Surfing is a water sport in which a person rides on waves using a floating apparatus called a surfboard. This sport originated in Hawaii and nobles were already practicing this form of recreation when Captain Cook discovered the islands in the late 1700’s. The surfboards used at that time were heavy, often weighing as much as 150 pounds, and ranged from 14 to 18 feet in length. The sport was introduced to Australia and the United States in the early 1900’s but it was slow to gain in popularity because of the size and weight of the boards.
In surfing, the surfer watches the waves and attempts to match the speed of a wave he/she sees coming by paddling and sometimes by being towed by a boat. Once the surfer starts to move forward on the wave, he then stands on the surfboard and prepares to ride the face of the wave, while trying to stay ahead of the breaking part of the wave.
Surfers test their skills in challenging conditions and use various maneuvers such as turning and carving. There is a specific terminology associated with surfing with terms such as cutback, where a surfer will turn the board back towards the wave. Some other examples of this terminology are:
- Natural foot – the right foot is placed on the back of the board
- Drop in – dropping into the wave during the process of standing
- Shoulder – the unbroken part of the wave
- Carve – turn
- Tube riding – riding inside the hollow part of the wave
- Snap – a sudden turn off a wave
There are many dangers associated with surfing such as drowning, collisions and encounters with sharks. In spite of the dangers, surfing is a very popular tourist attraction in many parts of the world known for their high waves. Surfboards have also evolved from the early wooden boards to become sleek and refined. Most of the modern boards are made from polyurethane foam so that they are very lightweight. The epoxy surfboard is the latest piece of equipment to come on the market for this sport as well as boards made from carbon fibers.