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  • Have you ever wondered how your surfboard actually works?

  • Most surfers simply accept the fact that

  • we paddle into a wave, stand up, and ride it

  • without ever really questioning what's making this happen

  • or what's going on beneath our feet.

  • Perhaps when we're shopping for a new surfboard,

  • we might think about the effects of variables

  • such as length, width, volume, bottom contours or tail shape

  • but for the most part, the majority of us are blissfully ignorant.

  • Even a lot of surfboard shapers, although they'd never admit it,

  • aren't that wise as to the physics at play

  • when the surfboards they've shaped are being ridden.

  • They know what works and that's what they continue making.

  • A big reason for this is the lack of proper research

  • that has been done on surfboards.

  • A lot of what we know about surfboards

  • has been worked out through trial and error,

  • and while a few people have hypothesized the science

  • behind why a board performs the way it does,

  • there is little hard evidence to support these claims.

  • We are going to address some of the core mechanics here and now,

  • and then build on them in future episodes that

  • will refer back to the points and principles covered here.

  • Let's start with speed.

  • it's what we're really after when we're riding a wave,

  • not just because it gives us a thrill,

  • but also because it's the raw material for producing good maneuvers.

  • Where does that speed come from and how do we generate more?

  • If you answered gravity then you're partly correct.

  • When you paddle into a wave and drop down the face of it,

  • it is gravity that's pulling you down and causing you to accelerate,

  • and even when you angle across the wave,

  • gravity is still helping to generate some of your speed.

  • However, if gravity was the sole factor in generating speed,

  • you should go fastest when going straight into the beach.

  • But that's not the case. Your board actually travels far faster

  • when traveling in trim across the face of the wave,

  • and this is all to do with how the flow of water

  • on the wave face interacts with your surfboard.

  • The very first thing that we need to get clear here is that

  • when we look at an unbroken wave,

  • it is mostly wave energy that's moving, not the water.

  • If you placed a rubber duck on the surface of the ocean

  • and watched a wave pass,

  • the rubber duck would just rise and fall as the wave passed underneath.

  • It wouldn't be picked up and carried by the wave.

  • A good way to think of it is to imagine a blue tarpaulin,

  • and then roll a bowling ball underneath it.

  • You would see the wave of the bowling ball

  • moving under the tarp, but the actual tarp itself remains in the same place

  • However, if we were to follow the bowling ball with a camera,

  • we would see the canvas rush past, and the same is true with an ocean wave.

  • This creates what we call an effective flow of water running up the wave face

  • from the perspective of the surfer.

  • When we take off on a wave and set our rail to start riding across the face,

  • our surfboard interrupts the apparent flow of water.

  • Two things then happen: our surfboard grips the face of the wave and

  • the surfboard generates lift and forward thrust.

  • Depending on exactly how the board interacts with the water flow,

  • the amount of lift, thrust, and grip can be varied to suit

  • the maneuvers we're trying to do on the wave.

  • In the next episode, we're going to talk about the physics involved in this process.

  • So until then, thanks for watching.

Have you ever wondered how your surfboard actually works?

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Surfing Explained: Ep1 Understanding Speed and Grip

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    joey joey posted on 2021/08/07
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