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Surfing Glossary

[How to understand most in your first surf class]

You always saw those amazing looking surfers in videos and on the beach and decided it's time for you to get started as well? Congratulations! This page will help you to get familiar with the slang of this new and exciting world.

This surfing glossary helps you as a beginner to understand common terminologies of this sport. Below you find a small selection of basic expressions. Trust me, there are way more ;-)

A-frame

a wave peak breaking left and right with perfect shape

Air or Aerial

a maneuver in which the board leaves the surface or the water/wave

Ankle slapper

a wave that's too small to ride

Alaia

Hawaiian surfboard made of wood, from the 19th century

Backdoor

When a surfer slides into a gnarly barrel from the backside, they’re threading the needle through that hollow wave

Bailing

Jumping off the board into the water to avoid collisions

Beach break

where the waves break over sandbars

Bomb

huge wave

Break

when the swell of the water breaks, turning into waves and white water

Carve

a maneuver that is a sharp turn on the face of the wave

Caught inside

getting "stuck" between the shoreline and the breaking waves

Charging

when a surfer is aggressively going for a wave, giving it all and putting on a show

Choppy

rough waves due to wind conditions, not building up and breaking yet

Closeout

a wave breaking suddenly without shape or shoulder

Clucked

being scared of waves

Cutback

a surf move done sharply in the shoulder or the wave or on its flats to get back on the surf line

Closeout

a wave breaking suddenly without shape or shoulder

Cutting off

catching a wave in front of a surfer, who wanted to take the same wave and was closer to it/ "stealing a wave"

Dawn patrol

early morning surf session

Deck

top of the surfboard

Duck dive

the technique of pushing the surfboard under a breaking wave

Epoxy

special plastic resin used to produce surfboards

Fin

object at the tail of a board to improve stability and control

Flats

horizontal part of a breaking wave, also known as the shoulder

Floater

a surfing maneuver where the rider goes over the top of a crumbling section and ends up in the flats

Foam

the white water that the wave produces after breaking

Frontside

when a surfer rides facing the wave

Funboard

mid-length surfboard, also known as Malibu or minimal

Glassjob

the fiberglass coat added to a surfboard during the shaping process

Greenroom

the inside of a barrel

Grubbing

falling off the surfboard while surfing

Gun

a big wave surfboard

Header

to fall off a surfboard from the front, head first

Helicopter

a surf move where the surfer spins their surfboard around from its nose

Impact zone

the area where waves break

Kickout

a surfing maneuver performed at the end of a wave ride to exit it

Leash

the cord that attaches a surfboard to the surfer

Line up

spot where surfers line up to catch waves, behind breaking zone

Lip

curling part of a wave

Lull

time between sets of waves with no waves breaking

Mushburger

a slow and fat wave

Outline

the shape of a surfboard from nose to tail

Overhead

when a wave is higher than an average surfer

Party wave

a wave that several people are surfing

Peak

highest point of a breaking wave that generates left and right surfable shoulders

Peeling

when a wave breaks perfectly

Pop up

the move surfers make to move from lying on the surfboard to standing up to surf

Quimby

a beginner surfer who is usually annoying

Quiver

a surfer’s surfboard collection

Rails

the sides of the board

Regular-footed

a surfer who surfs with their left foot forward

Riptide

a stretch of water that is particularly turbulent

Rocker

the curve under the surfboard

Set (of waves)

a series of waves that are approaching the lineup

Shaka

a sign surfers use: extending the thumb and the little finger

Shoulder

the part of the breaking wave that is unbroken

Spat out

the action that occurs when a surfer exits a barrel alongside air and foamy water

Stall

a surf move meant to slow down the surfboard

Stick

surfboard

Sufer's knots

swellings on the frontside of the leg, below the knee, as a result of kneeling on the surfboard waiting for a wave

Tail

the backside of the board

Take-off

catching a wave

Tombstoning

when the surfer is wiped out and sinking below the surface and their surfboard is bobbing up and down connected to them through a leash

Turtle roll

a technique used to get the surfboard to go through a breaking wave; it implies hanging on to the rails, turning over so that the surfer is fully submerged and the fins of the surfboard become visible.

Twin fin

a surfboard with two fins

Wall

a face of the wave that has no area to ride on

Washing machine

getting rolled around underwater by a breaking wave

Wipe out

falling off a wave while surfing

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