Strength-Building Exercises: Off Board

Every surfer knows that getting out on the blue and missing a wave is not very fun. More of an embarrassment actually and when it happens you look around meekly, sitting on the board to see who might have seen you. Then finally you have to paddle back out. Know why you missed that wave? Because your legs and core probably weren’t strong and fast enough.

Surfing isn’t only about skill and technique, it is also about strength. Explosive strength. The kind of strength that is made by stimulating those fast twitch muscle fibers. Besides making it easier to catch waves a good strength and conditioning program will help you to recover faster from time out on the board.

The key is to train like an athlete and not an over swollen muscle builder to maintain flexibility. There are three things that are paramount for surfing workouts. One, it has to develop those powerful legs. Two, you need core strength to make it easier to stay on the board once your legs get you there and lastly, muscular endurance to be able last the long day on the board.

A great method for developing all of these is by working out with kettle bells doing cleans, snatches, swings and presses. Dumbbells can also be used but when available go with the kettle bells.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Surfboard

Skill Level

First thing you must consider is your surfing skills. Be honest about your skill assessment since some boards are easier on the learning curve.

If you are just starting out, a longboard or foamie / softboard would be ideal. This kind of board offers the best stability. Though they are not as maneuverable, but that should not be you concern if you are just starting out.

For intermediate surfers, you can now select a wider range of surfboards. A good addition to you choices is fish surfboards and shortboards.

Expert to professional levels have the enough skill required that they can experiment with different kinds of boards to optimize their natural abilities.

Weight Factor

Another thing to consider is you actual weight. You weight has a direct effect on how the surfboard affects the water. The general idea is that the more you weight, the thicker and wider your surfboard should be.

Height Factor

Choosing the right surfboard for you is also largely dependent on your height. As the height becomes taller, the surfboard also needs to be longer. As a good rule of thumb, the surfboard should be at least a foot longer than your actual height. Though surfers with intermediate skills and above can safely break this rule.

Tide Charts

“Tides” refer to the changing levels of the sea, caused by the gravitational forces of the Moon and Sun and the rotation of the Earth. People have been trying to predict tides since Selecucus of Seleucia first tied them to the Moon in the 2nd century B.C. Surfers are one of the largest groups to benefit from improvements in tide chart technology. These charts show the daily times for high water and low water on a given day for a given location. For estimating the heights at intermediate times, surfers can use the rule of twelfths. Wikipedia states that: The rule assumes that the rate of flow of a tide increases smoothly to a maximum halfway between high and low tide before smoothly decreasing to zero again and that the interval between low and high tides is approximately six hours. The rule states that in the first hour after low tide the water level will rise by one twelfth of the range, in the second hour two twelfths, and so on according to the sequence – 1:2:3:3:2:1.

The Internet has made it easier than ever to find accurate charts. The United States National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration posts US charts online at http://tidesandcurrents.noaa.gov/. For Canadian tables, visit http://www.waterlevels.gc.ca/english/Canada.shtml. For UK tables, visit http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/coast/tides/

Other countries, including Germany and the Netherlands, also post tables online, but you’ll have to be proficient in their respective languages to understand them. The best bets for other locations are local newspapers and tide prediction software. XTide is one such piece of software, a “harmonic tide clock and tide predictor.” Good luck, and have fun out on the waves.

The History of Surfing

The first references to surfing come from the pre-Incan culture in Peru, which built a special boat known as the caballito de totora. However, the Hawaiians are generally considered the culture that has contributed the most to surfing’s history.

In the ancient Hawaiian culture, surfing was considered an art, and referred to as he e’ nalu, or “wave sliding.” Surfing was prefaced with prayer first for strength to challenge the ocean, and then, if necessary, kahunas (priests) would pray for killer waves. The priests also played a part in constructing the surfboards. Surfers would choose from the koaulu, or wiliwili trees, digging out their choice and “placing fish in the hole as an offering to the gods.” (Wikipedia) Craftsman then shaped the boards into one of three shapes the thick ‘olo which narrowed toward the edges, the lengthy, 12-18 foot kiko’o, and the 9-foot-long alaia. These early surfers would test their skills in some of the same sites that modern athletes still ride, including Kahalu’u Bay and Holualoa Bay.

Surfing in Hawaii and the Polynesian islands diminished in the 19th century when missionaries discouraged the practice. However, the art obviously survived. Public opinion started shifting in 1907 when George Freeth was brought from Hawaii to California to demonstrate surfing at a railroad opening. In 1912, James Matthias Jordan, Jr. surfed along the coast of Virginia Beach, which now hosts the East Coast Surfing Championships. Duke Kahanamoku of Hawaii was largely responsible for surfing’s international acclaim, including introducing it to Australia.

The 1960s saw a boom in surfing popularity, thanks to the novel Gidget and adaptations, surf music by bands like the Beach Boys and the Surfaris, and the popularity of California culture in films like the classic Beach Party series. Surfers were cliché characters by the 1980s, as evidenced by Sean Penn’s portrayal of Jeff Spicoli in 1982′s Fast Times at Ridgemont High. During the 1990s, professional surfing became a popular and financially successful enterprise, and today surfers enjoy a popularity akin to that of athletes in many other sports.

Plan Your Next Surfing Adventure

The key to a great surfing experience is a great surfing location. While this may seem obvious, it can take a good amount of dedication and time to track down the perfect wave and you have to be ready for it when it comes. When you’re confident enough in your skills to put them to the test, check out our list of the top surfing locations in the world.

  1. Mentawai Islands, Indonesia: While most people will stop at Sumatra, the real action is off the coast in this chain of islands, which block the best waves from ever reaching the Sumatran mainland. The four main islands to check out are Siberut, Sipora, and North and South Pagi. The best times for travel are from March to October, with the biggest waves occurring between June and September.
  2. Oahu’s North Shore, Hawaii: The Banzai Pipeline and Waimea Bay are two surfing locations that have been immortalized in popular culture, and they’re both located here on the North Shore. Hawaii is also inextricably tied with surfing’s origins, and even British explorer Captain Cook noted it upon his travels there in the 1770s. The biggest waves come during the winter.
  3. Lennox Point, Australia: Recognized as a National Surfing Reserve by National Surfing Reserves Australia and the NSW Department of Lands, Lennox Head is a beautiful seaside village regularly sought out by surfers of ever skill level. The most famous spot is Lennox Point, which boasts a spectacular righthand break. Hang-gliders also seek out the spot as a launching point.
  4. California: California is considered the best choice of the relatively few options in North America. The biggest waves can be found in the winter, especially at Maverick’s, located a half-mill off-shore from the Pillar Point Harbor. Waves here hit an average of 25 feet and have been known to reach 80 feet. Other popular spots include Steamer Lane, Rincon, and Half Moon Bay.
  5. Bali, Indonesia: Popular surfer Rob Barber called Bali his “personal favorite” spot due to its reef breaks and warm water. The warmth can be attributed to the active volcano (Mount Agung) located in the archipelago. Bali is the most popular tourist destination in Indonesia.

Best Surf Songs

At the same time that surf culture started gaining popularity in Southern California, a new sound began emerging in the local music scene. Since most of the musicians were surfers, anyway, the name “surf music” was an obvious choice for the new genre. The first entries into the genre were dance instrumentals, with medium-to-fast tempos and an emphasis on electric guitar. The “wet” spring reverb feature, which started appearing on Fender amplifiers in 1961, was thought to mimic the sound of waves, and was also a consistent feature of surf music.

Guitarist Dick Dale is credited with starting things off with his 1961 hit “Let’s Go Trippin’,” which was later covered by The Beach Boys on their 1963 album Surfin’ USA. However, Dale would become even more popular with his 1962 rendition of the Greek song “Misirlou.”

Other instrumental groups who emerged in the early 1960s include The Bel-Airs, The Challengers, and Eddie & the Showmen. The Chantays released the top 10 hit “Pipeline” in 1963, and the genre-defining “Wipe Out” was released by the Surfaris in 1963. This song, known for its opening “Ha ha ha ha hawipe out!” and drummer Ron Wilson’s solos, swept the nation and has been covered numerous times since then including by Animal of the Muppets.

Of course, instrumental songs weren’t the only classic tunes in the genre. The other side of the coin was known as “vocal surf pop,” and is best represented by a little group known as the Beach Boys. These songs featured surfing, girls, and cars as popular subjects, and were based around classic rock and roll, doo wop, and vocal pop by groups like the Four Freshmen.

The Beach Boys first charted with “Surfin’” in 1962, but their later material left their classic surfing themes behind. Coincidentally, the Beach Boys were the only surf group to survive the British Invasion in 1964. However, there were plenty of acts that burst onto the scene for a short period beforehand, including Ronny & the Daytonas (“G.T.O.”), the Rip Chords (“Hey Little Cobra”), and Jan & Dean (whose song “Surf City” reached number 1, and was co-written by the Beach Boys’ Brian Wilson).

Instrumental surf rock provided the background for many spy movies in the 1960s, including the James Bond series, and influenced later musicians, including Keith Moon (The Who), East Bay Ray (Dead Kennedys), and Joey Santiago (Pixies). Dick Dale once again came to prominence with the release of Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (1994), which featured his version of “Misirlou” in the opening credits.

Famous Faces of the Surfing Community

Surfing has become a contest between snarling hydrological monsters and the legendary men who tame them with style and grace.

Kelly Slater

Many consider Kelly Slater to be the greatest surfer who has ever lived and it would be hard to argue since Kelly has been crowned the Association of Surfing Professionals World Champion 10 times and has a history of tournament wins that is mind boggling. Kelly has a natural style that makes even the impossible look easy.

Laird Hamilton

Although Laird had always shunned competitive surfing his name stands out like a beacon on the sea as the very best big wave surfer on the planet. Laird once had a career as a male model, he was the innovator of tow-in surfing and has rode the heaviest wave ever ridden on the reef break at Teahupo, Tahiti.

Rob Machado

Rob Machado is known as Mr. Smoothy for his laid back style both on land and on the water. Machado has 12 career WCT victories and has been in the top ten eleven years in a row and was inducted into the Surfers Hall of Fame. Rob is perhaps the sports greatest ambassadors, travelling the world to promote surfing.

Surfer Inspiration: Kelly Slater

If you’ve followed surfing at all in the last twenty years, and maybe even if you haven’t, you’ve heard the name Kelly Slater. Usually, the name is associated with a number. For example, he holds the record for number of ASP World Championships won (10), youngest surfer to win (age 20, 1992), and oldest surfer to win (38, 2010).

In 2005, he was the first surfer awarded two perfect scores in the ASP system, and he is the all-time leader in career event wins since winning the Boost Mobile Pro event in 2007. However, Slater is so much more than a collection of numbers. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to introducing the sport of surfing to a wider audience and to conserving the oceans which provide him with his livelihood. In the service of the first goal, Slater has appeared in numerous film, television, and musical projects. He appeared in 10 episodes of Baywatch as Jimmy Slade and more recently, an episode of the reality television show The Girls Next Door. In addition, he’s appeared in several “surf films,” from Kelly Slater in Black and White (1991) to Ultimate Wave Tahiti (2010).

Slater has also performed in a band unsurprisingly called the Surfers, and performed with artists Ben Harper and Pearl Jam. He also appeared in the music video for Garbage’s 1999 single “You Look So Fine,” from their 1998 album Version 2.0. The surfer’s other appearances on the screen have been a little more animated. He first appeared as a playable character in the 2001 game Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3, and then as the star of the 2002 game Kelly Slater’s Pro Surfer, developed by Treyarch (who also developed Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater and Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 2 for the Dreamcast). The similarities between these games were useful for drawing in fans of skateboarding while also demonstrating the unique aspects that surfing offers.

Kelly’s other passion, ocean conservation, is supported through a collaboration with Reefs Neck, which protects temperate reefs in the oceans off California. More of his personal philosophy and autobiography can be found in his two books, 2003′s Pipe Dreams: A Surfer’s Journey and 2008′s Kelly Slater: For the Love(written in conjunction with Phil Jarratt).Of course, when Slater hits the waves, all of the above is just background. His style is built on speed and energy, but he also incorporates plenty of air and barrel maneuvers to keep things interesting.

Slater has been sponsored by surfing giant Quiksilver since the early 1990s, and rides Channel Islands surfboards with his own brand of FCS fins. On land, Slater has also had another sponsor Bill Posey, Florida House Representative, who in 2010 sponsored a resolution honoring Slater for his “outstanding and unprecedented achievements in the world of surfing and for being an ambassador of the sport and excellent role model.” The resolution was passed unanimously by a voice vote.

Taking a Look at Popular Surfing Magazines

There are several popular surfing magazines that one might find when they’re not catching a wave at Mavericks or Bells Beach. The aptly named Surfing Magazine first ran in December 1964, and continues to see a strong monthly release. It is perhaps best known for the special issues that it runs on an annual basis. These include a special feature on International Surfing Day.

Surfer is another magazine that doesn’t try to get too fancy with the name. John Severson founded the magazine in 1959, and his photography was something of a trendsetter in the surf media industry. The whole story can be found on Lunasurfshop’s Blog. There is still a lot of respect for the publication today, and many have considered it a premier magazine. A good portion of this comes from the fact that it reads like a forum for surfing culture.

Transworld Surf also has a strong following and has the advantage of being part of a family of other extreme sports magazines. Along with skateboarding, snowboarding and motocross, the Transworld series carries top content about the latest in each aspect of the surfing community. Regardless of which surfing magazine a person reads, however, one of the main things to watch out for are the awesome images that they will be treated as soon as they open the cover.

Big Waves on the Big Screen: Best Surfing Movies

When it comes to surfing movies, there are a few classic films that have truly been able to capture the essence of this sport. There cannot be an article on surfing movies at least without the mention of the original surfing classic, “The Endless Summer”. This was the first movie to truly depict the surfing lifestyle instead of just depicting surfing as a dangerous water sport as it detailed the strenuous process of not only surfing the waves but finding that perfect wave to ride.

Nineties’ films “The Green Iguana” and “Momentum” provided a more realistic look at surfing culture, surfing teams and most importantly the impressive tricks and stunts performed by some of the world’s best surfers. “Momentum” even featured a then relatively unknown Kelly Slater as he performed some of his never-before-seen skateboarding inspired tricks on some truly treacherous looking waves. These films showed audiences something most people had not seen before and that is the danger, dedication, and athleticism involved in professional surfing, and showed these images in a raw gritty manner that captivated viewers.

Finally, there is “Stranger Than Fiction” that is similar in fashion to “Momentum” only without Kelly Slater, this movie, shot in amazing quality was released in 2008 and showed some of the most gravity defying and impressive surfing tricks ever attempted in the sport.

How the Surfing Culture Uses Modern Technology

Surfing is the ultimate thrill for some who desire to take on one of the most awesome forces of nature on the planet Earth, the ocean. The ocean is a fickle and somewhat harsh mistress. One minute she can caress you with soft waves and the next carry you off to a watery grave.

If you are out there on the beach looking for the perfect wave, you owe it to yourself to have the best technology the world can provide you to help you in your search. Satellite internet helps surfers keep track of weather conditions and provides a means of communication outside of mobile phone coverage areas. However, surfers haven’t always had access to such impressive technology.

Well known for their love of both the beach life and the ocean, surfers have been with us since the early 20th century. The surf culture started to spread through the 1950′s and has continually adapted and evolved into what we see today. Surfers who were looking to bring their surfing experience on land created the skateboard. Skateboarding has become very popular with both surfers and non-surfers alike and the skateboarding industry generates an average of 5.7 billion dollars in revenue each year. Quite an impressive accomplishment considering it all started with one man, one board, and one desire to surf on land.

Today, surfers, skateboarders, and other athletes use the internet to communicate with each other across the world. Satellite internet can reach parts of the world where cable is unavailable. Coincidentally, those may be some of the best places for catching a wave.

Familiarize Yourself with These Surfing Terms

Surfing has its own language, and understanding specific terms is imperative to a safe and smooth ride. Before paddling out, be sure to know at least a handful of these important terms.

Air/aerial: riding the board into the air and then landing back on the wave.

Caught inside: a surfer who cannot get through the surf to reach the wider ocean.

Carve: a turn.

Closeout: A wave or large section of a wave that breaks at the same time, making it impossible to surf the open face.

Cutback: a turn back toward the breaking wave.

Deep: The steepest part of the shoulder closest to the peak of a wave.

Down the line: Along the face of the wave.

Drop in: the act of entering the wave.

Duck dive: A technique used to paddle out past a breaking wave. Use your arms to push the nose of the surfboard down while the knee pushes town on the tail.

Face: The open, unbroken part of a wave.

Goofy foot: standing with your left foot in the back.

Green wave: An open wave which allows the surfer to ride along the face.

Grom/Grommet: a young surfer.

Hang ten: putting five toes over the nose; also see “hang five.”

Hang loose: the meaning of the classic surfer hand signal (thumb and pinkie up, middle three fingers down); means either “catch that wave” or “well done.”

Kick out: To end your ride by surfing out the wave.

Kook: unskilled surfer wannabe.

Lineup: The area where waves normally begin breaking. This is the place where surfers sit on their boards to wait for rides.

Off the hook: refers to a good surf spot.

Over the falls: when a surfer falls off and is carried in a circular motion by the wave lip.

Peak: The immediately breaking part of the wave.

Pearl: accidentally pushing the nose underwater.

Pop-up: jumping up on the board from a lying-down position.

Re-entry: hitting the lip and dropping back into the wave.

Shoulder: The unbroken section of the wave directly next to the peak.

Snake: a surfer who steals a wave from another surfer.

Stall: to slow down by shifting weight or putting your hand in the water.

Switchfoot: being able to surf regular foot or goofy foot.

Tube riding: riding within the curl of a wave.

Turtle roll: A technique used to paddle a board past a breaking wave. The surfer turns upside-down and propels the surfboard through the breaking wave.

Wipe Out: a surfing accident; immortalized in the Surfaris 1963 song of the same name.