of Governor Archibald Klegorn and Princess Miriam Likelik, she left Hawaii and went to England to receive a valuable education. At the end of her studies, she traveled with her father on a trip around Europe. Society admired her as a good linguist, musician, artist, horseman, surfer, and swimmer. She often showed Europeans how to ride surfboards, opening up a “new” sport to them.
Continuing its development, the history of surfing experienced a real renaissance in the five years from 1903 to 1908. At this time, surfing was warmly supported by many enthusiasts, one of whom was Duke Kahanamoku.
Duke Kahanamoku was a two-time Olympic swimming champion, coincidentally the mind had to give up the 1924 Johnny Weismuller title. Kahanamoku was also a fan of surfing to Waikiki. He became a true ambassador of the Hawaiian people (Hawaii was not yet part of the United States at the time), bringing Hawaiian culture to the continent of surfboards.
In the summer of 1915, he arrived in Sydney, stopped at Freshwater Beach, and began surfing, becoming a trendsetter in the sport. Many curious ones moved in the strange amusement of a stranger. One day, Duke took with him a woman with whom he rode a surfboard in tandem. So, the world’s first female surfer became the Australian Miss Isabel Team.
Coming towards more contemporary times, the development of the surfboard had its ups and downs. After the World Wars, the expansion of the surfboards had another renaissance period, and it has been growing ever since. Different materials and modern techniques allow any new and old surfer to choose from depending on the desired style, length of the board, etc.
How to Choose a Proper Surfing Board?
The first thing a beginner learns in surfing lessons is not the ocean at all, but the board. In the initial stages, the training takes place on special training boards – soft-tops. They are large, forgive a lot of mistakes, and at the same time safe because they are covered with a soft rubberized material. As you progress, surfers switch to “real” solid surfboards.
Tip: On the occasion that skimboarding, a close relative to surfing has your attention, consider learning more about skimboards and the practice itself.
Anatomy of the Board
The general shape of the board is very important to understand, as the differences in shape are used for different waves, speeds, etc. Learning about these varieties can help you understand the physics of surfing and allow you to theoretically overcome the fear. Additionally, by using practical knowledge you should easily master staying on the board once you hit the waves.
The nose, that is, the front of the plate can be anything, from rounded wide to pointed sharp. The width of the nose adds volume to the boards, which makes raking easier on the wave, but complicates the turns. A light narrow nose, on the other hand, allows you to maneuver sharply, but it is harder to catch waves with it. Roughly speaking, the wider the nose, the more stable the board, the narrower and more agile.
The back of the board is also wide or narrow, but there are many more shape options. There are sharp, round, square tails, rounded squares (squash), and even double tails. The wider the tail, the better the wave pushes it, which means it is easier to generate speed on the board. In this case, the rule for relatively sharp angles is simple: the more rounded the shape, the smoother the corners will be. The square tail allows you to “plank” the board, ie perform very sharp maneuvers, and the round, on the contrary, smooths the movements. The suspended spike (Pintail) slows down the plate a bit, thanks to the shape that holds it to the wave, it is difficult to maneuver, but it is easy to keep track of. The swallowtail is the most interesting. It is wide and it accelerates well, but at the same time, it acts like two pints: the plate travels stably along the wall thanks to one of the pointed edges, and when pintail turns abruptly, it simply switches to the other.
Rocker is bending the board from nose to tail, dividing it into the tail and nasal, as they can be different sizes and affect the behavior of the board in different ways. A sharp bend, on the nose and tail, gives the board agility. At the same time, a small bow backpack adds restraint. This makes raking easier, but a flat racker on the tail allows you to raise your speed better.
The rail is the shape of the cross-section of the plate on the side edge, it is, roughly speaking, the shape of the side. The rails are rigid, with a sharp edge and soft, rounded. The principle of operation is the same as with the tail, the more rounded the shape, the more evenly it moves along the surf wave. The soft rail is wrapped with water, and the board runs steadily straight. The sharp edge of a hard fence, by contrast, pushes water, and the maneuvers are sharper.
The most noticeable part of the plate design is the shape of the bottom. At first glance, it seems flat, but in fact, it has small depressions, concave, which are guides for the flow of water under the plate. The concave can be flat (single concave), then the water flows just below the board along its length. Sometimes it is double-capped (single to double concave), and the water comes out from under the tail of the plate on two sides. Direct concavity contributes to extensive speeds, while forklifts improve handling and make turns more powerful.
Really, How Do Surfers Not Lose Their Boards?
For a comfortable ride at sea, you will need the following:
- a paddle – Beginners should choose a paddle that will be 20-25 cm higher than its height.
- a leash – a safety cable attached to the leg in case of falling off the board so as not to float in an unknown direction.
- a cover for the plate – to avoid damage during transport, which will affect its characteristics.
Before buying a leash, make sure that it is not delivered in a package!
Interesting tip: Did you know you can use surf wax on a snowboard?
The Reason Behind This
Many surfers will wear a leash to the waves because it is the safest way to stay connected to the board. It is connected to the board at one end, and on the other, there is a velcro cuff attached to the surfer’s ankle. This ensures that when you fall off the board it will not float away.
The force of gravity will always pin the board to the surface. This can be another great benefit, as they are made to distribute their weight on the water surface. Now, the leash helps keep track of the board, it does not impact how you balance and stay on the board itself.