Answers to surf questions

September 12, 2006

I posted about my first surfing experience last week and I have now done some research to answer the question posed there.

I found a brilliant description here, the first quarter of which I have decided to rip and post direct. It is obviously not my work but the internet is a fickle and quickly changing beast – who’s to know how long it will be there for. Anyway I strongly recommend reading the original with long descriptions of what to do during the ‘ride’, fascinating (and advanced) stuff.

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Introduction

Kayak Surfing ZoneSurfers have been taking to the waves in a variety of craft for centuries. The beginnings of board surfing is commonly known to have started in Hawaii. The beginnings of kayak surfing are shrouded in mystery.

Whilst Indians and Eskimos are typically sited as the forbears of canoeing and kayaking, it was the Polynesians that were first recorded to be surfing their war canoes in Captain Cook’s log.

Kayak Surfing as we now know it started to take shape with the advent of fiber glass canoes in the late 60s and has continued to progress alongside improvements in design and manufacture.

When out in the surf, a surfer will be looking to perform the most radical and functional ride in the most critical section of the wave.

The ride can be broken down into three sections; getting started or the take-off, the finish – end maneuver, and the bit in between – the ride. Other important aspects of surfing are the paddle out and the inevitable wipe-outs. Lets now take a look at these in turn.


Wipe Outs & the Bongo SlideWhen everything goes horribly wrong and you lose control of your craft you will wipe out. Depending on the size and nature of the wave this can be very spectacular, even painful, and may well involve lots of unintentional capsizes and cartwheels. If you don’t bail out of your boat, you’ll find your self being pushed sideways and bounced in towards the beach. This motion is known as the bongo slide, and mastering this skill is the first step towards feeling truly comfortable in the surf. To practice the bongo slide paddle out to where there are broken waves coming in at regular intervals and turn your craft so that it is sideways-on to the waves. As the water hits you, edge your craft into the wave and apply a low brace. The wave will push you sideways and bounce you towards the beach in the classic bongo slide position. If you lean forwards and apply the low brace in front of your hips the craft will tend to track in the direction in which the stern is pointing. If you lean back and apply the brace behind your hips the craft will track in the direction in which the bow is pointing. So by varying your body position you can control the angle of the craft as it slides ashore. Remember, as with all paddling techniques to practice on both sides. Once you feel confident at handling your craft in the broken water you can go out beyond the break line to the green waves.


The take off
Swells race towards the coast at incredible speeds, slowing down and increasing in size as they approach shallow water. Finally, when a swell passes over the ocean floor at a depth approximately 1.5 times its own height it will begin to break, expending much of its potential energy in the process. It is just before this point that the surfer, using self propulsion, can acquire the wave, or take-off. The take-off is therefore the entry point to a wave. Straight Take Off The easiest of the take-offs to perform. The paddler aligns them self at right angles to the approaching wave. As the wave comes up behind them they sprint forward to gain sufficient momentum to slide down the face of the wave. The steeper the wave at the moment of take of the easier the take-off is to perform. Once on the wave the surfer now starts to perform the maneuvers that will constitute the ride. If the paddler continues to run at right angles to the wave, the paddler will get a short ride as the wave will now break, and force the paddler to perform an end maneuver.

Angled Take-Off

Similar to the straight take-off, only this time the surfer is not at right angles to the approaching wave, but is instead angled to run down the face of the wave away from the shoulder.

This take off allows the surfer to move straight into a diagonal run.

Faded Take-Off

The last variation of the straight take-off is the faded take-off. This time the surfer angles the take-off, so as to move into the critical part of the wave. Enabling the surfer to correct poor initial positioning on the wave for the take off and to gain the power pocket. Once into the power pocket the surfer will need to perform a maneuver to turn away from the approaching shoulder.

Paddle Out Take-Off

The paddle out take-off allows the surfer to catch a wave at the most critical moment possible while paddling towards the break. This maneuver requires that the surfer is able to propel their craft at a reasonable speed whilst paddling out and as such is only performed by wave skis and kayaks.

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