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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.

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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

XxRuby_PhoenixxX
((Get ready for criticism. The grammar is horrible. The capitalization is horrible. I'm a fan of Aphmau, but this whole fan fiction, if you can even call it that, is horrible.))
reply about 2 hours
cubicfairy
kawaii chan p.o.v ​kawaii chan wondered what was wrong with zane, something happened in some kind of dream, she stood up, walking over to the bed and sitting next to zane, he was laying down again "what happened?" she said whilst stroking his hair, he uncovered his face, tears still slowly going down his cheeks "y- you, you killed me..." kawaii chan kept stroking his hair, frowning "kawaii chan would never try to kill zane kun...." zane looked at kawaii chan, and she wiped his tears "I'm sorry.. for scaring you" kawaii chan frowned "you have nothing to apologise for zane kun..." zane pulled down his mask and put his hand behind kawaii chans head and pushed her forwards a bit, kissing her, she kissed back instantly, starting to smile, they pulled away "I love you kawaii chan..." kawaii chan blushed, and so was zane "kawaii chan loves you too" she said, pulling  zanes mask back up zane p.o.v ( skip to a week after 1, the kiss and 2, getting out of hospital, brought to you by twilight sparkle dancing the whip nae nae and yelling "open Gangnam style" XD) zane was laying on the couch, texting kawaii chan happily, he was actually humming, Garroth came over afew times, seeing if he was alright, all happy and stuff (now to the texting!) z- hey kawaii chan, hows it going? k- great zane kun! hows your head been doing? ​z- pretty okay, Garroth keeps telling me not to leave the house for safety reasons ​k- hee, that's pretty funny ​z- well that's what I get... wanna come over? ​k- sure zane kun! kawaii chan will be there in 20 minutes! ​z- okay kawaii chan, take your time ​*zane leaves chat* *kawaii chan leaves chat* ​zane went to his room to get dressed, going in, he saw Garroth scurrying around... well there goes zanes happiness "Garroth! what are you doing in my room!" Garroth instantly stood up, probably only just noticing zanes presence "oh, baby brother, I was looking for my earphones, have you seen them?" "no! get out!" Garroth put his hands in the air, walking out, something sticking out of garroths pocket caught his eye " Garroth, what is in your pocket?!" Garroth sighed "you got me'' he pulled out a photo out of his pocket, it was a picture of kawaii chan and zane at a restaurant from Tuesday (he got out of hospital Monday, its Friday) zane snatched the photo "when did you start getting it on with kawaii chan?" zane grit his teeth " Garroth!," he lowered his voice "please, don't tell anyone, Aphmau and katelyn already know and I asked them not to tell, so please" Garroth nodded "okay" ​(lets just say he go dressed and there was a knock on the door)
reply about 3 hours
ThatRandomChick719
Section Four (How am I writing this so fast?) "... Ahh... A-ahhh..." Mayu had to stop and breathe. She had a killer stitch. She held her left side and wheezed. "This... This is why I don't run..." Once she regained her breath, Mayu examined her surroundings. Oddly enough, not many people were around. "Where could he have gone...?" She began walking again, and she only made it a few steps before she heard a voice calling out for her. "Suzume!" Surprised, and a bit startled, Mayu turned around to see a fellow classmate of hers. "Ah, Shinohara! What brings you here?" The bubbly girl beamed at Mayu. "Ah, I'm waiting for Naomi. We are supposed to meet in this exact spot, and then we are going shopping! What about you?" "Oh, well... I'm trying to find Shig. See, he got this phone call from Mochida, and apparently Kishinuma got in a really bad fight. I'm worried about both of them--" "Correction, Suzume. You're worried about Morishige." "That's not true! You know I care about both of them!" "Hehe, I know. I'm just messin' with ya. So... That's why you're all sweaty. Were you running?" "Yes! It's awful, Shinohara!" "Well, I luckily have a water bottle with me. You can take it." She smiled and handed the bottle over. "T-thank you!" "No problem! Now... LET'S GO FIND OUR FRIENDS!" "Wait, what...?" Mayu took a giant gulp of water before continuing. "Uh-huh! I'm gonna help you find them! YEAAAAAH!" "Are you sure? It sounds kind of dangerous..." "Ahem." Shinohara tried her best to imitate Mayu's voice. "'Anything for Shig-nii!' Isn't that right? Hmm? I respect that, and want to help! Plus, Kishinuma is involved. A DOUBLE WHAMMY." "...Once again, thank you." "Think nothing of it!" Then, all of a sudden, Shinohara brought her fingers to her mouth and whistled loudly. A taxi shortly came over and stopped. "Thanks, mister! Now... Direct the guy, Suzume!" 
reply about 3 hours
ThatRandomChick719
Section Three "Kishinuma! Unhand me this instant!" Morishige didn't raise his voice, but his tone was like a hiss. He wasn't messing around.  "Because I don't have time for this, either. But Mochida was too frightened to confront you. So he contacted me. And I'm delaying my plans for this. Therefore, both of our lives would be simpler if you release me." The blond-haired teen didn't let go of Morishige, but loosened his grip on him. "Oh, yeah?! Well, you don't even know what happened...!" "So... Take a deep breath and calmly explain the situation." Kishinuma did as he was told, and inhaled. Then exhaled. "Okay... So it was a normal day on the job. I didn't have much to do when it happened..." "What exactly DID happen?" "...Shinozaki stopped by to visit me. It was like... The first time ever. And I was... Well, that doesn't matter. We were just chewing the fat when suddenly... A gang of thugs showed up. They busted the windows and doors. Their leader was a real stick, and he took her. He had duct tape, and he silenced her screams with it. They had rope, too. Tied all of her up to the hood of their pretty little blue truck. And I was mad." "...So you went after them?" "HECK YEAH I DID! Those jerks weren't gonna get away with any bull crap on my watch!" "I see. What happened afterwards?" "What do you think happened, Morishige?" "You initiated combat. I know. I mean the details." "...I gave em all shiners, for one thing. Dang them! They had it comin'!" "Kishinuma... Calm down, alright?" "..." "We'll find her, so don't worry. Now, why don't you lead the way? Take us in the direction they went." "...Fine." With that, the two began running off.
reply about 4 hours
ThatRandomChick719
Section Two Mayu was still waiting around for Morishige to come back. They had plans for that afternoon, and that's why they hadn't left right away. They were supposed to rehearse together, and he thought it would be best if they did it in a setting like that of the scene. "Mayu, why don't we do it in the classroom after school? The scene takes place in a classroom, after all. Doing it this way will allow us to get into character a lot easier, don't you think?" "Yeah, that's a great idea!" "Excellent. We'll start once everyone departs. Good?" "Mhm... Good." Mayu's face became hot when she remembered how... light she felt. It was always strange... Whenever she talked to him, it was like she was lighter than air. Like she was floating. And yet... her heart was heavy enough to bring her back to the Earth when he left. That's how she felt now. "Ms. Yui... Do you think everything will be okay?" "Of course, Suzumoto! Morishige is fine on his own. Isn't he always?" "...Yeah... You're right." She began thinking to herself. "He doesn't need me..." "He never has." "He never will." "But... That's one of the things I like about him." "His independence." "He's a lone wolf. He could be trapped in a haunted setting and make it by on his own." "But I would be the first to die... Because I would need someone with me." "...Shig, in particular." Ms. Yui noticed Mayu and her sad expression.  "Oh, what's wrong? I thought that would be reassuring... I'm sorry." "Ahhhh, no, sensei! It's not your fault at all! I'm just... Um... Worried. That's all." The small girl abruptly stood and gathered her belongings. "I am gonna head out! See you tomorrow, Ms. Yui!" Without waiting for a response, Mayu ran out the door and through the hallway. She was sprinting and losing her breath.  But she couldn't stop. She had to keep going. "He needs me... I know it."
reply about 4 hours