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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

thebroandsistagteam
sweet n' sour
reply about 4 hours
_Tomgirl9
Dear Diary,  (2-20-17) So today was crazy after arguing with the fact that i should write this in a real diary but then remembering that my handwriting is terrible.     Okay look, just call me crazy but I saved the new girl in our class. I hate new girls in school. I was one which means I hate myself a couple years ago. That's..actually surprisingly accurate. Not that I'm a bully or anything whatsoever, but she always is automaticlly popular declared by the populist of popular in out class, Victoria. Or Tori for a brief yet still so disgusting I can smell her name from here period. Okay, I think we might be becoming friends after I saved her. You might be thinking, Audrey, just tell us how you saved her! Shut up, okay! I'm getting to that. Anyways, as Victoria is officially awesome, (inflicted by the awesomeness)  she hangs out with another girl which makes Alexei all mad and the whole thing blows up until I'm in the middle. (face palm) And I did some magic talk and problem solved. NOT! Now she says that I'm her friend and I do something crazy for her. She likes a boy in our class, Eddie. He likes Alexei, Alexei likes him. And you guess what i did. MAGIC! Anyways, now she owes me two favors. And that'll be getting me out of my delehma  right now by giving me stomach medicine. Or nose medicine. Either sounds heavenly.   
reply about 4 hours
mila27
mila27 posted in Debating:
In my opinion, cutting is not a cry for attention. The person's emotional pain creates some kind of need to feel physical pain, even if this person is not aware of that while doing it. However, on the last couple of years, cutting started to get popular, making some people think that if they cut themselves they will get more attention, which, also in my opinion, is an act of "desperation" and an actual need for attention or friendly advises .   :nerd  :)
reply about 4 hours
Laura-Melina
Laura-Melina posted in Random:
Simpsons
reply about 5 hours
Abbergrl
Abbergrl posted in Random:
IDLIIIIII@Cottoncandygirl77 XD Idli brains
reply about 7 hours