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Surfing Maneuvers

By: Evan Finneke

Published: October 9, 2006

Ever hang five, or ten for that matter? Maybe you've spent a weekend tube riding here or there, or, if you were less lucky, spent the whole day going over the falls because you couldn't keep your balance. In any case, surfboard maneuvering is one of the more difficult disciplines to pick up out of many sports, and beginners might be fair warned to expect some patience testing trials before carving their first real wave.

The most important element riders depend on for catching waves is out of their control, and must rely on hope that wind and weather conditions are favorable for a day of riding. After searching out the right place and time however, the rest of the work is completely up to the rider. The right size board, enough wax, and sometimes even a wet suit will help aid surfers in their attempt to conquer the waves. A control of motor skills is most desired for anyone with a serious commitment to becoming a better boarder.

Once surfers finally reach the water, and after they paddle out looking on the horizon for the right waves to roll in, surfers must be ready to speed up, get up, and maneuver the board, all in what should be a single, fluid motion. Of course, this is easier said than done, and most beginning riders will spend the majority of their time in the water trying to paddle and move into the riding position. The traditional motion to reach a standing position on the board reflects a push-up, only riders will push up with their arms while moving on to their knees, and eventually springing up onto their feet.
Once in this position, with feet slightly angled to increase balance, riders will use their hips to initiate any turning sequences on the board. By swinging their hips around, they can control which way the tail sticks out, and moreover, the direction the front of the board will take.

The basic rides involve a degree of carving (cutting back and forth on top of the waves) either inside or outside of a tube. A tube ride occurs when the surfer appears to be riding out from a tube that is closing over and behind him. This type of ride requires surfers not only be able to judge which way the wave is breaking, but the ability to crouch and duck on the board when the wave gets too close to your head. Other tricks such as walking to board and hanging your toes over the front edge are often practiced. Traditionally called hanging five or hanging ten (for the number of toes you attempt), this style of riding is most commonly attempted on longer boards and by veterans whose surfing developed during the long board age. However, just as the sport and board evolved, so did the degree of maneuvers possible. Now riders can 180 or even 360 out on the water, and some are even seen grabbing big air. For certainly one of the more difficult sports to get a footing in, the pay-off is said to be unbeatable, and for some, incomparable. For surfers, the ride is freedom, art, and a spiritual experience within the ocean and beach that is their temple.

Knowledge Hound. 1997. Knowledge Hound LLC. 5 October, 2006.

Surfing Waves. 2006. 5 October, 2006.