-
x

Meet New Friends!

Recommended friends are based on your interests. Make sure they are up to date.

Friends ff8c072dd79a91c1300f032d674241a8d64367100ffb1f25fa3f9bec4a05319f
Kidzworld Logo

The Science of Surfing

Surfing is way more than a modern fad - it was invented hundreds of years ago by the Pacific islanders of Polynesia. Kidzworld takes a look at the science behind the wettest sport the summer has to offer.

How Waves are Formed

When wind blows over the vast expanses of the open water, it creates waves. Three factors influence how big those waves are - the speed of the wind, distance the wind travels over the water (also known as "fetch") and the length of time it travels for. The biggest waves are created by storms far out at sea. They start out as huge, choppy waves and gradually decline into strong, smooth peaks (swell). The swell drags against the ocean floor as it gets nearer to the beach. That dragging causes friction, which causes the wave to grow taller, slow down and eventually break.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

The shape of the ocean floor and the direction of the wind are the two main factors that cause a wave to break (crash). The best surfing waves are usually caused by underwater features like sand banks, rocky points or reefs. To get the hollow tubes that surfers love, the ocean floor has to slope steeply. Waves tend to break more gently and farther out if the slope of the ocean floor is gradual. Surfers also prefer it when the wind blows from the beach out to the sea, which is called offshore because it helps to maintain clean waves, which are better to surf. If the wind blows from the ocean to the beach (onshore) or across the beach (cross-shore), it will cause the waves to be messy and choppy.

Riding the Wave

Balance is the key to surfing. The center of gravity is towards the tail of the surfboard. To ride a wave, the surfer has to straddle the center of gravity. If the surfer's weight is too far toward the nose of the board, the board will tip forward and the nose will sink. If the surfer's weight is too far towards the tail, the board will tip and the tail will sink. The surfer wants to catch the wave just as it is breaking, which is when it has maximum velocity (speed). In order to catch the wave, the surfers' momentum must be equal to the wave's momentum. When this happens, the surfer will feel the board being carried along by the wave. The rider stands and uses balance and the shifting of his body weight to control his direction.

Did U Know?

  • Some Australian universities offer degrees in "Surf Science and Technology".
  • Olympic medalist Duke Kahanamoku is often credited as having introduced surfing to the world.
  • Surfboards were originally made of wood but most are now made from polyurethane foam and then wrapped in fiberglass.

Related Stories:

 

3 Comments

Related Stories

Micro chasing micro
Read all about Chasing Mavericks the inspirational true story of real life surfing phenom Jay Mor...
Micro chasing micro
Our EXCLUSIVE interviews with the stars of the new surfing film “Chasing Mavericks”
Micro a m
Board Sports are the coolest of all the performance sports. Most of these board sports such as sn...
Micro a mic
Whoa California! Get down to Huntington Beach and sink into the ultimate Californian lifestyle… a...
F1152042751375

What's Your Fave Water Sport?

  • I'm a total surf lover!
  • I like SCUBA diving.
  • I'm in to skimboarding.
  • I love plain old swimming.

General In The Forums

Boysrock50
Boysrock50 posted in Debating:
"StarlaDance16" wrote: OK, well first of all if it was not debate no one hear would be reading it because it would not be in the debate section, also if it is not debate, how come all these people have debated on it. It is debate because there are different people debating over one argument. so yeah, do you still think its not debate ####### It's more the fact that you're asking us to choose between two awful things that vary in seriousness depending on context.
reply about 2 hours
StarlaDance16
StarlaDance16 posted in Debating:
OK, well first of all if it was not debate no one hear would be reading it because it would not be in the debate section, also if it is not debate, how come all these people have debated on it. It is debate because there are different people debating over one argument. so yeah, do you still think its not debate now>
reply about 4 hours
grr tree1
grr tree1 posted in New Users:
Hey, welcome to Kidzworld.
reply about 5 hours
inkdeath
inkdeath posted in Debating:
"Kirsteeeeen" wrote: "inkdeath" wrote: Hey Kirsten, any chance you can lock my account forever or prevent me from posting forever? It would mean the world to me. I'm being serious. 
reply about 6 hours
Achtung
Achtung posted in Random:
"Politics is when you say you are going to do one thing while intending to do another. Then you do neither what you said nor what you intended."
reply about 7 hours