Hey everyone, we wanted to let you know about the sport of surfing this time. Beachboppin from its start has been mainly about surfing and the beach, though now we include all different areas to do with outdoor activities, many to do with water.
We have let you know about surfing, though we want to let you know about the sport of surfing, even how some aspiring surfers can get in the sport of surfing.
A little history of surfing
Source: Orgins of Surfing
Surfing is one of the oldest practiced sports on the planet. The art of wave riding, is a blend of total athleticism and the comprehension of the beauty and power of nature. Surfing is also one of the few sports that creates its own culture and lifestyle.
The act of riding waves with a wooden board originated in Western Polynesia over three thousand years ago. The first surfers were fishermen who discovered riding waves as an efficient method of getting to shore with their catch. Eventually catching waves developed from being part of everyday work to being a pastime. This change revolutionized surfing.
There is no exact record of when stand-up surfing became a sport. It is known that during the 15th century, kings, queens and people of the Sandwich Isles were big into the sport of “he’enalu” or wave-sliding, in old Hawaiian, “He’e” means to change from a solid form to a liquid form and “nalu” refers to the surfing motion of a wave.
Early historical records of surfing appear in the late 1700s, when Europeans and Polynesians made first contact in Tahiti. Navigator Captain James Cook described how a Tahitian caught waves with his outrigger canoe just for the fun of it: “On walking one day about Matavai Point, where our tents were erected, I saw a man paddling in a small canoe so quickly and looking about him with such eagerness of each side. He then sat motionless and was carried along at the same swift rate as the wave, till it landed him upon the beach. Then he started out, emptied his canoe, and went in search of another swell. I could not help concluding that this man felt the most supreme pleasure while he was driven on so fast and so smoothly by the sea.”
The first Polynesian settlers to land in Hawaii were most likely skilled in simple surfing, and after a few hundred years of riding the waves of Hawaii, the well-known Hawaiian form of the sport emerged.
The Hawaiians who surfed, the ali’i or high class, claimed the highest reputation for skill with boards on waves. They developed their own prayers, board shapers, wood and beaches where a select few could surf with people of their talent. No one dared to drop in on their wave in fear of getting punished and possible dying. The surfboards underwent a sacred ritual before construction. Only three types of trees were picked to make a board. The board maker would dig up the tree and around the roots place fish in the hole as an offering to the gods for the tree. The process of shaping then began.
There were four basic board types used in ancient Hawaii:
– The paipo or kioe, a body board, from 2-to-4 feet long, usually used by children.
– The alaia (ah-LAI-ah) or omo (O-mo), a mid-sized board, about 8 feet or longer.
– The kiko`o, larger than the alaia, but not as big as the biggest boards; between 12 and 18 feet; good for bigger surf but requiring a high level of skill to handle.
– The olo (O-lo), a very long surfboard reserved for royalty that could be as long as 18-to-24 feet in length.
What surfing is
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 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 jet skis to pull them far out into the ocean to areas where there are giant and fast waves to catch. Many call this extreme surfing, others say it is Big Wave Surfing.
Basic Rules of Surfing and Etiquette
Priority on a wave
Always make sure that you are not taking anyone else’s wave. Remember that the surfer who is closest to the breaking wave has the priority. If you see someone already on a wave, then the wave is considered to be taken, and you’ll have to wait for the next one.
Hold or Throw your surfboard
It is important to know when to hold on to your surfboard and when to get rid of it. If you are paddling out, then you should keep hold of your surfboard despite the temptation to ‘ditch’ your board and dive under the wave. By keeping your board, you’ll get back to the lineup more quickly, and you’ll not put anyone paddling out behind you at risk. If you are about to wipe out, get rid of your board. You are far more likely to sustain an injury if you and your board are getting washed around together.
Stay within your Comfort Zone
You should only ever surf in waves that you are comfortable with. Don’t get in over your head, and remember the phrase “If in doubt, stay out”.
Surf Conditions Make sure that the surf is safe on your chosen beach before you go in. If you are going surfing at a spot you are unfamiliar with it, is a good idea to get some advice from a local…particularly when you are learning to surf. It is often a good idea to check out the surf spot whilst warming up.
Rips (tides and currents)
If you are caught in a rip, remember that there is no need to panic. Surfers use rips every day to their advantage, and as long as you understand how they work and know how to easily escape on there is no need for concern. Hopefully you already know that a rip is a strong current that (normally) goes straight out to sea. If you find yourself in a rip, you should paddle across the rip (not against it) until you have escaped to where the waves are better breaking.
If you are surfing on a lifeguard patrolled beach, make sure that you keep within the designated surfing area. Remember, you should never surf between the red and yellow flags. This area is designated for swimmers only. Take note of where you should be surfing before you go out, and make sure you stick to it when you are out.
For those that have been surfing for a while, they are very aware of how much stronger the sun can be in the ocean due to the UV reflection. If you are not wearing a wetsuit, it is a good idea to wear a UV-proof long sleeve rash vest for body protection.
As you have seen us say about when on the beach in the hot sun, the same for surfing. Surfing under the influence of alcohol is not a good idea. Save the drinking for the after-surf session at your local where you can tell everyone just how many barrels you got earlier.
Be Aware of others
Be aware of other surfers and water users, and of where you are surfing. When you are learning to surf, it is easy to drift into areas which you have not planned for and which may not be suitable for your ability. Keep an eye out for others whilst in the water and remember to be friendly to everyone!
Make sure you are physically fit when surfing. You need to be able to swim back to shore if you lose your board at the end of an exhausting session – no mean feat in a 6ft swell.
As with swimming, do not go surfing for at least 45 minutes after a meal. You can easily get a cramp, and this will impact on your ability to surf and stay safe.
If you want to improve then you need to be in the water surfing as regularly as possible. No one gets better at anything by staying out of the water or book a surfing lesson at your local Surfing school.
Bring a Friend
Always surf with at least one other person. Not only will you have more fun if you are sharing your waves, but you’ll always have someone to help you out if you need it.
Warm-up as for any activity
Always have a quick warm-up and stretch before entering the surf. This will reduce the risk of muscle injury or cramp while you’re surfing. It also gives you time to check for any rips or where the best spot to learn to surf is.
Respect the locals
Respect the locals if you are visiting a beach. Remember that you are a guest and that waves should be shared.
Surfing is all about having fun; keep it in mind when you are out in the waves.
Becoming a competitive and pro surfer
Here is what we were getting to. This is for those that surf, though want to be a competitive or pro surfer. This is where you learn the sport of surfing.
It looks like a great profession what with all the travel, great waves, and other perks. And pro surfing is all that, but it’s also a job with honest to goodness hard work, effort, and planning involved, again, a lot of hard work. If you are one of the chosen few who get recognized for your prodigious talent along the way and are taken in and groomed, many of the difficult aspects of your career will be planned by others and many of your interests will be looked after.
First, start entering local surfing competitions, this is your amateur stage. Keep practicing a lot and learn from others at the competitions you enter. Then, spread out on your entering competitions, just don’t enter only your local surfing competitions, enter some in other areas away from your local area. You will learn a tremendous amount when doing this, so listen, observe, and learn. Be very humble, as this helps, you do not know it all.
The WSL and the WCT
The main surf competitions are organized by the World Surf League (WSL). Surfers that are part of this organization are competing for money prizes. There are two circuits: The World Championship Tour (CT) which is the highest-level circuit; think competitors like Kelly Slater, Mick Fanning, Coco Ho and Carissa Moore. Then there is the minor circuit, the World Qualifying Series (QS). Ultimately, the goal is to compete in the CT circuit. In the Championship Tour (CT), there are 34 surfers in the men’s division and 17 in the women’s, including the wildcards.
Wildcard: surfers who are chosen to compete alongside the CT surfers in a single CT event. Typically, candidates for the event wildcard will come from the event sponsor’s team, the local area, or both. Not only do these surfers complete the seed list and/or fill in for injured surfers, but they also bring exciting new faces and challenges to the CT elite.
To enter the CT circuit the surfer must qualify by making points in the QS circuit. Each year, there’s a competition calendar (which is more or less the same every year) and so the competitors can decide which events to attempt depending which ones they can attend. Obviously, injuries, commitments or financial restraints can play a part in which events an athlete can travel to, leaving athletes at a disadvantage.
At every QS competition, competitors gain points depending on their ranking.
The QS are divided in different point systems; some competitions give more points than others but are obviously more difficult to enter. Any surfer that pays his or her membership of the WSL and their inscription can compete to the QS 1000 and 1500.
Once you start making enough points in those events, you can compete in the QS 3000.
Then, if you have enough points, you can do the QS 6000 and finally if you’re doing good enough you can enter those prime events of 10 000.
You’ll have guessed that the numbers are due to the amount of points that the winner gets and so the more points you can gain, “the more level there is”.
So, let’s say a surfer wins a QS 10 000, he’ll get a much better ranking than the one winning a QS 1000. You’ll also guess that the more QS competitions a surfer attempts, the more points he’s going to accumulate.
At the end of the year, the surfers are ranked based on the total of points they gained throughout the year.
The International Surfing Association (ISA)
There are also competitions organized by the International Surfing Association (ISA) that aren’t for money prizes but for medals for the country. For example, the World Surfing games is a competition that take place every year in a different country (this year it is going to be in Playa Jaco, Costa Rica from August 6th to 14th). Each country that is part of the ISA association can send a team (4 men, 2 women) and the surfers are competing for their country. This is a good opportunity for surfers to get known and get sponsored.
In the Water: Heats, Judges and Scores: How does it work?
Regardless if it’s a WQS, a WCT or a ISA competition, it works more or less the same way. Basically, there are heats that the surfer needs to pass in order to move on to the next round.
A heat consists of 2 to 4 surfers at the same time in a pre-determined competition zone. Surfers have between 20 to 30 minutes (the duration of the heat depends on the type of competition) to catch the best waves possible. Every wave they catch is rated on a ten-point scale by a panel of judges and only the two best waves of each surfer is counted, giving them a score on 20. So, if a surfer gets a 20/20 it would mean that he had two perfect waves and he’s doing great.
The surfers that get the best results get to move on to the next round. And so on, until the finals. When it’s a heat of 4 surfers, the 2 first one gets to go to the next round. When it’s a men to men heat (2 surfers), the first one moves on and the second gets eliminated.
The wave scoring is done with five quality levels in mind: 0-1.9 (Poor), 2-3.9 (Fair), 4-5.9 (Average), 6-7.9 (Good), 8–10 (Excellent). The judges analyze the following major elements when they are evaluating a surfer’s wave:
- Commitment and degree of difficulty
- Innovative and progressive maneuvers
- Combination of major maneuvers
- Variety of maneuvers
- Speed, power and flow
You’ll understand that the surfers need to choose their waves wisely because it’s not about the quantity of wave they catch but the quality.
Dropping-in, Interference and Tactics
If ever a surfer drops in on someone (there’s another surfer catching the wave on the inside or while having priority), the judges take away half of the points of its second-best wave. We call that “interference”. Sometimes, the surfer that is losing the heat can try to make his rival do an interference in order to make him lose points. Surf contests are a dice game. The best surfer doesn’t always come out with the trophy because there are too many variables at stake. There’s a lot of heat tactics that surfers can use so it’s not just about being a good surfer, they also need to be super competitive!
Traits of Pro Surfers
Most the top tier surfers on the ASP World Championship Tour (WCT) have been winning junior pro events, being sent on photo trips to exotic locales, and surfing alongside legendary mentors since before high school.
Curren, Parko, Slater, Taj, Andino, John John Florence were all talents that were identified and cultivated many years before they could drive. So, really be honest with yourself before making any decisions that may haunt you later. Though, do not let it dissuade you either.
No matter how mellow and chill all these surfers look on the beach and in photos, a successful pro surfer must have the potential to hassle for waves in crowds of other world class surfers and gnarly locals in order to win or get the money shot. Some surfers claim they just paddle out and go surfing like some guru medicine man, but the reality is that a professional surfer, no matter how talented, must be willing to go face to face with another competitor and even risk confrontation in order to win. This is no different then any other professional athletes. They all have a competitive character when they are pro, really, they must.
Relentless ripping is no longer the only job for a pro surfer. This is the era of Target and Nike and 24-hour, 7-day coverage of everyone’s personal business. That means that you are on stage all the time, and you are often asked to make appearances and attend sponsored events as part of your contract. You will be expected to smooze with fans and industry dignitaries all the while cell phone cameras are rolling. It demands social stamina and is no life for an introvert.
Today’s athletes are working with trainers, eating right, and incorporating fitness regimes into their surf routines. This doesn’t mean that pro surfers don’t party. The pro tour is notorious for its raging extravaganzas, but the level of fitness needed to perform in venues like Pipeline and Sunset and J-Bay is higher than ever, and most surfers are pushing themselves harder than ever to get a piece of ever increasing prize money.
The bottom line is that a career in pro surfing isn’t for everyone. Only a few dozen people are pulling it off, and many of them won’t have much left over when it’s all done. But just trying could be one of the greatest journeys of your life.
Do you aspire of being a Pro Surfer?