Surf ABC

A
Air
A surfing manoeuvre where the surfer becomes airborne. Advanced stuff and requires excellent timing and speed

Aerial
See air above

A-Frame
This is where a wave forms in a peak and breaks both ways. The name comes from the fact it is A shaped before it breaks

B
Backdoor
This is where the surfer takes off on a wave on the far side of the peak. He then proceeds to surf through the barrel.
Backdoor is also the name of the right-hander that breaks off the famous Banzai Pipeline in Hawaii

Backhand
To surf a wave in the direction that means your back is towards the wave. Usually considered more difficult than forehand but easier for some manoeuvres

Back off
This is where the wave goes from being steep and surfable to being flat and lacking power. It usually occurs when the wave breaks and then hits deeper water

Bail out
To jump or dive off your board when the going gets sketchy – this is usually on the paddle out when confronted with a wave too big to get under

Banks
These is how the sand forms on the sea bed and are what determine the shape of the wave above. Without good banks the surf is at best pretty!

Barrel
One of a variety of names for one of surfing’s ultimate goals. Can be used as a noun or a verb, both refer to the hollow part of the wave formed when the top travels faster than the bottom. The trick is to get into the barrel and is thus be barrelled!

Beach Break
The clues in the name! A wave that breaks at a beach (some don’t)

Bomb
A particularly large wave

Bombora
Australian term for a large wave that breaks a long way out to sea on an offshore reef or sandbank. AKA Bommie

Bonzer
A surfboard with no less than 5 fins! Invented by the Californian Cambell brothers in the 70s occasionally makes an appearance in modern designs

C
Carve
When a surfer performs a long, smooth, often powerful longer turn

Clean
You want clean waves! This doesn’t mean there is no poo in the water but that the waves are smooth and breaking well due to offshore winds. The opposite is messy when the wind blows onshore making them ragged

Close out
Waves are supposed to break across – either left or right. A closeout is where the whole wave breaks at once. A very short ride!

Concave
The concave surface of the bottom of a modern surfboard. It helps increase speed

Cooking
Very good surf conditions

Cranking
As above

Cutback
An S shaped manoeuvre where the surfer changes direction on the wave to head back to where the power is. This is followed by another change in direction back down the line.

D
Drilling
This is what big waves do to you after you fall off!

Drop knee
A style of bodyboarding where the surfer rides on one foot and one knee somewhat like a rifleman would stand.

Drop in
This is an unspeakable act in the surfing World! It is where a surfer is already on a wave (and thus has priority) and another surfer takes off on the same wave. Depending on who does it and where this can sometimes result in violence!

Dude
Not strictly speaking only a surfing term, but for years this was the only place it was used. Strangely enough the word originally meant a tramp /scarecrow

E
Elephant Gun
A surfboard designed for very big surf

F
Face
The front of the wave where it hasn’t broken – the blue/green part you can see

Fin
The protuberances on the bottom of most surfboards. Used to just be the one, now they usually come in 3s, sometimes 4s and occasionally 2s and 5s!Their purpose is to create lateral resistance or in other words stop you going sideways

Fish
A short wide surfboard designed for surfing small waves

Floater
Where the surfer rides over the top of the broken part of the wave as opposed to the face

Forehand
To surf a wave in the direction so that you are looking towards it. Generally considered slightly easier than backhand

G
Glassy
Conditions where there is no wind and the water surface becomes so smooth it resembles glass. This is a good thing!

Gnarly
Scary, bad or dangerous

Goofy foot
If you stand with your right foot forward you are a goofy footer!

Green Room
70s term for a barrel / tube

Gun
A surfboard for riding big waves. Long, thin and usually a pintail

H
Hang Five
Old school longboarding move where the surfer hangs the toes of one foot over the front of the board

Hang Ten
As above but… well you can probably work it out!

Heavy
Powerful waves are described as heavy as this is how it feels if they break on your head!

Hollow
Tubing / barrelling waves are hollow – duh!

I
Inside
Waves often get steeper and faster as they come in – this is the inside section

K
Keg
A more recent word for a barrel

Kook
Pronounced ‘kuke’ refers to someone who surfs badly and is generally a bit of an idiot

L
Layback
A manoeuvre where the surfer lies back into the wave. Popular in the 70’s

Leash
The cord that attaches surfers to their boards. In the old days surfers spent a lot of time swimming!

Legrope
Another name for a leash

Line up
This is where you sit when you’re waiting for waves. It’s usually just a bit further out than the waves break. It also refers to your position up/down the beach and what landmark you use to position yourself

Lip
What people often refer to as the crest. This is the part that plunges forward when the wave breaks

Log
An alternative, slightly derogative name for a longboard

Longboard
A long surfboard! Not to be confused with a gun, these are boards designed for small / medium waves with a rounded nose and are generally 8 ft long or more

Loose
A surfboard that turns easily – better for smaller waves

M
Macker
Derived from the american Mac truck this means a big wave

Mal
Usually refers to a longboard,Not to be confused with a Malibu surfboard, which is any stand up board

Messy
The opposite of clean of course! Referring to waves this is when the wind blows onshore and spoils the form of the wave giving it a ragged appearance. Not so good for surfing on

O
Offshore
The ideal wind direction. This blows into the face of the wave, smoothing it and holding it up so it breaks later and with more power

Off the lip
A surfing manoeuvre where the surfer turns the board up to the top of the wave and pivots on the breaking part (the lip). The steeper the angle up the wave the better

Off the top
As above but instead of pivoting the surfer draws a longer turn across the top of the wave

Onshore
This is the surfers least favourite wind direction. It makes the waves messy and less powerful

Outside
The opposite of inside! The section of the wave that breaks further out to sea

Over the falls
This is a type of wipeout where the surfer falls from the top to the bottom of the wave as it breaks. Can be fun, especially if done head first!

P
Pin tail
This describes the rounded, or even pointed, tail of some surfboards. It is generally preferred for riding bigger and hollower waves as it makes the board more stable and the turns more drawn out

Pop out
A surfboard made from plastic injected with foam. Generally a beginners board

Quad fin
A 4 fin surfboard. Fins are arranged in 2 lots of twos, one just behind the other set. Supposed to give all the benefits of a thruster and a twin fin

R
Rail
The side of the surfboard and the part you are supposed to turn on. Can either be soft (rounded) or hard (angular)

Re-entry
Like an off-the-lip except the surfers returns down the wave on top of the breaking section

Regular foot
The opposite of a goofy foot – i.e. one who stands left front forward. Slightly more common

Reverse V
A keel like part on the bottom of a surfboard towards the nose. The opposite of the concave

Rhino Chaser
A surfboard designed for very big waves. Usually around 8-10ft in length. See gun

Rip (current or tide)
A strong and sometimes dangerous current formed as water flows back out to sea. If you ever get caught in one of these paddle across it, not against it.

Reo
Short for re-entry

S
Set
Waves like to travel in groups. The exact science isn’t understood but they tend to arrive in anything from 2 to what seems like infinity if you are paddling out!

Sex Wax
The best known variety of surfboard wax. Made by Mr Zog

Shacked
Another word for getting tubed/barrelled

Shorebreak
Waves that break very close to the shoreline of the beach. Often powerful and hollow but proximity to the sand can result in injury and broken boards

Skeg
Another word for fin

Slab
A heavy reef break where the wave comes out of deep water onto a shallow reef. Always hollow, always powerful, often suicidal!

Snap
A fast, sharp turn

Spray
The water thrown up when a surfer does a big turn. This is the mark of a good, powerful surfer

Square tail
A surfboard with a tail that is squared off rather than being rounded.Perhaps the most common shape and ideal for pivotal turning in small to medium waves

Stringer
Wooden strip running down the centre of a surfboard. Provides strength and a centre line for the shaper. Some boards have double or even triple stringers

Swallow tail
This is the third main tail type. As the name suggest it is shaped like a swallows tail or like a W. The theory is it combines the features of a pin and square tail. Swallow tails come in and out of fashion

Switch foot
Someone who can surf both ways around, i.e. goofy and natural

T
Thruster
Name given to a board with 3 fins. Invented by Simon Anderson in the 80s it is still the most common design

Tight
A surfboard that is hard to turn. This is an advantage in bigger waves as it is less likely to wobble or do something unpredictable

Tow in
Relatively recent practice of using a jet-ski to tow a surfer into a big wave. These waves usually move too fast for a surfer to paddle into

Tube
Another name for a barrel or the hollow part of the wave

Twin fin
A board with 2 fins! Introduced in the late 70s this creates a very ‘loose’ board

W
Wax
Applied to the top of a surfboard to give it some grip

WAM chart
Or wave animation chart. This is an animated computer graphic showing the size of swell for the next few days.

Z
Zog’s (Mr)
Maker of the world famous Sexwax! ‘For when your stick gets too slick’