Posts Tagged ‘beginner’

Basics of Surfboard Design

Sunday, October 16th, 2011

Do you want to be the guy who can pick up a random surfboard, hold it at funny angles, and come to conclusions about how it will perform? Do you have a desire to make a huge mess and shape your first surfboard? If you answered yes to either question, or if you just would like to know some of the basics of surfboard design, you have come to the right place! Understanding your surfboard will help you get the most out of your time in the water, and help you push your surfing to new levels.

IMG_0435  ddd2

Rob Machado inspects an eco-friendly board shaped by Brian Syzmanski

The Supa-Basics

Nose: forward point

Tail: back of the board (where fins are placed)

Deck: top of the board where you stand

Rails: edges of the board

Foam: is the most common material for surfboard construction.

Fiberglass and resin: are the most common materials for the outerlayer of a surfboard although there are other contenders such as epoxy. This layer adds greatly to the strength and determines characteristics such as flex and durability.

Stringer: the strip of wood glued between the two pieces of foam which runs from nose to tail. One is most common number of stringers but there are variations.

The Good-Stuff

Length and width and thickness are most essentially measures of volume over space. A surfboard with more volume is typically easier to surf. This is why most soft beginner boards are long, wide and thick while pro-surfers typically ride short thin and narrow boards.

Usually more volume equates to less maneuverability, but a balance must be struck since maneuverability means nothing if you can’t catch a wave or generate speed. When you look at a surfboard’s design keep in mind that there are many different styles of surfing and levels of ability. The absolute best way to find what’s best for you is to trade boards with your friends!

Imagine tracing a surfboard’s shape onto a piece of paper, what you would be left with is a 2-dimensional outline of the board. This outline is called a template; shapers will often create templates of boards and write in other important measurements such as thickness. Templates are a good place to start when thinking about how a board will perform. Imagine how water will flow past the surface, will the water meet resistance as it pushes past the board or will the board glide with minimal resistance?

Comparing the widest point to the center of the board is a good use for a template. The further back the wide point is the more maneuverable the board will be, but with maneuverability you often forfeit predictability. This is why performance short boards often have a wide point close to the tail, while big wave guns will have it closer to the midpoint.

Maneuverability vs. predictability is a big binary in surfboard design. It comes up again when you look at the rails of a surfboard. There are two poles of rail design: hard and soft. Hard rails are rails that come to a point near the midline of rail. Soft rails come to a point below the midline (towards the bottom) of the surfboard. Hard rails are very common on long boards, they are predictable and forgiving, but they are not responsive like soft rails. Many surfboards blend the two designs.

Bottom contour is the shape of the board from rail to rail. Most commonly boards will have some concave, but they can also have a reverse concave or belly to them. A “V bottom” is similar to a belly and it means that the center of the board will be higher than the rails. Modern performance short boards often use single to double concave, with a single concave closer to the midpoint and a double concave near the fins. This design gives a healthy grip on the water for turning but not so much that you get locked into a path, aka the dreaded phenomena of “tracking”.

The nose to tail curve of a surfboard is referred to as rocker. It determines how the board will plane over the water’s surface.  If a board has a flatter rocker or no rocker it will move fast across flat sections of a wave, but it will also be less responsive in critical situations, like on a steep wave, or when turning. Keep in mind that rocker on a steep wave will keep you from nose-diving and taking a dive into the sand!

Got any home-shaped boards you’d like to share? Hit us up on Facebook!

Shakas

-Jason

The Unwritten Rules of Surfing

Thursday, January 20th, 2011
This entry is part 6 of 8 in the series Nice Rack Beginner's Guide to Surfing

You don’t drive a car without learning the road laws, just like you can’t foul indefinitely in basketball or any sport for that matter. Surfing is no different. The following explains the Rules of the Wave every beginner surfer must know to avoid severe stink-eye or possibly being put in the ‘kook’ penalty box.rules of the waves

1- Right of way: the surfer that catches a wave closest to its peak (the steepest part of the wave that is closest to the curling lip or otherwise breaking whitewater) has the right of way. So if two or more surfers are paddling for the same wave and heading in the same direction the surfer on the ‘inside’ usually has priority.* If you drop into a wave in a crowded line-up, it’s best to give a quick glance to make sure no one is behind you. If someone is in front of you then it’s customary to alert them to get off your wave by shouting a loud-owl-like ‘whooooo-oooooo’. Yelping ‘heyyyyyyy’ works fine too. My personal choice is the standard ‘yyyyyhhheeeeeeeuuuu’. Just make sure its loud enough to hear and no matter what, if you call someone off a wave you had better commit to catching it. Nothing screams Kook Alert like hesitation.

2- Paddling Out: A surfer paddling out must always yield to the surfer riding a wave, even if that means taking a lip on the head or suffering a beat down from some soupy whitewash. If its clear you can scramble to the safety of the shoulder of an oncoming wave without jeopardizing the surfer’s ride, then go for it. But the default move is to head straight for the inside of the wave towards the whitewash and let the surfer riding have the right of way to the shoulder. Nevertheless, its important to be as decisive and obvious as possible in which direction you are paddling to advise the surfer which path to take on the wave. There is nothing more frustrating then a paddling surfer ruining a wave for another by getting stuck in analysis paralysis. Pick a direction (preferably towards the inside of the wave) and stick to it.

Wilbur Kookmeyer

Wilbur Kookmeyer

3- Right or Left: When a wave breaks in both directions this is called an A-frame. To avoid confusion, call out in which direction you plan on going ahead of time. In other words, if you are paddling for the left, holler out “Going left’ loud and clear. It’s customary for surfers to ‘split’ waves when possible to allow one surfer to go right and the other left, and appreciated by everyone still waiting for a wave.

* Paddling Around: This important Code of Conduct is often ignored but equally important. Nothing irks a surfer more than getting ‘snaked’. However, just as bothersome is the Paddle-Jockey. When entering a line-up or immediately after catching a wave its good practice to position yourself further towards the rear or side of the line-up. While it generally goes unspoken, wave priority is often based on who has been in position waiting the longest. Paddling around a group of surfers to position oneself closest to the peak is the equivalent of dropping-in to most surfers, and often the source of resentment against longboarders.

Note: This rule does not apply at extremely crowded spots. Get your waves anyway possible! Nor do Brazilians typically obey regardless :)

Where Should a Beginner Learn to Surf?

Monday, May 17th, 2010
This entry is part 4 of 8 in the series Nice Rack Beginner's Guide to Surfing

Now that you’ve picked out that magic surfboard, the next choice an aspiring surfer needs to make is where to go? The answer may seem obvious, right?…just head down to the beach dummy, launch that surfboard into the water and head out, duh… Well, not exactly.

If you’ve never surfed before or you are still in the learning stages then you may need some suggestions for picking an appropriate beach to learn to surf. Let’s start by providing a simple explanation of the different types of surf breaks:

A)   Beach Breaks: Sandy bottom, typically break in shallow water close to shore. Often, these waves break best near piers or rock jetties. The shape of the wave is formed by the shifting contour of the sand below, therefore wave quality can vary greatly by season or even daily as underwater currents constantly adjust the sand’s position underneath.beach break wave A Beach Break is probably the best place for a beginner to learn to surf (initially). The shallow water makes it easy to stand when you fall off your board, and the sandy bottom usually has few hazards to step on. However, look out for swimmers! Most beaches during the summer have designated areas for swimmers only. Look for the ‘blackball flag’, and stay clear of that area. You’re a surfer now, so you gotta hang in the surf zone from here on out :) (more…)